Shenna Bellows served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine for the last eight years. In that leadership role, she developed a track record for building unusual coalitions with Republicans and Democrats alike to pass groundbreaking privacy and civil rights laws, making Maine a leader nationwide. She was a leader of Mainers United for Marriage, working for seven years to pass the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples in Maine, and she co-chaired the 2011 Protect Maine Votes campaign to restore same-day voter registration. Most recently, she organized a successful privacy campaign to require warrants for access to private cellphone communications, and she led the opposition to warrantless drone surveillance.
Prior to her work at the ACLU of Maine, Shenna was the national field organizer at the ACLU in Washington, DC, organizing nationwide civil liberties campaigns including opposition to the Patriot Act, where she built broad coalitions that included librarians and gun owners alike.
Shenna’s early career was devoted to economics. She worked as a research associate at Economists Incorporated from 1997 to 1999 before serving in the Peace Corps in Panama as a small-business development volunteer. In Panama, she launched a micro-lending program for artisans, started a Junior Achievement entrepreneurship program at a local high school, and was President of Women In Development/Gender and Development, dedicated to advancing economic and educational opportunity for women and girls. She continued her work in economic development as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Nashville, Tennessee. There she assisted a startup non-profit in developing an asset building program to promote educational and economic empowerment for young people in Nashville’s largest public housing project.
Shenna is passionate about the environment and science. She worked as a research assistant for several summers during high school and college at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. She worked for the campus recycling program at Middlebury College, and today she serves on the Manchester Conservation Commission.
Shenna is a leader in women’s rights and reproductive freedom. She is a graduate of Emerge Maine. She has been recognized for her work to advance women’s health and reproductive choice by awards from the University of Maine Women’s Studies Department, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, the American Association of University Women, the Frances Perkins Center and the Maine Democratic Party.
Shenna believes that coalitions can change the world. In addition to working in coalition to advance voting rights and marriage equality, she was a leader in the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, the Maine Choice Coalition, the Women’s Leadership Coalition, and the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.
In addition to living in Panama as a Peace Corps volunteer, Shenna studied abroad in Costa Rica during her junior year of college and in Brazil as an AFS exchange student during her sophomore year of high school.
Shenna grew up in Hancock, just outside of Ellsworth. She graduated from Ellsworth High School and magna cum laude from Middlebury College where she received highest honors for a thesis in economic and environmental sustainability. Her father, Dexter, runs a small carpentry business, Bellows Woodworks. Her mother, Janice, works as a nurse at the local hospital.
Shenna and her husband, Brandon Baldwin, own a home outside Augusta in the town of Manchester.