NEW YORK (AP) — American Civil Liberties Union President Nadine Strossen announced Friday that she will step down in October after leading the group for nearly two decades.

Strossen, 57, was the organization's longest-serving president and the first woman to hold the job. She is only halfway through her latest three-year term, but Strossen said she thought the national advocacy group could benefit from fresh leadership.

"There's new energy, new connections to different communities," she said in a phone interview Friday.

Her last day will be Oct. 19. Strossen said she would remain involved with the ACLU, most likely as a fundraiser. The ACLU's governing board is to elect a successor in the fall.

Strossen became the ACLU's president in 1991.