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This article was originally published on December 01, 2010.

Tahirih is excited to announce the inauguration of its Public Policy Council, a group of dedicated pro bono advisors committed to multiplying Tahirih’s public policy capacity and providing critical financial support to sustain and strengthen these important efforts.

The Council brings together distinguished public policy professionals who lend their strategic insights and substantive expertise, help build Tahirih’s reputation and relationships, and commit financial support and leverage other resources to advance Tahirih’s groundbreaking advocacy initiatives. This support enables Tahirih to draft and pass legislation, build bipartisan coalitions, convene Congressional briefings, submit hearing testimony, prepare influential education and outreach materials, and engage senior Administration officials and key legislative leaders to ensure that our courageous clients receive the protection from violence that they need and deserve.

Council membership benefits include valuable networking opportunities with other public policy professionals and policymakers. Council Members are also given real-time updates about significant policy developments, as well as periodic luncheon briefings to enable them to gain inside and in-depth access to Tahirih’s advocacy campaigns.

On June 10, 2010, Council Co-Chair Sara Glenn of Shell Oil Company graciously hosted Tahirih’s inaugural Council briefing. This briefing focused on Tahirih’s efforts to promote U.S. protections for women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution, highlighting Congress’ introduction of two asylum reform bills that Tahirih helped develop. Attendees then engaged in creative brainstorming about how to make progress on gender-based asylum in both Congress and the Administration.

On September 15, 2010, Council Member Brenda Abdelall of Sidley Austin generously hosted the second briefing. This briefing outlined Tahirih’s efforts to urge greater U.S. leadership in the fight to end global violence against women and girls and coincided with a concerted coalition push for Congressional hearings on key legislation—the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA); the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act; and U.S. ratification of the UN treaty, CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

On November 10, 2010, McDermott, Will & Emery kindly hosted Tahirih’s third Public Policy Council briefing. This briefing described Tahirih’s instrumental role in drafting and passing the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), a federal law enacted in 2006 to ensure that foreign women receive potentially life-saving information before marrying men through so-called ‘mail-order bride’ agencies. McDermott has been providing skillful pro bono assistance to Tahirih as we press for IMBRA’s full implementation and enforcement, and as we draft amendments to strengthen IMBRA’s protections.

These Council briefings have already demonstrated how valuable and vital a resource the Public Policy Council is to Tahirih. Members have ongoing opportunities to contribute meaningfully to Tahirih’s advocacy on behalf of women and girls fleeing violence, and with Members’ support, Tahirih can better respond to emerging developments and engage in critical debates that affect our clients.

Tahirih is tremendously grateful to Shell Oil Company, Sidley Austin LLP, and McDermott, Will & Emery for hosting our 2010 series of Public Policy Council luncheon briefings. If your firm would like to host a luncheon briefing for Tahirih in 2011, please contact Tahirih at [email protected].