Evanstonian Marcia Liss has received the Roger Baldwin Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

The award, presented by the state ACLU board, is named for the founder of the national ACLU and is only presented to those who demonstrate a lifetime commitment to civil liberties.

Liss retired last week as development director of the ACLU of Illinois after more than 20 years spent with the group over four decades.

“Marcia has played an indispensable role in building support for the ACLU,” said Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois, said in a news release.

Liss initially joined the group in 1972, as her first job out of college. After taking a few years off to raise her family, she returned to the ACLU in 1979, a time when the organization was struggling to maintain membership in light of its decision do defend the right of a neo-Nazi group to demonstrate in Skokie.

Liss played a key role in recapturing more than 1,000 members in Illinois and ultimately recruited thousands more.

Connell said Liss quadrupled individual donations to support the ACLU’s work and tripled income from the annual Bill of Rights celebration.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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