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Brenda Griffin

(pronouns: she/her/hers)

I was born and raised on the East Coast. My family moved to the North to escape the Jim Crow South. I was raised by my grandmother. Although she did not have a high school education, she made sure that I had one.  


After earning degrees from Johnson & Wales College in Rhode Island and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, I returned home and worked at several law firms. There, I learned about the ugliness of police brutality firsthand. I also learned how to adapt to being the only person of color in an organization. After many years in corporate America,I decided to do something more meaningful. 


In 2003, I took a temporary assignment with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project (now known as the Criminal Law Reform Project), whose mission is to end harsh policies and racial inequities in the criminal justice system. I was hooked. I began witnessing the atrocities that African Americans were facing at the hands of rogue law enforcement and in the criminal justice system. The temporary assignment turned into a full-time position with the ACLU. 


That job brought me to Santa Cruz, where I co-founded the Social Justice Alliance of Santa Cruz County, the Racial Justice Equity Trainers Network of Santa Cruz County, and the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity. 


Since 2016, I have been the president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). After the police killing of Sean Arlt, a young father struggling with mental illness, I joined the Santa Cruz Police Department Chief’s Advisory Committee to provide accountability and critical feedback.


I currently work in the medical industry and serve on the board of directors of Community Bridges as well as the Cabrillo College President’s Advisory Committee.

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