Executive director of the ACLU of Texas since January 2008, Terri Burke has led the organization through a strategic focus on LGBT equality, criminal law reform, youth rights, religious liberty, immigrant rights, and reproductive rights. Under her leadership, the ACLU of Texas expanded to include four offices across Texas, including one near the Mexico border. The organization’s legislative staff recently led significant legislative reform of the state’s prison system and worked successfully to stem the criminalization of school children. During the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, Burke led the affiliate’s work with coalition partners to attempt the blockage of a package of odious anti-abortion rights bills. In addition, she initiated and worked for the passage of a sweeping Public Information Act amendment that brings third-party vendors under the statute.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Texas, Burke had a 32-year career as a journalist, first as a reporter at Texas newspapers and later as a political and investigative reporter at the Hartford Courant. Her career included stints as a senior editor at The Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman and Albuquerque Tribune before becoming editor in chief of the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas. During that time, her journalistic staffs won numerous state awards, two National Headliners Awards, and two Pulitzer Prizes, including one for a series examining violence against women across the world.
She is a past board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and past president and board member of the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors association. She was an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Texas, a member of the visiting faculty at the American Press Institute and at the Florida-based Poynter Institute for Journalism. She also served on the board of Planned Parenthood of West Texas and was a board member and past president of the Nonprofit Management Center of Abilene.