Today marks the end of an era here at Americans United: The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is officially retiring after 25 years of leadership. This is his last day.
If you’re a fan of this feature, you’re used to reading Barry Lynn’s words here. As most of you probably know by now, Barry is retiring this month. Americans United’s Board of Trustees is hard at work finding a new leader for our organization. Until that happens, I’ll be occupying this space.
Barry worked at Americans United for 25 years. His tenure is an impressive achievement, the pinnacle of a professional career dedicated to protecting the rights and liberties of all Americans.
Twenty-five years ago today, Sept. 22, 1992, the governing body of Americans United voted to hire a fellow named Barry W. Lynn to be the new executive director of Americans United.
A lawyer and United Church of Christ minister, Barry hit the ground running. One of the things he did best was irritate the Religious Right groups that hate church-state separation – a proud legacy he continues to this day. Leaders of these groups were flummoxed. How is it that a Christian minister had emerged as their most articulate opponent?
Tomorrow at 1 p.m., Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn will participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social news site Reddit. This is your chance to pick Barry’s brain about the state of religious freedom and church-state separation in America. Barry will be retiring at the end of the year after 25 years with Americans United – so this is a great opportunity to ask him about the battles he’s fought and those he sees on AU’s horizon.
I wrote this column on the Ides of March. If you remember your ancient history, you know that March 15 was the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome by conspirators wielding daggers.
I had an easier day than that, but it was still a bittersweet one for me: It’s the day I publicly announced that I will be retiring at the end of this year.
Editor’s Note: Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn announced last month that he plans to retire at the end of this year. Lynn, who has led AU since 1992, discussed his tenure recently with Church & State.
Q. During your tenure, Americans United went from a budget of $1.8 million to $7 million and grew from 10 employees to 37. How did you do that?
I remember my first day of work at Americans United very well. It was a day in November of 1987, and I was just 24 – yet here I was being given an opportunity to start a career doing something that meant a lot to me – defending the separation of church and state. I felt very lucky.
Americans United at that time was in a transition period. The executive director then, Robert L. Maddox, was working to strengthen the group. He had hired a full-time legal director with the aim of boosting AU’s legal program.
When Barry W. Lynn agreed to become the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in September of 1992, he saw a world of opportunities before him.
The organization had a storied past and lots of potential, so Lynn got right to work. At the time he took the helm, AU was located in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. Two years later, Lynn engineered the group’s move to the heart of the nation’s capital.
This week, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn announced that he will retire at the end of 2017.
AU Communications Director Rob Boston, who has been with AU throughout Barry’s remarkable 25 years serving AU, reflected on Barry’s many accomplishments.
Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn today announced that he will retire at the end of 2017.
Lynn, who will turn 69 later this year, has served as Americans United’s executive director for 25 years. He was appointed by the organization’s Board of Trustees on Sept. 22, 1992.
“The last 25 years have been amazing,” Lynn said. “I’ve been honored to lead Americans United during what has been a challenging period, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down and for Americans United to enter its next phase of growth under new leadership.”