As a firm believer that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive, Claudine Fox has always been moved to action to protect, support, and strengthen her community, particularly people who have been harmed by oppressive and racist systems of power. For the past ten years, Claudine has worked toward justice and equity in the worlds of food justice and urban agriculture, federally qualified health centers, and health equity and policy, and she recently served as a City Councilperson for the City of Hartford.
This week, Claudine joined the ACLU of Connecticut as the organization’s first campaign manager. As campaign manager, Claudine will work on supporting and executing the ACLU-CT’s issue-based campaigns, and on the organization’s political activities during state and municipal election cycles.
She sat down recently with Meghan Holden, the ACLU of Connecticut’s communications director, to talk about her three biggest reasons for wanting to work for the ACLU, the work that she will be doing, and about one thing people might be surprised to learn about her.
MH: Claudine, welcome! We’re glad you’re here. First question: why did you want to work at the ACLU of Connecticut?
CF: A couple of reasons. One, [ACLU of Connecticut Public Policy and Advocacy Director] Melvin [Medina] and I got to do some cool work around police accountability and drones on the City of Hartford level when I was a city councilperson. And just, kind of witnessing the wealth of knowledge and the capacity to exist in those spaces and still stand up for what is right and just, and having things like state statute behind it, was really inspiring to me. This was before the idea of working for the ACLU even crossed my mind.
Also, I’ve been in equity work for at least five years at this point, and it has all been centered around public health and health equity. It started with food justice, and moved to farming, and moved to community health centers and health equity and policy. I was in the equity/policy realm for a couple of years, and this seemed like a really dope opportunity to combine the equity and public health work that I was doing along with the municipal policy work that I had been doing. How could I say no?
And the third reason is those blue shirts.
MH: The Smart Justice shirts.
CF: Yeah! It was like the perfect storm of advancing the work that I do and becoming part of something larger that really shows up for marginalized communities that are harmed by terrible practices.
MH: What will you be doing in your job as campaign manager?
CF: I will be doing a lot of different stuff. So, my primary goal right now will be supporting and pushing the Smart Justice campaign into phase two, around decarceration and how Connecticut can use some of the policies that are already on the books, that make us look a little bit more progressive than other states, to actually become progressive in action. So, taking the ideas of decarceration, police accountability, the idea that prisons shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all, and turning the theory and ideas into reality for folks. I get to work with the field organizers and the Smart Justice leaders, and I will also be working on other campaigns to support other policy goals of the ACLU of Connecticut.
MH: What is your favorite thing in your office (or, if you haven’t unpacked your office yet, what will it be)?
CF: I have an orchid. I’m terrible at taking care of orchids specifically. I grow food at home, I do farming stuff, but me and orchids just don’t get along for some reason. I was gifted an orchid for my birthday in May, and she’s still alive! So I’m so excited to bring her here, and nurture her, and take care of her, and let this be a good new beginning.
MH: What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
CF: I’m an introvert. I think people are really surprised to hear that, because of all of the extroverted positions that I’ve taken in work and life. But I am an introvert that really appreciates couch time, and blanket time, and my cat, and a glass of wine, and decompressing at home. I think that often surprises people.
MH: Anything else you wanted to add?
CF: I’m really excited to be here.