This month, the ACLU of Connecticut is proud to welcome Amber Vlangas as our donor relations officer. Amber is no stranger to putting her compassion and dedication to work for human rights, as she has been a supporter of our Smart Justice campaign for several years. In her role as donor relations officer, Amber will be applying her decades of fundraising experience to help people invest in the ACLU of Connecticut’s efforts to advance liberty, justice, and equity for all people in our state, especially those who have been most marginalized by the government. Amber is a strong believer in the power of human connection, restorative practices, and effective storytelling to create positive change. Her passion is motivated by a heart for service and the impact that the criminal legal system has had on her family and so many others. In her spare time, Amber co-hosts and produces a podcast, hosts a restorative peer support circle, creates art, and spends time with her family.
She recently sat down with ACLU of Connecticut communications director Meghan Holden to talk about her first experience with the ACLU, the power of connection, and one thing people might be surprised to learn about her.
MH: Why did you want to work at the ACLU of Connecticut?
AV: So really, it has to do with my faith traditions and upbringing. My beliefs have always centered around the concept of loving and valuing my neighbor. I’ve seen and experienced significant injustices that have rocked me to my core, particularly in the criminal legal system but not just there. Everything from when I lived abroad because I was a military brat, and when I was in the military, seeing people discriminated against, but it also gave me the opportunity to experience a lot of diversity.
My approach has always been, when I see something wrong, I want to be a part of making it right.
The first time that I ever interacted with the ACLU of Connecticut was when I went to the Capitol as part of a Smart Justice advocacy day, and we were asking legislators to pass the prosecutorial accountability bill and advance the collateral consequences bill. I brought my 18-year-old daughter at that time, and it was a truly empowering experience. I’d always been aware of the ACLU and what they did, but seeing people so empowered and the welcome that we received, at a time in our lives when we felt very disempowered, was one of the most amazing things that we’ve ever experienced. When I saw that the ACLU was hiring in a field that I’ve really honed my skills in over a long period of time, I was like, “maybe this is the right fit.” I see this as a way to do my part to advance liberty, equity, and justice for every single person. That, to me, is as important as breathing.
MH: What will you be doing in your role?
AV: My role is all about listening and connecting. I’m going to be working with individuals, focusing on Fairfield County, to engage their financial investment and partnership in the work. So for me, it’s about finding what someone deeply cares about, and finding the best way to connect them with a way to help.
MH: What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
AV: I am known in my family for being very adventurous when it comes to cuisine. I’ll try anything, whether it’s crickets, snails, whatever. I think that stems from living in a lot of different places, and my mom always encouraging me to try things. That old adage, “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” before you form your opinions – I will try anything in terms of cuisine, even things that people are like, for real?
MH: Anything else that you’d like to add?
AV: I’m super excited to be part of the team. I am not at all surprised by the kind welcome that I’ve received, but I sincerely can’t wait to delve into the work.