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Restoration Praise Member Appointed New World Church Representative to Capitol Hill

Story by Melissa Reid

Dwayne Leslie, a member of Potomac Conference’s Restoration Praise Center in Lanham, Md., was appointed as an associate director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and director of Legislative Affairs. In this capacity, Leslie will represent the world church and its concerns both on Capitol Hill and in the surrounding diplomatic community.

Leslie has achieved a diverse range of experience and a high degree of success in both the corporate and legal worlds. Although always active in his local congregation—he currently chairs the finance committee at Restoration Praise—this is Leslie’s first full-time position with the Adventist Church. He brings a broad range of experience and abilities to his new role, says John Graz, PARL director, “But more than this, he brings a strong desire to serve his church and advocate on its behalf.”

Leslie, a graduate of Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Md., shares, “In my previous career, I spent vast amounts of time and travel helping people make money ... people who maybe did not share the same values or goals as me. When presented with the unique opportunity to utilize my skills for my church, I felt impressed by God to accept the responsibility.”

As for goals for his new position, Leslie has many. “As Adventists, we need a seat at the table with the world’s decision-makers,” he says. “The perception of our church has historically been defined by others, and that needs to change. We need to be aware of and involved in anything that impacts our members’ freedom to worship.”

He additionally plans to nurture relationships the Legislative Affairs office has already developed, and establish new contacts with other key government and faith leaders. “A real priority of mine is to foster relationships with the diplomatic community,” Leslie continues. “Our church is a world church with a global presence. We need to broaden our relationships with embassies so that when a situation occurs, in whichever region of the world, we already have established channels of communication with the local government.”

After studying economics and political science at Andrews University (Mich.), Leslie went on to earn a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He started 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, Md.

Leslie says he has been touched by the affirmation of support he has already received from local church members and leaders, and strives to represent the church to the best of his ability. “Being able to help my church in this capacity is absolutely a privilege,” he comments.