Photo of staff person Jess Zaccagnino


Policy Counsel


Public policy and advocacy

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Jess Zaccagnino joined the ACLU of Connecticut in 2021 and serves as the organization’s policy counsel. In her role, Jess promotes justice and liberty by planning and implementing policy initiatives, specifically through legislative policy research, analysis, drafting, and advocacy. Her primary responsibilities included developing and executing the ACLU-CT’s legislative agenda, engaging with administrative agencies and local government bodies, and working with fellow advocacy organizations to advance shared goals.

Jess received her B.A. in Human Rights with a concentration in Global and International Affairs from Bard College in 2017, where she dedicated much of her time to advancing student voting rights as an Andrew Goodman Foundation vote everywhere ambassador and as co-president of Election@Bard. She went on to receive her J.D. and LL.M. in Human Rights & Social Justice from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she served as a teaching assistant for a First Amendment law course and organized a conference on political polarization as the symposium editor of the Connecticut Law Review. She remains active in academic writing, and her interdisciplinary law and political theory work on authoritarianism and international criminal law may be found in the Connecticut Law Review and the Connecticut Journal of International Law. Jess’s academic interests include speech rights, Frankfurt school critical theory, and modern authoritarianism.

Prior to joining the ACLU-CT, Jess served in law and policy roles with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, the Connecticut Office of the Governor, the Office of the Secretary of the State, and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. Most recently, Jess was sessional legal counsel to the House Majority Leader in the Connecticut General Assembly where she worked significantly on the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis. In her spare time, Jess tends to her hoard of houseplants, collects vinyl records, and competes in bar trivia nights. She remains active in her dedication to student voting rights as a leader of the Andrew Goodman Foundation Alumni Association Board.