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Activist with experience as lawyer and minister
named joint UCC-NCC advocacy officer

Washington, March 13, 2009 -- In a joint appointment by the National Council of Churches and the United Church of Christ, an experienced attorney and minister has been named the NCC's Advocacy Officer with a focus on racial justice and human rights.

NaKeisha Sylver, who holds a Master of Divinity degree (cum laude) from Wesley Theological Seminary, and a Juris Doctor degree (honors) from Howard University Law School, begins her new position in the NCC's Washington Office on March 16.

Wesley M. "Pat" Pattillo, the NCC's Senior Program Director for Justice and Advocacy and Communication, and Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC's Washington Office, both expressed pleasure at the appointment.

"In our mission to witness to the gospel and its mandates, our historic goal always has been to honor God's call to love our neighbor and treat all people as sisters and brothers," Pattillo said. "We are delighted by the enthusiasm with which NaKeisha Sylver bears testimony to the same call -- and by the impressive credentials she brings to this job."

"The concern for racial justice and human rights is shared by the United Church of Christ as well as all the member communions of the NCC," Sorensen said. "It's appropriate that the UCC and NCC undertake this appointment together as a symbol of our ecumenical commitment to these ideals and to one another."

Sylver was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1999 and the District of Columbia bar in 2000. She has served several law firms in the Washington area. She is also an associate minister at Washington's historic Shiloh Baptist Church.

Sylver served as director of special projects for Project Vote's 2004 nationwide faith-based high school and former felon voting initiatives, and as senior attorney in 2008 for the Advancement Project's Power and Democracy Group, litigating key voting rights cases and serving as an advocate for the interests of low income and minority voters.

Before entering licensed ministry, Sylver served in lay youth ministry at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington, Md.

In keeping with the joint nature of her appointment, Sylver will be employed through the UCC’s human resources department but be assigned to the NCC’s Washington Office in the United Methodist building at 110 Maryland Avenue, reporting jointly to Pattillo and Sorensen.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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