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Outgoing Director of Public Policy Jeanne Smoot Steps Down After A Decade of Pioneering Leadership

Archi PyatiTahirih Justice Center is very pleased to welcome Archi Pyati to our team today as the new Director of Public Policy.

Ms. Pyati is a dedicated advocate for immigrant women and girls with more than a decade of experience in immigration law practice, women’s rights, and public policy advocacy. As Tahirih’s Director of Public Policy, she will spearhead national advocacy initiatives, forging and mobilizing diverse, bipartisan coalitions to press for laws, regulations, and policies that better protect immigrant women and girls from violence.

“Archi is a fierce champion of women and girls with broad skills and experience, and we are thrilled that she will be leading our team through a period of exciting growth and tremendous opportunities to bring about high-impact and lasting changes in laws and policies,” said Tahirih Executive Director Layli Miller-Muro.

Prior to joining Tahirih, Ms. Pyati served as the Deputy Director of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families in New York, where she served hundreds of women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, directed an attorney volunteer program, built and maintained relationships with donors, media and partner organizations, and worked with survivors to stop female genital mutilation in the United States. She published a report on the incidence of FGM in the United States and is writing a book on the topic for the American Bar Association. Ms. Pyati is currently a participant in the NoVo Foundation’s “Move to End Violence” initiative, a two-year highly competitive and selective leadership training experience for leaders in women’s rights.

As an Equal Justice Works fellow and a senior associate at Human Rights First, Ms. Pyati counseled detained immigrants, advocated for reforms in detention practices, and lobbied for both domestic and foreign policy changes to protect immigrants’ and women’s rights. Ms. Pyati is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School, where she received two competitive human rights fellowships for work overseas and was named Outstanding Woman Law Student of the Year by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

Tahirih’s outgoing Director of Public Policy, Jeanne Smoot, will remain with Tahirih but will transition into a new role as Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy.

“Under Jeanne’s leadership, Tahirih has established a tremendous national reputation for policy advocacy, and I am humbled by the opportunity to try to fill her shoes,” said Ms. Pyati. “Having counseled hundreds of women and girls fleeing forced marriage, domestic abuse, FGM, and other forms of gender-based violence, I know the deep and harmful impact that this violence has on our communities. I am honored to join the extraordinary staff and supporters of Tahirih in their fight to ensure that each of us can enjoy safety and dignity regardless of our gender or immigration status.”

Ms. Smoot’s new, part-time position will enable Tahirih to continue to benefit from her experience, while enabling her to spend more time with her family.

“Tahirih would not be where it is today without Jeanne’s decade of pioneering leadership. We are so grateful that she will continue to play an important role in Tahirih’s advocacy and national leadership in the fight for immigrant women’s rights,” Miller-Muro said.

Ms. Smoot, who has led Tahirih’s public policy team since 2003, has shepherded major public policy victories to reduce vulnerabilities of immigrant women and girls and to empower them as survivors. Among other achievements, she helped draft and mobilize support for the enactment of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) to prevent the abuse and exploitation of so-called “mail-order brides,” helped galvanize recognition of forced marriage as a domestic human rights problem in the United States with a groundbreaking national survey and the launch of a new Tahirih initiative, assisted in drafting legislation to fix aspects of the broken asylum system that harm women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution and co-wrote a report to bring attention to the steep path that women face to receive asylum protection in the United States. She most recently helped lead successful efforts to defend and expand protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and in the passage of a Senate bill to reform immigration laws.

Under her stewardship, Tahirih has evolved into a national public policy leader.

“It’s been my honor to elevate the voices and stories of courageous survivors into the policy debates that impact their lives and futures. To have a job that’s also your mission and passion is a rare gift, one I’ve enjoyed for 10 years and will treasure always. But I look forward to having more time to enjoy and treasure my children, and to welcoming new leadership in Archi that will keep up the fight for women and girls with all the intellect, intensity and integrity that this important work demands,” Ms. Smoot said.