Alison McCrary to discuss ‘Social Justice’ in Nelson Mandela series

Alison McCrary to discuss ‘Social Justice’ in Nelson Mandela series

POSTED: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 6:30am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 6:34am

Alison McCrary, a young lawyer and nun working for racial and economic justice in the New Orleans area, will be the next presenter in the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs speaker series.

McCrary is the Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow at the grassroots group Safe Streets/Strong Communities in New Orleans, where she challenges police practices and policies that threaten the city’s indigenous cultural traditions.

The 30-year-old lawyer has also worked on racial and economic justice issues in Brazil and with victims of Agent Orange in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Her presentation, “Social Justice and the Urban Community,” will be held at noon, March 21, in the lobby of Higgins Hall.

She is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, and is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, an order of Roman Catholic nuns where she is in formation to become a nun.

“People may wonder about how someone can have a professional career and respond to a call to religious life,” McCrary said in a recent interview. “It’s really a natural fit. I see a strong link between prayer, community, and social justice work.”

In 2006, McCrary became a paralegal with the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, where she worked with indigent defendants and began visiting people on Death Row. She has worked for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Louisiana Voters’ Rights Network and the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office.

In addition to local social justice issues, McCrary is also interested in international racial and poverty issues. She assisted with Loyola’s Brazil Summer Institute in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, in 2008. She lived and volunteered for three months in the slums of Rocinha—one of the largest and most dangerous slums in South America.

McCrary also completed a one-year master’s program in Mainz, Germany, where she was a teaching assistant. She is proficient in German, Spanish, Brazilian, and Portuguese.

The Georgia native received her B.A. in English from Georgia State University and completed coursework at the University of Surrey in London, Boston College’s School of Theology and Loyola’s Institute for Ministry.

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