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Representing Children in Immigration Matters 2018: Effective Advocacy and Best Practices


Speaker(s): Maureen Ketler Schad, Michelle Mendez, Rebecca Press, Wendy Wylegala
Recorded on: Sep. 26, 2018
PLI Program #: 233359

Maureen Ketler Schad is Pro Bono Senior Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, where she litigates and supervises immigration and family law cases and manages the firm’s pro bono initiatives.  In 2014, in collaboration with a wide range of community partners and legal service organizations, including The Legal Aid Society, The Door, Catholic Charities, AILA, Safe Passage Project, Central American Legal Assistance, and KIND, she helped create ICARE, to coordinate a response to the “surge” dockets in NYC and ensure access to legal representation as well as school and health care enrollment information for as many immigrant children as possible.  She currently serves on the ABA's Commission on Immigration, the New York State Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court, and the NYC Bar Association's Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee.

Maureen was previously a Senior Staff Attorney at The Door’s Legal Services Center, where she represented youth for five years in a wide range of immigration and family court proceedings.  She graduated magna cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she worked with NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, Make The Road New York, and The Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Unit. From 2001-2004, Maureen worked at The Legal Aid Society as a public benefits and housing advocate.  Before that, she was a founding program coordinator of Project HEALTH/ Health Leads, creating legal and benefits resource centers for adolescents and families at public hospitals in Boston and New York.  She is a graduate of Harvard College.


Rebecca Press, together with UnLocal’s legal team, provides representation to New York’s immigrant communities, including those at imminent risk of deportation, those fleeing persecution, the long-time undocumented, and many others. UnLocal’s legal team provides fierce and cutting-edge representation to immigrant New York and works tirelessly to ensure that our communities have access to the legal representation they deserve and need.

Rebecca joined UnLocal with 10 years of experience representing immigrants of all ages in removal proceedings, with a particular focus in Asylum and Protection under the Convention Against Torture. She practices regularly before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In addition, Rebecca clerked at the New York Immigration Court through the Attorney General’s Department of Justice Honors Program. She is a 2002 graduate of Oberlin College and a 2009 graduate of the New York University School of Law. Rebecca has two joyful and rambunctious little boys.


Before serving as the Director of the Defending Vulnerable Populations program, Michelle Mendez oversaw CLINIC's role in the CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas, which focuses on providing legal assistance to detained asylum-seeking mothers and children. Prior to joining CLINIC, she served as senior managing attorney in the Immigration Legal Services Program at Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington, where she began as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by DLA Piper. Mendez has taught the Immigration Litigation Clinic at Catholic University Columbus School of Law, served as a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, and assists the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Mendez was awarded the 2015 American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award, recognized as one of the “Very Important Professionals Successful by 40” by Maryland’s Daily Record in 2014, chosen as one of 25 “Women to Watch in 2017” by The Baltimore Sun, awarded the 2018 Rising Star Award by the Maryland Francis King Carey Law School for her exemplary contributions of service and leadership, and selected as a 2018 National Law Journal Immigration Trailblazer. The National Institute for Trial Advocacy has selected Mendez for its faculty and appointed her program director for its immigration public programs and honored her as its 2019 Robert Oliphant Service Award recipient.

Mendez received her law degree from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond. She also holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University and a professional certificate in peace and conflict resolution through the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a native Spanish speaker, originally from Medellín, Colombia, and also speaks fluent French.


Wendy Wylegala is Deputy Director for Legal Technical Assistance at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a national non-profit organization that provides free legal services to unaccompanied immigrant children facing removal proceedings.  She designs legal training programs, writes practice guidance, and provides case-specific technical assistance to a legal staff of over 130 in KIND’s ten field offices.  Wendy joined KIND in November 2008 as a pro bono coordinator, working in the Newark, NJ and New York, NY field offices.  In that capacity, she trained and mentored pro bono attorneys, and conducted intake interviews and know-your-rights programs for detained and released unaccompanied children.  Later she served as supervising attorney in the New York field office for four years until assuming her current role in January 2016.  Before joining KIND, Wendy worked at a private law firm for eight years, and represented special immigrant juvenile clients on a pro bono basis.  Before attending law school, she was an Ombudsman at New York City’s Office of the Public Advocate.  She is admitted to practice in New York, and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, and her B.A. from Barnard College.  She is a member of the New York City Chapter of AILA, and of the Immigration and Nationality Committee of the New York City Bar Association.