March 9, 2011

07CN: Leslie Tapped as Adventist Point Person in Washington, D.C.

Leslie Tapped as Adventist
Point Person in Washington, D.C.
Veteran attorney, business leader, seeks “seat at table” for church in public sphere
BY BETTINA KRAUSE, General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department
Veteran attorney and business leader Dwayne Leslie will serve as the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s voice in Washington, D.C., following a February 8 vote by the world church’s Executive Committee.
As an associate director for the world church’s department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and director of Legislative Affairs, Leslie will represent the world church and its concerns on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and among Washington’s diplomatic community.

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ADVENTIST ADVOCATE: Attorney Dwayne Leslie brings broad experience from the legal and corporate worlds to his new position as director of Legislative Affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist world church. [photo courtesy PARL]

Leslie replaces attorney James Standish, who served in the department for eight years.

One of his first goals, Leslie said, is to “expand the relationships that James has established, and to build on the great job he’s done in representing the church.”
During a career spanning both the corporate and legal worlds, Leslie has focused on legislative and healthcare issues and has represented a diverse range of clients, from biotechnology companies to media organizations.
Leslie said he would draw inspiration in his new role from the activism of the early Adventist Church which, despite its small size, frequently spoke publically on issues of temperance, freedom of conscience, and human rights.
“Today, we still have so much to contribute to the public discourse--on health, education, and issues of justice and conscience,” Leslie said. “But how can we speak if we don’t have a seat at the table?”
“The story of Adventism will be told--but the question is: Will we choose to tell it ourselves? Or will we allow others to define our church and its agenda for us?” he said.
Leslie brings a broad range of experience and abilities to his new role, said John Graz, PARL director. “But more than this, he brings a strong desire to serve his church and advocate on its behalf,” Graz said.
After studying economics and political science at Andrews University, Leslie went on to earn a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He began his legal career at the international law firm of Jones Day before moving to Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C., where his practice focused on healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology clients. Most recently he served as CEO of Phase V Pharmaceuticals in Silver Spring, Maryland.
When asked what prompted him to accept the position, Leslie said he believes the Adventist Church has a unique mission “to defend religious freedom, to be an advocate for justice, to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Delbert Baker, a general vice president of the world church and an advisor to PARL, called Leslie’s appointment a “decisive step” toward strengthening the church’s presence and impact in the public sphere.
“This is a key position,” Baker said. “Mr. Leslie will have the opportunity to amplify the church’s voice on issues that are central to our mission.”
                                                             --with additional reporting by Adventist News Network staff