Molly Curren Rowles, photographed in November 2022, when she was the executive director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has hired a new executive director.

Molly Curren Rowles, who previously served as the executive director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, will lead the ACLU starting May 13.

Robert Kelley, president of the ACLU of Maine board, said Curren Rowles brings “unique experience in nonprofit management from various areas of public interest, including religious liberty, housing access, refugee resettlement, and domestic violence advocacy.”

“I am thrilled that after an exhaustive search, we found the best candidate right here in Maine,” he said in a statement. “Molly’s diverse experience in advocacy and law will continue and strengthen the ACLU’s tradition of leading the fight to extend the promises of our Constitution to all people in Maine.”

Curren Rowles will replace Arthur Padilla, who took over the post in November 2022.

During her time at the Jewish Community Alliance, Curren Rowles developed new programs, grew the agency’s capacity and collaborated with HIAS to build a refugee resettlement program that has resettled more than 300 people in Maine since 2022, according to the ACLU.


Earlier in her career, Curren Rowles worked for seven years at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, where she focused on complex family law cases and domestic violence advocacy. She was then a York County attorney before returning to Pine Tree in 2016 to build and manage a new statewide intake program.

Curren Rowles said she developed a deep connection to the natural world and “a profound appreciation” of the Bill of Rights while growing up off the grid in rural New Hampshire.

“The Constitution provides a framework that empowers each American to be free to pursue meaning, purpose, and happiness. Though its promises are guaranteed to all, we still face the deliberate denial of rights and opportunities to those with less power, authority, or access in our society,” she said in a statement. “I am honored to have the opportunity to join the ACLU of Maine’s team to champion the rights of all people in Maine – through strengthening our democracy and creating a fair legal system, to preserving bodily autonomy and holding government accountable.”

The organization launched the search for a new leader after Padilla resigned last April. The search committee included members of the board and staff who worked with an executive search firm that assists mission-driven organizations, according to the ACLU.

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