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Faith-Based Legal Advocacy for the Common Good

  • University of Connecticut School of Law (map)
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We hosted a panel discussion at the University of Connecticut School of Law on “Faith-Based Legal Advocacy for the Common Good” featuring: Leila Mustafa, J.D. (Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America), Sr. Mary Ellen Burns, J.D., (Apostle Immigrant Services), and Sophia Schloen, J.D. (Lawndale Christian Legal Center).


5:30pm - Opening Remarks, Ismail Royer (Director of Islam and Religious Freedom at the Religious Freedom Institute) | Moderator Introduction, Maryam Bitar

5:40pm - “Protecting Religious Practices in the Workplace and Public Square” - Leila Mustafa, J.D. (Muslim Legal Fund of America)

5:50pm - “Faith-Based Immigration Advocacy” - Sr. Mary Ellen Burns, J.D. (Apostle Immigrant Services)

6:00pm - “Criminal Justice Reform as a Religious Imperative” - Sophia Schloen, J.D. (Lawndale Christian Legal Center)

6:10pm - Panel Discussion

6:30pm - Audience Q & A

7:00pm-8:00pm - Reception


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Leila Mustafa, J.D. earned her J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law. She received her B.A. from Southern Methodist University, where she studied Journalism and Psychology. In college, Ms. Mustafa was awarded the Philip H. Solomon Award in Foreign Languages for her Arabic proficiency. Ms. Mustafa is an active member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. During law school, she worked for Modjarrad Abusaad Said (MAS) Law Firm, and volunteered in the Immigration and Legal Services program at Catholic Charities of Dallas. Ms. Mustafa was a student attorney at SMU’s VanSickle Family Law Clinic, where she was able to provide pro bono assistance for divorce and child custody matters. She also served as a student attorney at SMU’s Actual Innocence Clinic, where she worked closely with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office to overturn wrongful convictions.

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Sr. Mary Ellen Burns, J.D. is the Executive Director of Apostle Immigrant Services. As a religious sister with the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and an immigration attorney, she has a great passion for helping immigrants achieve their goals. A native of Connecticut, she was a teacher for seven years before graduating from Yale Law School in 1989 and going on to work as a legal services attorney in New York City. In 2008, Apostle Immigrant Services was founded, and under her leadership, AIS has been uniting families, strengthening communities, and nurturing hope for more than 10 years.

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Sophia Schloen is a staff attorney at the Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) in Chicago, Illinois and a recipient of the University of Chicago Public Interest Law Fellowship. She received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout law school, she worked with the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago. As a student attorney she helped defend indigent young people in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Her work with the clinic ignited a passion for holistic juvenile defense, which she has pursued at LCLC. 


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Islamic Relief USA provides relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world.