Blog: Staff

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December 9, 2015

Op-Ed: Staff Are Organizing To Fight Racism at Harvard Law School

Posted by Gabriela Gonzalez Follett

This Op-Ed was originally posted in the Harvard Law School Record, as part of #HLSUntaped, an open discussion on race at the law school. 

When I first started working at Harvard Law School, I had 13 stops. That’s how long it took to get from Ashmont Station, near my childhood home in Dorchester, to Harvard Square, where I had just accepted a job as a program assistant. Thirteen stops I had to convince myself that I belonged at the law school and that I had a place among the elite. Even today, a year later, I stop outside Wasserstein every morning, take a couple of deep breaths, and prepare to leave a part of myself on Massachusetts Avenue.

It’s my job as a staff member to serve the HLS community. I serve students their food, I process affidavit letters for alums, and I book professors’ rooms for meetings. But just because I serve  does not make me a servant. Many people at HLS understand this. But in an institution that has a strong caste system, with very few people of color at the top, it is inevitable that some individuals treat staff as the “other.”

I’ve been described as an affirmative action hire before—that comes with the territory of being Latina in America. But I never thought I’d hear this comment at an elite institution like Harvard Law School, let alone on my second week of work. I never thought I’d hear a student tell  me  I speak well, coming from Dorchester with a Latina background. This rhetoric of racism  is not unique. The narratives I hear from staff of color at the law school about these kinds of micro aggressions are paralyzing, and need to be addressed.

As little support as the students of color get at this school, staff of color get even less. The law school has an opportunity to embrace the movement and empower its community. Establish an office of diversity and inclusion, as well as other institutional changes aimed at curtailing organizational hierarchy and injustice against students, staff and faculty. Make a sustained commitment to the recruitment, retention, promotion, and professional development of staff of color at all levels, particularly in senior management. Implement measures to ensure staff of color are respected and supported in their work, including required cultural competency training for all.

The privilege I have as an administrator in the Human Rights Program allows me to speak out and not fear reprisal. I can organize and attend meetings because my community not only supports and encourages this work, but trusts that I will get my work done. Other staff do not have that kind of freedom.

It has been an honor to take a place in this growing movement at HLS. Relationships are building in all corners of the school. Staff of color are meeting for “family dinner,” a place to find fellowship and work towards empowering each other.  Staff and students are coming together, energized, collaborative, and committed to creating a better climate. Allies across the law school offer support and valuable skills in times where it can feel overwhelming for people of color.

I invite you—staff, students, administrators, senior management, Dean Minow–to join us.

To follow the movement, check out #ReclaimHarvardLaw and #RoyallMust Fall, a campaign specifically targeted at getting the law school’s crest removed. The crest is taken from the seal of the Royall family, known as particularly brutal slavers.

Below, images from an effort led by Gabriela, Anna Crowe and Katherine Talbot  to show staff solidarity with people of color at the law school.

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September 25, 2012

Kaitlyn Hennigan Honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence

Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

Our very own Kaitlyn Hennigan was one of nine employees honored yesterday with the Dean’s Award for Excellence.  This annual award recognizes HLS employees who excel in multiple areas: innovation, leadership, commitment, learning, and collaboration.

Kaitlyn celebrates with her parents after receiving the Dean’s Award for Excellence.

As we wrote in our nomination, Kaitlyn epitomizes these qualities.  As Program Coordinator, she makes the Clinic hum along smoothly, administering all aspects of our extremely large shop with limitless energy and friendliness.  These qualities are matched by organizational skills and creativity that give her an uncanny ability to juggle a dozen things at once, and efficiently. She interacts daily with students and clinicians, answering questions and emails about clinical processes or policies, and communicating about courses and projects.

Students and clinicians know that Kaitlyn is reliable and dependable, and regularly look to her for advice and suggestions.  They consistently praise her responsiveness and warmth, as well as her ability to thoughtfully solve problems. In short, Kaitlyn is a “go to” person not only for our clinicians and students, but also for other departments that recognize her as an invaluable team player and resource.

We’re so lucky to be able to depend on Kaitlyn, knowing she’ll take care of everything with excellence that represents our Clinic and the Law School in the very best light.  Congratulations, Kaitlyn, on this well-deserved award!

NOTE: In addition to Kaitlyn, the Dean honored eight more of our colleagues at Monday’s ceremony: John Arciprete, Director of Facilities, Facilities Management; Kirsten Bermingham, Assistant Director for Administration, OPIA; Lisa Burns, Registrar, Registrar’s Office; Kathleen Curley, Program Administrator, Faculty Support Services; Russell Keyes, Building Services Coordinator, Facilities Management; Sarah Morton, Administrative Director, Prison Legal Aid Program; Darris Saylors, Student Programs Manager, Dean of Students; Jeanne Tai, Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies.


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August 22, 2012

Giannini and Neuman appointed co-directors of the Human Rights Program

Posted by Harvard Law School Communications

Tyler Giannini, Clinical Professor of Law, and Gerald L. Neuman ’80, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign and Comparative Law, have been appointed co-directors of the Human Rights Program (HRP) at Harvard Law School.

Said HLS Dean Martha Minow: “I’m delighted to announce Gerry Neuman and Tyler Giannini as co-directors of Harvard’s Human Rights Program. Tyler is a pioneer in the development of theories of liability in the field of human rights, and his efforts have guided our path-breaking clinic and he has collaborated with clinical students and superb colleagues in human rights advocacy pursuing all the available tools—investigations, litigation, media, and coalition-building. Gerry’s distinguished scholarship spans human rights, constitutional law, and regulations of immigration and refugees; his immense expertise in international human rights law includes his invaluable contributions and experiences as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Committee. Outstanding as individuals, Tyler and Gerry are an amazing team, and I look forward to the new initiatives emerging through their collaboration and leadership.”

HRP is the central venue for international human rights work at Harvard Law School, offering students a range of opportunities to engage in academic pursuits and to apply theory to practice, both on campus and abroad. By fostering scholarship, engagement with pressing issues, and training in human rights advocacy, HRP’s faculty has worked for decades to educate students who will become leaders of the human rights movement. Now in its 28th year, HRP was founded by Emeritus Professor Henry Steiner ’55.

“I cannot think of two better people than Gerald Neuman and Tyler Giannini to continue to strengthen HRP as one of the premiere human rights programs in the world,” said Lisa Dealy, assistant dean of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. “Having them both at the helm of this joint directorship ensures that the International Human Rights Clinic is closely integrated with the academic Human Rights Program, which is greatly beneficial to both the practice on the ground and the broader study of human rights law.”

“It’s an honor to be part of HRP and its long tradition of excellence,” Giannini said. “HRP represents the very best in the Law School’s efforts to combine scholarship and practice in an academic setting. HRP is a place where scholarship is informed by practice through our International Human Rights Clinic, and just as importantly, the efforts of our Clinic are enriched greatly by HRP’s engagement with intellectual pursuits.”

Said Neuman: “I am excited about continuing the Human Rights Program’s tradition of intellectually rigorous engagement with the field of human rights advocacy and implementation. I also hope to build stronger connections with the wider academic community here at HLS, and in the University more generally.”

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March 27, 2012

Today: Candy and the Clinical Forum!

Posted by Cara Solomon

We’ve put away the chips and salsa from yesterday’s Open House and we’re moving on to…CANDY for tomorrow’s Clinical Forum!

Please join us for a delicious and non-nutritious assortment of treats from 6:00-8:00 pm in Milstein East BC. This is your chance to:

– Chat with our clinicians about their projects and seminars.

– Grill our students about what it’s like to be a member of the Clinic.

– Learn about the dozens of other clinical programs at HLS , including Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, our neighbor in the clinical wing and, more importantly, our friend!

Formal announcement below. Hope to see you soon.

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