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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, Senior Civil Attorney

Christina Jump has focused her career in civil law, at both the trial and appellate levels. Her practice has focused primarily on labor and employment law. Before joining 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 handled discrimination charges at the administrative agency level. In addition, she is a certified mediator.

Christy served as an Associate Hearing Officer for the City of Dallas for ten years. She is Past President of the Dallas Women’s Lawyers Association and was on the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, Co-Chair of the Women’s Advocacy Awards for Legal Aid of North Texas, and named a “Texas Super Lawyer” two years in a row.

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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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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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