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Advisors

Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean for Public Service
Judy Murciano, Associate Director and Director of Fellowships
Catherine Pattanayak ’04, Director
Joan Ruttenberg ’82, Director, Heyman Fellowship Program
Dovie King, Assistant Director
Rachel Pemstein, Assistant Director for Alumni Advising
Tina Fitanides, Attorney Advisor
Sabrina Mahtani, Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence
Carolyn Stafford Stein ’85, Attorney Advisor
Lisa Lana ’14
, Attorney Advisor
Dan Ahearn
, Attorney Advisor
Virginia (Ginny) Greiman, Attorney Advisor

Administrative

Micah Nemiroff, Assistant Director for Programs and Operations
Linda Braden, Program Coordinator and Communications Administrator
Tasha Griffiths, PSVF Coordinator and Staff Assistant


head shot of Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean for Public Service and Director of the Office of Public Interest Advising

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 and the 2016 NALP Service Excellence Award.

Advising areas: General advising; children’s issues; civil rights and civil liberties; criminal prosecution and defense; domestic economic development; education issues; environmental law; general advising; human rights; immigration; legal services, NGOs; nonprofits;  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

Catherine Pattanayak ’04, Esq., 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, received the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Recognition Award from the Class of 2015, and received the 2018 HLS Student Government Teaching & Advising Award.

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


Joan Ruttenberg ’82, 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 US 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.


Headshot of Dovie King

Dovie Yoana King, Esq., is a public interest attorney with 18 years of experience representing immigrants and low-income individuals. Most recently, she worked in private practice as a founding attorney of a San Diego workers’ rights law firm. She also did significant advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence, earning the Wiley W. Manuel award from the State Bar of California for two consecutive years in a row for her pro bono work. Additionally, Dovie has been awarded the Outstanding Service Award by the San Diego Legal Aid Society. Dovie’s prior experience includes advising law students, LL.M. students and alumni about public sector careers, post-graduate fellowships and volunteer opportunities. In 1999, she was a recipient of an Equal Justice Works Fellowship at the Legal Aid Society in New York, where she helped Spanish-speaking clients with respect to their public assistance benefits. During law school, Dovie was the President of the Latina/o Law Students Association at Northeastern University School of Law and participated in the poverty law clinic. She was a judicial extern to the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California, and clerked at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Center for Reproductive Law and a union-side labor law firm as a participant of the AFL-CIO’s Minority Outreach Program. Dovie earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Political Science at Brown University in 1994, and her J.D. in 1999.

Advising areas: General advising; civil rights/liberties; immigration; labor/employment; legal services; nonprofit; nontraditional/alternative careers; private public interest law firms; women’s issues


Rachel Pemstein, Esq., has returned to Harvard Law School in 2017 as the Assistant Director for Alumni Advising after having been the Director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Jewish Family & Children’s.  A cum laude graduate of Barnard College (’90) and The University of Chicago Law School (’94), Rachel has worked in a variety of legal settings and has always participated in a variety of public interest efforts. In law school, Rachel served the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and the Illinois Clemency Project for Battered Women. Upon graduation, Rachel launched her career at the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart where she practiced healthcare law. After, she worked with in-house counsel at the Massachusetts Medical Society. She then became a J.D. Advisor with the Harvard Law School Office of Career Services where she worked with students embarking on their own legal careers. Most recently, during her 11 years at JF&CS Bet Tzedek, Rachel directed the integration of legal services into the agency’s health and human services delivery model and oversaw growth of the program to serve the needs of its most vulnerable clients. Rachel is passionate about the legal rights of the underserved, especially domestic abuse and hunger issues among the low-income community.

Advising areas: Alumni


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Tina Fitanides, Esq., Attorney Advisor, is currently a Policy Analyst with Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) where she focuses on all stages of legislative and administrative advocacy campaigns related to autism and special education issues to help ensure children with disabilities have access to necessary services and supports.   Prior to her time at MAC, Tina practiced as a Staff Attorney at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts (now called Community Legal Aid) in Worcester, MA where she litigated family law and domestic violence cases.  While there, she also participated the legislative committees of both the Family Law Task Force and the Governor’s Commission on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.   Tina also practiced at the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse in Alexandria, VA where she provided case and research assistance to Prosecutors and law makers nationwide on issues related to child abuse and neglect and domestic violence.   Tina held several policy related positions while in law school at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and prior to law school served as a Legislative Aid at the Massachusetts State House.

Advising areas: Children’s issues; education; legal services; nonprofits


Sabrina Mahtani, OPIA/HRP Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence, is joining OPIA for fall 2018 semester.

Sabrina Mahtani is a human rights lawyer from Zambia/ UK. She has over 14 years experience working in the human rights field and is a specialist on rights of women in the criminal justice system in Africa. She has prepared cases before domestic, regional and international courts.

Since 2014, she has worked as a researcher at Amnesty International, leading the organization’s research and advocacy work on Anglophone West Africa. She documented human rights abuses in Gambia, under former President Jammeh, and is currently working on the transitional justice and accountability process. Her work has also included groundbreaking research on pregnant girls banned from mainstream education in Sierra Leone and documenting violations of fair trial rights of prisoners on death row in Ghana. She has also worked on several cases before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. Sabrina is also the founder of the award winning NGO, AdvocAid, which is the only holistic organization in West Africa providing access to justice, education and empowerment for women in the criminal justice in Sierra Leone. The organization has freed four women on death row and provided legal aid to over 4000 women. She has previously worked at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Sabrina is a regular writer and commentator on human rights issues in West Africa and has written for a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera, The Africa Portal and New Internationalist. She also co-founded the first human rights film festival in Sierra Leone, has worked on a number of human rights documentaries and created the first legal education TV series in Sierra Leone. Sabrina has won several awards and fellowships, such as the Amnesty International Gender Defender award, Vital Voices Lead Fellowship and the Trainee Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award at the Law Society Junior Lawyers Awards. Sabrina is admitted to practice in England and Wales. She holds a B.A. in Law and History from University College London and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University.

Advising areas: Human rights; international; LL.M.


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Carolyn Stafford Stein ’85, Esq., Attorney Advisor, is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston where she worked in the Public Corruption and Special Crimes Unit, the Economic Crimes Unit, and the Major Crimes Unit, and directed the Student Intern Program. Carolyn has also served as Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. As a Lecturer at HLS, she taught Government Lawyer and supervised students in clinical placements and in third-year papers relating to issues in prosecution. An advisor to Acre Family Childcare in Lowell, Massachusetts, Carolyn is active in working for economic independence for women and high quality early childhood education in low-income and immigrant neighborhoods in Lowell. Carolyn’s previous experience includes clerking for the Honorable Robert E. Keeton of the District of Massachusetts, and working as an associate with firms in San Francisco and Boston. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1985 and was a member of the Harvard Law Review.

Advising areas: General advising; federal government; criminal prosecution


Lisa Lana ’14, Esq., Attorney Advisor, is a trial attorney with the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Service (CPCS) in Massachusetts. She joined YAD in 2015 as a trial attorney funded through the Harvard Public Service Venture Fund Fellowship. With YAD, Lisa represents youth charged with crimes in delinquency and youthful offender proceedings, utilizing the Positive Youth Development model. She also provides educational advocacy and family/community support. Before this, Lisa clerked for the Honorable Justice Mark V. Green on the Massachusetts Appeals Court. She was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 2014 after graduating from Harvard Law School.  During law school, she was a student attorney with the Criminal Justice Institute, the Child Advocacy Clinic, the Immigration Project, and the Mississippi Delta Project. She was the student government president for two years and held summer internships with the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and the ACLU National Office’s Racial Justice Program. Lisa also completed a Master’s in Social Work at the University of Denver in 2004. She worked in the Denver area for seven years as a clinical social worker providing wraparound and therapy services for court-involved youth with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Lisa received a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Abilene Christian University in 2003.

Advising areas: Public defense


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; health law


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; LL.M.; state and local government.


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 B.A. 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.


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 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.


Head shot of Tasha Griffiths

Tasha Griffiths, Public Service Venture Fund Coordinator and Staff Assistant joined OPIA from UC San Diego where she worked in the Graduate Division, coordinating program reviews and doctoral committee constitutions. Prior to UC San Diego, Tasha worked for various non-profit organizations, including as a Development Manager for YALLA, a small nonprofit providing refugee youth with the tools to succeed in the classroom. She received her B.A. in international relations, magna cum laude, from the University of San Diego. Tasha enjoys cycling, listening to podcasts, live music, and cooking.