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Charles Swift, Director & Counsel

Charles Swift is the Director of Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America. He was named by National Law Review as one of the top 100 legal minds in the nation. He is a retired Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Charles is most known for winning the U.S. Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfield for his client, Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

Following his military career, Charles was a visiting professor and head of the Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, before leaving to enter private practice in Seattle.

Charles has been a regular contributor on the topics of military law and terrorism for national news programs including MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, NPR, and Fox News. He has received numerous awards for his advocacy, including recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus at Seattle University School of Law, ACLU’s Roger Baldwin Medal for Distinguished Service, and was runner-up for Lawyer of the Year in 2005 as well as being named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in 2006 by the National Law Journal.

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Catherine McDonald, Managing Attorney

Catherine McDonald obtained her undergraduate degree in International Studies from the University of Washington. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 1994. Following graduation, Catherine worked in public defense in both Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. Over her 22 years of legal practice in high volume criminal defense, she has moved her practice from State criminal matters to a National Security practice in Federal Courts. In addition to handling a criminal caseload, she has also managed law practices from two to 12 attorneys. Along with her criminal practice, she manages the CLCMA office, reviews the initial case intakes at CLCMA, and supervises the Research Fellows and Legal Interns at our law center. As the managing attorney here at CLCMA, she is often the first point of legal contact for most clients seeking assistance from our law center. Her organizational ability allows for the smooth running of the law center and ensures that each individual’s needs are dealt with appropriately and effectively.

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Sehla Ashai, Immigration Attorney

Sehla Ashai is an immigration attorney with a background in human rights advocacy. She was a Beneficial-Hodson Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. She pursued her passion for human rights at University of Michigan Law School, and received a Henry Bates and Clara Belfield Travel Fellowship after graduation to conduct research on gender discrimination and citizenship law in Indian Administered Kashmir. She published an article entitled “The Jammu and Kashmir State Subjects Controversy” in the Drexel Law Review Symposium on South Asia and the Law, Spring 2010.

Since then, she has worked as a federal judicial law clerk, a labor organizer for taxi drivers in Chicago, a legal aid attorney for victims of violence, a consultant for relief projects in post-earthquake Haiti, and a specialist in nonprofit program development.

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Christina A. Jump, Civil Litigation Department Head

Christina Jump has focused her career on civil litigation for more than 20 years, at both the trial and appellate levels. Her practice involves civil constitutional challenges to the No Fly and terror watchlists, land use and zoning law discrimination, labor and employment law discrimination, and defending denaturalization lawsuits on behalf of members of the Muslim community. Before joining the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, Christina represented clients in litigation in bench and jury trials in both state and federal courts. She has experience with internal investigations and has handled hundreds of discrimination charges at the administrative agency level. In addition, she has been Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1999, and earned her qualifications as a certified mediator in Texas at the University of Houston Blakely Advocacy Institute in 2003.

Christy served as an Associate Hearing Officer for the City of Dallas for over ten years. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Texas Bar Foundation and Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Foundation. Christy is a Past President of the Dallas Women’s Lawyers Association and served on the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, the Board of Directors for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, and the Board of Trustees for the DAYL Foundation. She recently served for two years as Co-Chair of the Women’s Advocacy Awards for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, and has been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for multiple years. Christy is admitted to practice before many federal District and Circuit Courts across the United States, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Shari F. Crittendon, Senior Corporate Counsel

Attorney Shari Crittendon served as General Counsel for United Negro College Fund, which is the nation’s largest minority education assistance organization and provides operating funds for member historically black colleges and universities as well as scholarships for students at roughly 900 educational institutions. Shari is spearheading CLCMA’s nonprofit legal services division. Her experience managing governance, compliance and other legal issues for UNCF member institutions across the nation will prove invaluable to the American Muslim community.

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Marwa Elbially, Project Resource Attorney

Marwa Elbially attended Albany Law School, where she was President of the local chapter of the Muslim Law Students Association. While in law school she had the opportunity to work with Human Rights Associations on issues affecting prisoners, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office. She also studied at the René Cassin International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, during the summer of 2009.

After graduation, she continued her activism on issues related to civil liberties for Muslims and underrepresented groups. As a volunteer with the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), she assisted in the development of an extensive database of pre-emptively prosecuted defendants and served as NCPCF Interim Executive Director for a period of time in 2014.

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Susan Karingattil, Nonprofit Staff Attorney

Ms. Karingattil has six years of legal experience serving as a senior tax associate for two of the country’s largest accounting firms, KPMG and Ernst & Young respectively. Susan has a strong transactional background, representing organizations regarding federal and state tax law and counseling clients on internal process improvements and regulatory compliance matters. She has volunteered with various immigration services and human rights organizations assisting with refugee and family-based immigration, applications for employment authorization, client intake, and pre-trial discovery.

Susan holds a B.A. in Economics and Government from the University of Texas at Austin, in 2007 and is a 2011 graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law.

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Kathleen Fones, Nonprofit Staff Attorney

Kathleen Fones has 10 years’ experience as an associate with a major law firm focusing primarily on securities and banking matters. She represented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in multiple actions relating to the closure and sale of assets of major banks. Kathleen also represented banking, accounting, and other corporate clients in governmental investigations and in litigation in state and federal courts, including class actions. She has advised nonprofit organizations on compliance with state and federal laws. Kathleen’s extensive knowledge and experience in banking and corporate regulations make her uniquely qualified to provide proactive, OFAC-related risk management advice and counsel to Muslim charitable relief organizations.

Kathleen is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied government and history and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She then went on to Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and served as Articles Editor on the Human Rights Law Review.

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Leo Yu, Research Fellow

Leo Yu obtained his J.D. and master degree in law (LL.M) majoring at International Comparative Law from Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of law. He also has a law degree from China (LL.B).

After earning his LL.M, Leo worked for Berry Appleman & Leiden, one of the largest immigration firms in the world. He served as an intern for Honorable Sally Montgomery at Dallas County Court in the summer of 2014, and he then served as an extern at U.S. District Court for Northern District in Texas in spring semester of 2015, and he also worked for City Attorney’s Office of McAllen, Texas in the summer of 2015.

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Kristine Cruz, Research Fellow

Kristine Cruz earned her J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law, graduating cum laude and on the Pro Bono Honor Roll. She graduated cum laude from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University with her B.A. in International Affairs with a double concentration in Middle Eastern Studies and Conflict and Security.

After graduating from George Washington, she accepted a Fellowship with the Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking organization based in Washington D.C. She has since worked at Mosaic Family Services, a Dallas-based non-profit that provides legal services to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence, the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, and the District Court for the Northern District of Texas. She also served as President of the Asian Pacific-Islander American Law Student Association (APALSA), proud member of the Barristers, and as a Student Attorney for the Actual Innocence Clinic.

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Zainab Khan, Research Fellow

Zainab Khan graduated cum laude from the SMU Dedman School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree in Global Business from the University of Texas at Dallas, graduating magna cum laude. She also attended the Dream Program at Bayyinah Institute, a nine-month Arabic immersion program located in Irving, Texas.

During law school, Khan was an Associate Managing Editor for the International Law Review Association, and participated in the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition. Khan has worked at the Summer Institute for Human Trafficking at Children @ Risk, an advocacy group located in Houston, Texas. She has also externed for Chief Brenda T. Rhoades in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Khan is a recipient of the 2015 Texas Young Lawyers Association Diversity Scholarship and the 2016 North American South Asian Law Students Association Scholarship.

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Samuel Cole, Research Fellow

Sam Cole graduated magna cum laude from SMU Dedman School of Law in May 2016. He received his BA from Baylor University where he studied Philosophy and Classics.

During law school, he volunteered with the Innocence Project of Texas and has worked as a brief writer for the law firm Cole, Easley, Sciba & Williams. He has also worked as a volunteer intern with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. During the spring semester of 2016, he served as a judicial extern at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. He was also an Executive Editor for the SMU Science and Technology Law Review, which published two of his articles. He was also inducted into the Order of the Coif honor society.

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Leila Mustafa, Research Fellow, Civil Litigation

Leila Mustafa 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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Troy (T.J.) Hales, Litigation Fellow

Troy (T.J.) Hales graduated cum laude from the SMU Dedman School of Law in May 2016 and served thereafter as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Christine A. Nowak in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. During law school, he served as the Managing Editor of the SMU Law Review and worked as a student attorney in the Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women. He also interned and externed for the Honorable Amos L. Mazzant in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He received his B.B.A. in Economics as a Business Fellow from the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business in May 2013. He graduated from Baylor as an Honors Scholar with Distinction and as a Carr P. Collins Scholar, for achievement in academics and community outreach.

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