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Charles joined CALA after earning a JD/PhD in law and political theory at Northwestern University. At Northwestern he worked as the program assistant for the Buffett Institute's Deportation Research Clinic, which monitors patterns of government misconduct in immigration proceedings, especially the systematic wrongful detention and deportation of U.S. citizens. In this capacity, he worked with detainees and their families to prove citizenship claims and filed Freedom of Information Act requests on their behalf to render transparent patterns of governmental wrongdoing. His dissertation examined the relationship between deportation law and democratic theory. Charles also interned with the ACLU offices in San Diego and Chicago and with Judge Philip P. Simon of the Northern District of Indiana. He served as Submissions Editor for the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, received a Reuben Public Interest Fellowship and a Searle Academic Fellowship, and participated in the Law Scholars Program during his time at Northwestern Law. In graduate school, he served as a TA for four years for courses on constitutional law, the American judiciary, and race and political behavior, among others, and he received a year-long fellowship to study political theory at l'Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) in 2014-15 as part of Northwestern's Program in Critical Theory.

Charles was born and raised in Mobile, AL, but he has called Chicago home since 2008. Although he began his undergraduate education as a classical guitarist at Vanderbilt, he ultimately graduated with an English degree from the University of South Alabama, where he earned a James A. Yance Fellowship for pre-law students and won the 2007 Undergraduate Essay Scholarship. His first job after graduation was as a translator and tour guide for a Spanish-language school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He speaks Spanish.