Feb 21, 2018

The Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State today announced that Rachel K. Laser, an attorney with extensive experience in nonprofit advocacy, has been named the organization’s new executive director.

During her public policy career in Washington, Laser has worked for Planned Parenthood, the National Women’s Law Center, Third Way and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“This is an exciting and critical time to assume the leadership of Americans United,” Laser said. “The separation of religion and government is under sustained attack. Yet I’m confident that we can protect all Americans’ freedom of conscience if we educate the country about the principles behind church-state separation and continue to appeal to and bring together the diversity of populations we have the potential to reach.”

The Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, president of AU’s Board of Trustees, praised the appointment.

“During my conversations with her, it quickly became apparent that Rachel is the dynamic and visionary leader that Americans United needs right now,” said Jones. “She’s committed to this cause, she’s smart, she knows how to work with diverse audiences and form partnerships with like-minded groups and, most importantly, she’s a fighter. I’m especially impressed with her collaborative, team-spirit style of leadership, and I believe her guidance will take Americans United into an exciting, successful future.”

Laser earned an undergraduate degree in history and literature from Harvard University in 1991 and a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1995. A native of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, she has resided in Washington, D.C., since 1995. She and her husband have three children.

Laser, the first woman and the first Jewish activist to head the 71-year-old organization, succeeds the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, who led Americans United from 1992 until his retirement in November. To learn more about her, visit this special section of AU’s website.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.