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Shaena Fazal is YAP’s National Director for Public Policy and Communications. She joined YAP as an employee in 2010 and served as a member of YAP’s Board of Directors from 2008-2010. In her role at YAP, Shaena leads the Policy and Advocacy Center and oversees YAP’s external communications with members of the press.
Prior to joining YAP, Shaena was a congressional staffer to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky where she oversaw immigration and housing issues. She was a public defender in Cook County, IL (Chicago) for several years serving in the Appellate Defender’s office where she represented over 80 clients convicted of capital and non-capital offenses in post-conviction and direct appeal proceedings, including oral arguments. In 2005, she was awarded a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship, with which she co-founded the Long-Term Prisoner Policy Project at the John Howard Association of Illinois. There she recruited and trained pro bono attorneys to represent aging prisoners at their parole hearings and worked on sentencing reform in Illinois. She is a founding member of the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children and former Board Member, General Counsel and staff to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Shaena worked at the Chicago YAP program before relocating to the DC area where she assumed national responsibilities related to YAP’s system change mission, public policy efforts and external communications. She has published the report “Safely Home,” and authored the report “Beyond Bars,” published by the National Collaboration for Youth. Shaena’s blog posts or op-eds have also appeared in various publications including the Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Social Change and JJIE.