Salmah Rizvi


Executive Director



Salmah Y. Rizvi is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi. She is an appellate impact litigator, community organizer, and crisis manger. She works to build lasting peace that safeguards civil rights, by seeking truth, justice, and healing.

Rizvi's civil rights litigation, research, and advocacy have focused on increased monitorship of prisons, enhanced living conditions for incarcerated people, integrative mechanisms for reentry courts, abolishing mandatory minimums, religious freedom, protection of free speech rights of LGBTQIA+ students, activists' right to boycott, divest, and freely assembly, voting rights, reproductive care expansion, and racial justice in appellate spaces. She has worked on civil rights issues intersecting human rights, native Hawaiian rights, crim-immigration, and asylum. Rizvi has also served as pro bono counsel to the ACLU of Maryland and intern to NYCLU.

As Founding President of the 501c3/501c6 American Muslim Bar Association, Rizvi designed six national committees on the Judiciary, Advocacy, Policy, Education, Mentorship, and Legal Resources. She also sat on the Board of Directors of Witness to Mass Incarceration. Rizvi was Washington D.C. Associate at the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, which named her a Chambers Rising Leader. Rizvi clerked for the Honorable Judge Theodore A. McKee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable Judge J. Michael Seabright of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaiʻi. Rizvi has argued at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She also worked for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Southern District of New York. And she was an NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice Fellow in Ramallah, Palestine. Rizvi is a recipient of the Soros Fellowship, Vanderbilt Medal, Truman Scholarship, and Institute of Nonprofit Practice Changemaker Award. 

Prior to law school, Rizvi impacted high-value missions for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. She was appointed the first Chairwoman to the Defense Department's Islamic Cultural Employee Resource Group, through which she worked to protect the civil rights of Muslims within highly-militarized institutions and led ninety-two analysts in demanding accountable intelligence reporting, free from Islamophobia. Members of Congress and the President's office honored Rizvi for this work. She also served as a Human Rights Commissioner in Maryland.

Rizvi holds a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, an M.S. from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University. In her free time, she organizes for the Zawiyah Foundation of Hawaiʻi. She speaks multiple languages and has travelled to over seventy countries. Born in Indonesia, Rizvi is the daughter of immigrants—a Pakistani father and Guyanese mother. Raised as a Shia Muslim, Rizvi's fight for justice is embedded in her creed. Rizvi resides in Honolulu, with her children who are learning ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and her husband, Dr. Saquib Ali Usman, who teaches Anthropology at the University of Hawaiʻi.