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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 is a senior staff attorney at Central American Legal Assistance. She represents undocumented immigrants of all ages in removal proceedings, with a particular focus in Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  She practices regularly before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Rebecca has worked at The Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Representation Project and The Door’s Legal Services Center.  In addition, Rebecca clerked at the New York Immigration Court through the Attorney General’s Department of Justice Honors Program, where she was responsible for writing judicial decisions and legal memoranda of law. She graduated from Oberlin College and New York University School of Law.  Rebecca has two joyful and rambunctious little boys.

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. 

Michelle N. Mendez is a managing attorney for Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) in its Training and Legal Support section, where manages the Defending Vulnerable Populations Project. Before CLINIC, Ms. Mendez served as senior managing attorney in the Immigration Legal Services Program at Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., where she began her career as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by DLA Piper. From 2013 to 2016, she co-taught the Immigration Litigation Clinic at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and served as a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and as an Adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law this past spring.

Ms. Mendez was selected to receive the 2015 American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award, in part because of her leadership on Maryland’s special immigrant juvenile status law; the Rotary International Paul Harris Award in 2014, for her commitment to helping others through volunteerism and service; as one of twenty-five “Women to Watch in 2017” by The Baltimore Sun, for providing pro bono representation to immigrants and asylum seekers, and training lawyers nationwide on contesting deportations and representing the immigrant client; and as one of the “Very Important Professionals Successful by 40” by Maryland’s Daily Record in 2014, for her contributions to her community and the law and “commitment to inspiring change.” The Maryland Francis King Carey Law School recently selected her for the 2018 Rising Star Award for exemplary contributions of service and leadership.

Ms. Mendez received her J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, her B.A. from the University of Richmond, 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. Originally from Medellín, Colombia, she is a native Spanish speaker, speaks French fluently, and has taken Arabic language courses.