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Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean for Public Service
Judy Murciano, Associate Director and Director of Fellowships
Catherine Pattanayak, Associate Director
Renay Frankel, Assistant Director
Joan Ruttenberg, Director, Heyman Fellowship Program
Dan Ahearn, Attorney Advisor
Nima Eshghi, Attorney Advisor
Virginia (Ginny) Greiman, Attorney Advisor
Jim Tierney,
Attorney Advisor
Scott R. Anderson, Research Fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict


Linda Braden, Program Coordinator and Communications Administrator
Andrew Celis,
Program Coordinator for the Public Service Venture Fund
Micah Nemiroff,
Assistant Director for Programs and Operations
Thera Webb, Staff Assistant, Ford Foundation Fellowship

Alexa Shabecoff, Esq., Assistant Dean for Public Service, has been with OPIA since 1994 after having served as the Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence at OPIA during the Fall of 1993. Before joining OPIA, Alexa worked for over seven years as a legal services attorney in Boston and St. Louis. While in legal services, she specialized in housing law and participated in litigation, policy advocacy, and community education. She is a 1986 graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden Scholar and Vice President of the Public Interest Law Foundation, and a 1982 cum laude graduate of Brandeis University. During law school she worked for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Office of the City Council President in New York, Legal Aid Society of New York, and Coalition for the Homeless. Between college and law school, she spent a year as a paralegal with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund in Kentucky. She is a member of the Lead Boston Class of ’99. Alexa received the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Appreciation Award from the Harvard Law School Class of 2004.

Advising areas: General advising; children’s issues; civil rights and civil liberties; criminal prosecution and defense; Department of Justice; domestic economic development; education issues; environmental law; general advising; human rights; immigration; legal services, NGOs; nonprofits; and private public interest law firms.

Judy Murciano

Judith Murciano, Esq., is the Associate Director and Director of Fellowships in the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at Harvard Law School.  She holds a faculty appointment and has advised students on fellowships, supervised dozens of public interest programs, including the Ford Public Interest Program, served as resident dean for thousands of Harvard University students, and wrote and edited public interest law publications over two decades. She has taught (Constitutional Law, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.) at Harvard and Princeton University and her Ph.D. dissertation on censorship was supported by fellowships at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. She has won numerous teaching awards and Faculty Innovation grants. Judith served as Legislative Director (testified on more than 2,000 pieces of civil liberties legislation) and Acting Executive Director of the NJ-ACLU, chaired the NJ Bar’s Juvenile Justice Comm., supervised the ACLU Farmworkers Project, and clerked for a NY Supreme Court Justice & worked in the Bronx criminal courts. She has written political essays for The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as human rights articles for the International Herald Tribune and Radio Free Europe, while working for Amnesty International in Paris. A recipient of Dean’s Award for Excellence (2008) and Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Award (class of 2010) at HLS, Judith is a certified grant-writer, negotiator and mediator, as a well as a principal associate in an international consulting firm focused on the Middle East and Asia.  Most recently, she is working on issues involving cyber-trafficking and systemic justice.

Advising areas: Fellowships.


Catherine Pattanayak, Esq., Associate Director, joined OPIA in the spring of 2009 after practicing law in both the public and private sectors. Before joining OPIA, Catherine worked as a senior attorney with the NIH Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the General Counsel. During her three year tenure at HHS, Catherine served as the lead Branch attorney for grants policy, compliance and enforcement issues and international legal issues, and received, among other performance awards, three NIH Director’s Awards, the highest award given by the NIH. Prior to her government service, Catherine worked as a health care associate in the Boston office of Ropes & Gray LLP. Catherine is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (’04), where she served on the Board of Student Advisers, and a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (’99). Between college and law school, Catherine worked as a Research Analyst with the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute in Washington, DC.  Catherine was a 2014 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence and received the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Recognition Award from the Class of 2015.

Advising areas: General advising; criminal prosecution and defense; Department of Justice; federal government;  environmental law; health law.

Renay Frankel, Esq., Assistant Director, joined OPIA in 2014 after practicing for 8 years in the public sector. Prior to joining OPIA, she served as the Community and Legal Resources Coordinator at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), a position she created to expand CPCS’ holistic defense practice and address clients’ civil legal issues. In this role, she provided training and advice to court-appointed criminal defense attorneys in Massachusetts regarding the civil consequences of criminal cases. She also facilitated collaboration between the public defender agency, civil legal services providers and community partners in order to support public defender clients. In 2009, she was the recipient of a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship. She previously worked as a public defender for the Committee for Public Counsel Services and as a housing attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. Renay is a graduate of Northeastern University Law School (’06) and Skidmore College (’01). During law school, Renay worked for the New York Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco Public Defender, LevyRatner, P.C., and the Youth Advocacy Division of CPCS. She was also a student attorney and teaching assistant in the Northeastern Law School Prisoners’ Rights Clinic. Prior to attending law school, Renay worked at a labor and employment law firm and a labor union in New York City.

Advising areas: General advising; criminal prosecution and defense.

Joan Ruttenberg, Esq., Director of the Heyman Fellowship program, joined OPIA in the fall of 2004. Joan’s professional experience spans both academia and government law practice. For many years, Joan taught health law, political science, health economics and legal research and writing in a variety of academic settings: Boston University School of Law, the University of Chicago Law School, Northeastern University Law School, Brandeis University, Wellesley College, and the Graduate Program for Health Care Administration at Simmons College. Prior to teaching, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts, with responsibility for administrative litigation, rulemaking and legislative activities concerning health care and insurance. Before beginning law practice, Joan clerked for Judge Francis D. Murnaghan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Baltimore and was a Bigelow Teaching Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Joan is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois (’78) and a cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School (’82).

Advising areas: Criminal prosecution; cyberlaw, Department of Justice; election law; federal government; health law; state and local government; and U.S. Attorney careers.

Daniel Ahearn, Esq., Attorney Advisor, practices disability, special education, education, and children’s law. Dan provides representation in special education matters for children in state custody; provides consultation and training on legal issues for schools and parents; and serves as a mediator in special education disputes. Dan currently teaches a Children & Disability Law course at Suffolk University Law School, teaches in the First Year Program at Boston University School of Law and works in the education field at the Landmark School. He chairs the annual Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminars, Key Issues in Special Education and School Law Basics; is a contributing author to School Law (a MCLE publication), and has authored legal guides for parents for the Learning Disabilities Association. His background includes work as the Director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals; as Senior Attorney at the Disability Law Center, focused in the areas of special education and disability law; as Managing Attorney at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, where he provided counsel and representation for psychiatric facilities and programs, and as a law clerk to federal judge Robert J. Yock. He received his M.A. in Education from Tufts University and his law degree from Suffolk University Law School where he served as an editor on the Suffolk Law Review.

Advising areas: General advising; children’s issues; disability; education issues; and health law.

Nima Rajabipour Eshghi, Esq., Attorney Advisor. Nima Eshghi joined OPIA in 2010 after practicing law in both the public and private sectors. Prior to joining OPIA, Nima worked as a staff attorney at GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) in Boston where she was a member of the legal team that successfully challenged the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the First Circuit. Additionally, she worked on a key case involving a school district’s right to include LGBT inclusive books in the classroom, handled several family and youth matters, and supervised GLAD’s legal internship program. Nima also has experience in Legal Services. From 2000-2003, she was a Staff Attorney and Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center, where she represented clients living with HIV/AIDS in guardianship proceedings, health care access and estate planning while supervising clinical students. Nima has twice taught as an Adjunct Professor at Northeastern University School of Law. Her private sector experience includes having worked as an associate at Foley Hoag and serving as Director of Professional Development at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. Nima began her legal career as a law clerk to Chief Justice Herbert P. Wilkins of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. During law school, she completed internships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington (Seattle), the Honorable Reginald C. Lindsay of the District Court of Massachusetts, the AIDS Law Clinic at Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center, and two large law firms. Prior to law school, Nima worked in HIV/AIDS education and advocacy. Nima has extensive Board experience, including having recently completed a 6-year term as a Trustee of Shady Hill School (Cambridge), and having previously served on the Boards of GLAD and the Boston Women’s Fund.

Nima earned her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Washington, and B.A. from Smith College.

Advising areas: General advising; civil rights and civil liberties; disability; education; health; legal services; nonprofits; nontraditional careers; private public interest law firms; women’s issues.

Virginia (Ginny) Greiman, Esq., Attorney Advisor, has more than 20 years of experience in federal and state government public policy positions as an appointee of the U.S. Attorney General to the U.S. Department of Justice, as an international consultant to the U.S. Department of State in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as an Administrative Law Judge and General Counsel to several State agencies. Presently, she is the Deputy Director and Chief Legal Counsel, Executive Office of Economic Development, Department of Business and Technology for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Before this appointment, she served as Litigation Counsel and Director of Risk Management to the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. She has extensive teaching experience as an adjunct and visiting professor of International and Corporate Law at Georgetown University Law Center, Boston University School of Law, and as a faculty fellow to Oxford University in Comparative International Law. She also serves as a teaching assistant to the Trial Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. Ginny has served on many boards including Women in World Trade, the Massachusetts Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance, and the British American Business Council of New England and she is a member of the Federalist Society. She has published extensively and lectures internationally. Ginny holds a B.S. Degree from Pennsylvania State University, M.Ed. from Boston University, J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and LL.M. from Boston University School of Law.

Advising areas: Conservative/Libertarian; Department of Justice; domestic and international economic development; federal government; international; LLM; state and local government.

Attorneys General Staff, July 17, 2014Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Jim Tierney Esq., Attorney Advisor, served as the Attorney General of Maine from 1980 until 1990. During his ten years as Attorney General of Maine, Mr. Tierney played an active role in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and has instructed newly elected state Attorneys General on the effective performance of their office for many years. Mr. Tierney has served as a Special Prosecutor in Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Vermont and, on behalf of NAAG, has authored an analysis of the operations of state grand jury practice. He travels regularly to visit in offices of attorney general where he regularly conducts ethics seminars for attorneys general and their staffs. Please make sure to watch Professor Tierney’s A Brief Introduction to the World of State Attorneys General video, and bring a printed copy of your resume to your meeting. Appointments with Jim may be made here.

Advising areas: State and local government


Scott R. Anderson is a Research Fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, as well as an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and an Associate of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Mr. Anderson previously served as an Attorney-Adviser with the U.S. Department of State where, among other responsibilities, he advised policymakers on various legal issues relating to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. From 2012 to 2013, he was the Embassy Legal Adviser for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. He is also a former law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and law degree from the Yale Law School.

Advising areas: International; Federal Government.


Portrait of Linda Braden

Linda Braden, Program Coordinator and Communications Administrator, joined us from the University of Montana’s Office of International Programs, where she served as Media Information Specialist and Assistant to the Director and before that, as Study Abroad Coordinator. Linda has a BA in International Affairs from Xavier University and an MA in International Studies and Latin American Studies from Ohio University, where she worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Latin American Studies Program. She enjoys practicing Aikido and yoga, gardening, traveling, cooking, biking, and hiking.


Andrew Celis, Public Service Venture Fund Program Coordinator, joined OPIA from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, a non-profit affordable housing agency where he focused on housing policy as well as service delivery. Andrew holds a BA in History & International Studies from Northwestern University as well as a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Kellogg School of Management. Andrew enjoys spending time with family, cooking with his wife, mountaineering, biking, exploring New England and has a passion for learning.

Micah Nemiroff, Assistant Director for Programs and Operations, joined OPIA from Harvard Medical School where he worked in a curriculum support office. Prior to Harvard Medical School, Micah worked on campaigns in Southeastern Pennsylvania and as a government relations intern with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. He received his BA in history and political science from Syracuse University in Upstate New York. Micah is an avid hiker who enjoys getting out to the White Mountains at every opportunity. He also enjoys music, and has played drums for over 20 years. Micah was also a 2014 recipient of the Harvard Heroes award.

Thera Webb

Thera Webb, Staff Assistant. Thera Webb came to OPIA from Northeastern University’s School of Nursing where she was Program Assistant for the PhD and DNP degrees. Thera has a BA in Gender Studies from the New School and an MFA in Poetry from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. She is a published poet and acts as an editor for a local small press.