Howard Simon is Interim Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida since August 2023, after serving as Executive Director for 21 years, from 1997 until 2018. Simon also served as Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan from 1974 until 1997.
Simon is the longest serving state director of ACLU affiliates in the organization’s over 100 year history, with over 44 years of experience in civil liberties work.
Howard graduated from the City College of New York and earned a Ph.D. in legal and political philosophy from the University of Minnesota. He taught at the University of Minnesota and DePauw University as a member of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.
Howard led the Florida ACLU through numerous controversies including those involving school vouchers, abortion rights, the Terri Schiavo case, and a host of issues involving freedom of speech.
He has been an advocate for voting rights since working as a college student as an assistant to the Rev. Andrew Young during the Selma to Montgomery march for passage of the Voting Rights Act. With the ACLU, he:
- helped draft the constitutional amendment to restore the right to vote that ended Florida’s Civil War-era lifetime voting ban;
- worked successfully to replace paperless electronic voting with the paper-based voting system now in use throughout the state;
- challenged restrictions on voter registration and efforts to restrict early and Sunday voting, and
- helped secure passage of the Fair Districts Amendments curbing partisan gerrymandering.
After his retirement from the ACLU, Howard founded the Clean Okeechobee Waters Foundation to work with medical researchers who linked toxins in blue-green algae to neuro-degenerative diseases. His work involves public education about the threat to public health and for policy changes to mitigate the pollution of Florida’s fresh waters that create harmful algal blooms.
Howard is a Board member of Calusa Waterkeeper and the Florida Policy Institute. He is a contributing columnist for The Palm Beach Post, The Fort Myers News-Press, Naples Daily News, Tampa Bay Times, Sarasota Herald Tribune and other Florida newspapers.
Howard and his wife Beth Wilson reside in Gainesville.