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Shaena Fazal, Esq., National Policy Director

Shaena Fazal is the National Policy Director for Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP).  Shaena leads YAP's national advocacy and policy efforts, focusing on the deinstitutionalization of youth, redirecting government resources from institutions to building community capacity and providing the most marginalized families with the support they need. 

Since obtaining her law degree in 2000, Shaena has advocated for the most disadvantaged among us and to changing public policy. Immediately after law school she worked for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on urban housing and immigrant services issues. For the next 5 years she was a public defender at the Office of the State Appellate Defender, First District, (Cook County) where she represented over 80 clients convicted of felonies on appeal of their convictions. 
 
In late 2005, Shaena was awarded a two-year Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship to continue her prisoner rights' work, advocating for humane conditions for long-term prisoners in Illinois. With the fellowship, she founded and directed the Long-Term Prisoner Policy Project at the John Howard Association of Illinois. In this position, she worked to enhance public commitment to rehabilitation, and focused on changing policies to end the warehousing of long-term prisoners. She devoted much of her time to abolishing life without parole sentences for juveniles and to educating and informing legislators in Springfield about sentencing and corrections policies for juveniles and adults. She also founded the "C# Representation Project" where she recruited and trained pro bono attorneys to represent the less than 300 remaining parole eligible prisoners at parole hearings. 

In January 2009, Illinois' Governor Quinn appointed her to the Adult Advisory Board of the Illinois Department of Corrections which provides guidance to the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. 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.