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United Sikhs announces appointment of Wanda Sanchez Day as Chief Legal Officer & National Legal Director

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New York, July 23, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)

United Sikhs announced today that New York civil rights lawyer, Wanda Sanchez Day, will serve as the organization’s Chief Legal Officer and will lead the organization’s International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy project (ICHRA) as National Legal Director.

Previously, from June 2016 to August 2018, Ms. Sanchez Day served as the organization’s Acting National Director and from to October 2019 to January 2020 as the organization’s private, outside, lead counsel.

“We are excited about having her come on board as part of the organization’s executive team,” states Gurvinder Singh, United Sikhs’ International Director of Humanitarian Aid. “We all wish her great success.”

As Acting National Legal Director from 2016 to 2020, Ms. Sanchez Day helped define and executed the organization’s legal priorities in the United States and Canada. She also oversaw the organization’s legislative advocacy and successfully led United Sikhs efforts seeking reforms in religious accommodation policies within the U.S. Department of Defense and the New York City Police Department.

These changes took effect in 2017 and now allow service members to wear beards and turbans. “The significance of these reforms is that in addition to accommodating the beliefs of Sikh service members, it allows these agencies to be more diverse and increase the hiring, retention and promotion of Sikhs, Muslims and other minorities who chose to serve,” states Jagdeep Singh, United Sikhs Executive Director.

In conjunction with many other Sikh volunteers and civil rights advocates, Ms. Sanchez Day also led the organization’s efforts seeking reforms to the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census Bureau now allows Sikhs and other ethnic minorities to self-identify as separate ethnic groups on the 2020 Census form.

“This was a significant victory for Sikhs in the U.S. Sikhs have been affected by anti-Muslim backlash since 9-11 but they have been counted only as a sub-segment of the Asian-Indian community by the U.S. Census and, as a result, did not receive the funding necessary to address the exponential increase in civil and human rights violations. That may now change, states Jasmit Singh, United Sikhs Advocacy Director.

Prior to joining United Sikhs as CLO, Ms. Day successfully ran and managed a law practice in Queens, NY. She graduated Fordham University School of Law, at Lincoln Center, in 2003 as a Louis Stein Ethics and Public Interest Scholar, earning a Juris Doctorate.

Upon graduation, she was awarded the Archibald Murray Public Service Award, cum laude, the Louis Stein Ethics and Public Interest Scholar Award and the Joseph Crowley International Law Advocacy Recognition. She was a member of the Fordham Corporate & Finance Law Journal, LALSA, BLSA, APLSA and Fordham Law Women.

Prior to law school, she attended undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Recinto de Rio Piedras and transferred to and graduated from the City University of New York (CUNY), Hunter College, earning a BA in Political Science and Philosophy.

She has a long history of working in the public interest and represented hundreds of clients and provided thousands of pro bono litigation hours in housing, immigration and employment cases that helped ensure or advocate for economic justice, immigration reform and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections for woman and workers generally.

She started as a civil rights and public interest advocate in 1994 as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Organizer with the Community Resource Center. From 1998 to 2004, she worked with the Legal Aid Society of New York (LAS), Harlem Neighborhood Office as a paralegal and represented families and individuals in administrative proceedings to challenge the denial of public benefits and public housing evictions.

She was promoted to the LAS, Civil Appeals and Law Reform Unit and monitored the City’s compliance with federal and state anti-poverty and anti-discrimination class action litigation decrees. During this time, Ms. Sanchez Day also worked briefly in the LAS Lower Manhattan Office, Employment Law Unit, assisting workers affected by the events of 9/11. In 2004, Ms. Sanchez Day became a housing staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Harlem and Queens Neighborhood Offices, Civil Practice.

She represented families and individuals in summary eviction proceedings and on appeal. In 2004, she was nominated Vice President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA), Civil Practice and was a member of ALAA Executive Board. She was also Co-chair of the LAS Joint ALAA/ Management Hiring and Affirmative Action Committee. From 2007 to 2009, Ms. Sanchez Day worked with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs where she enforced consumer protection laws.

From 2013 through 2016, she taught public speaking and debate to aspiring New York City politicians and lawyers with the Latino Leadership Institute at the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College. Since February 2019, Ms. Sanchez Day serves on the New York City Bar Association’s (NYCBA) Judiciary Committee as subcommittee chair and is responsible for making the initial determination about whether New York Civil Court and Supreme Court judges and other government officials seeking election or nomination to office have the temperament and qualifications to serve in those roles.

Since March 2018, she also serves on the NYCBA Puerto Rico Task Force, which monitors the impact of the U.S. Congressional PROMESA legislation on human and civil rights.

Ms. Sanchez Day has been quoted in various publications on civil rights issues. For example, in March 30, 2020 she was quoted in GlobalNewsWire: in Immediate Action Needed To Resettle Sikh and Hindu Victims of Religious Persecution in Afghanistan.

In 2016 & 2017, she attended the quarterly Interagency MASSAH Community Meetings with U.S. high ranking agency officials to address the rise of civil and human rights violations in the Sikh and Muslim communities and attended the USDOJ/EEOC meetings to address advancing diversity in law enforcement.

She also participated in the New York City Police Department Annual Interreligious Conference to address diversity and the role of religious leaders in community policing. In July 2017, she published the article “United Sikhs Urges Members of Congress to Pass Legislation That Will Allow Sikhs to Serve in the Armed Forces with Their Articles of Faith” in the Huffington Post.

She has also appeared on radio and in community events like the November 2016 Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia (WCAI)- Anti- Bullying Forum to address issues like bullying in elementary schools and to advocate for peer partnering and curriculum reform.

“Ms. Sanchez Day has an exemplary work history and a “change the world” work ethic and vision. We are very happy to have her on board,” states Hardayal Singh, the organization’s Director of Advocacy and United Sikhs Trustee.

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