Ira Glasser was born in Brooklyn in 1938 and has lived
most of his life in New
York City. He is married and the father of four adult children. Formally
trained in mathematics, he taught that subject during the early sixties at
Queens College (CUNY) and Sarah Lawrence College, and helped develop new
teaching methods in mathematics for elementary school children at the University
of Illinois. He was Associate Editor and, from 1964-67, Editor of Current
magazine, a reprint monthly of public affairs published in New York.
In 1967 he joined the New
York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) as Associate Director, and was appointed
NYCLU Executive Director in 1970, a post he held until 1978, when he was
selected as national Executive Director of the NYCLU’s parent group, the
American Civil Liberties Union. He served in that capacity for 23 years until
his retirement in mid-2001.
He has appeared on numerous
television and radio shows, spoken extensively in a wide range of public forums
and his commentary, analysis and advocacy has been published in a wide variety
of popular and professional journals. He is the co-author of Doing Good: The
Limits of Benevolence (1978) and the author of Visions of Liberty: The
Bill of Rights For All Americans (1991).
He is the recipient of a
number of awards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award (New York
Association of Black School Supervisors, 1971); the Silver Gavel Award (American
Bar Association, 1972); the Allard K. Lowenstein Award (Park River Independent
Democrats, 1981); the Malcolm, Martin, Mandela Award (Greater Baptist Trinity
Church, 1993); the Justice in Action Award (Asian-American Legal Defense and
Education Fund, 1999); and a variety of civil liberties awards, most recently
the Lifetime Achievement Award (Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union, 2003). A
new Racial Justice Fellows Program has been established by the American Civil
Liberties Union in his name.
He is a current and founding
member of the Board of Directors of the Asian-American Legal Defense and
Education Fund and currently also serves as President of the Board of Directors
of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Ira joined the CCLE's Board
of Advisors in 2003.