Ten Harvard Law School staff members — seven individuals and one three-person team — received the 2024 Dean’s Award for Excellence on May 15 for their workplace contributions that embody the spirit of excellence within the Harvard Law School community.

In introducing this year’s awardees, Interim Dean John Goldberg expressed his gratitude for the creativity and spirit this year’s honorees bring to the Harvard Community.

“I have been so impressed by the countless ways our community is enriched by the commitment and collegiality, the skills and the expertise, of everyone in this room,” he said. “It has been very meaningful to have the opportunity to get to know and work more closely with so many of you.”

Attended by faculty and staff alike, the annual Dean’s Award for Excellence event celebrates the achievements of select Harvard Law School community members who have been nominated by their coworkers for their collaboration, commitment, innovation, leadership, and learning. 

An advisory committee comprised of staff from a wide array of departments and previous award recipients reviews nominations and submits recommendations to the dean.

During the event, the dean also recognized two staff members who were selected as 2024 Harvard Heroes, a university-wide program celebrating the mission-focused achievements and extraordinary contributions of Harvard staff each year.

This year’s Harvard Heroes from Harvard Law School — Monique Henriques, who serves as a talent acquisition partner in the Office of Human Resources, and Lori Schulsinger, a collections development coordinator in the Harvard Law School Library — will be honored on June 13 in Sanders Theatre.

2023-2024 Dean’s Award Honorees

Samantha R. Burkefaculty assistant, Faculty Support Services 

As a faculty assistant, Samantha Burke coordinates externships for students on behalf of a dozen Harvard Law School instructors and an additional visiting faculty member. According to her colleagues, she consistently handles her various responsibilities with precision, thoughtfulness, and grace.

Marcus Calegarsenior manager of Building Services, Facilities 

Marcus Calegar has the essential duty of managing keys and access cards for the 23 buildings on Harvard Law School’s campus as the senior manager of Building Services. Described as a “true leader-by-example,” Calegar, who previously managed a staff of over 50 for the custodial department, was recognized by colleagues for his “diligence, proactivity, and care.”

Alida J. Castillodirector of Harvard Trade Union Program, Center for Labor and a Just Economy 

Alida Castillo has been praised by her colleagues for successfully implementing fresh ideas and innovation as the program director for the Center for Labor and a Just Economy’s Trade Union Program, an executive education program for trade union leaders first established at Harvard Law School in 1942. Under her leadership, the Trade Union Program has strengthened its reputation and collaborative relationships with other Harvard programs and schools.

Olivia Klein, communications coordinator, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs 

Described by as a “consummate team member,” Olivia Klein elevates deeply meaningful work taking place at Harvard Law School as the communications coordinator for the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. According to her peers, Klein’s talented writing and insightful strategic planning magnify the impact of the amazing work carried out by clinical students, faculty, and staff.

Caitie Parmelee, LL.M. and Student Affairs program administrator, Graduate Program 

As the LL.M. and Student Affairs program administrator, Caitie Parmelee oversees LL.M. papers, orientation programming, and student events, and has been instrumental in helping to launch a user-friendly LL.M. clinical registration process, and redesigning the LL.M. Admitted Students Website. Her colleagues describe her as “innovative,” “detail-oriented,” and “a team player fully dedicated to ensuring an exceptional LL.M. student experience.”

Kelsey Ryan, program manager, International Human Rights Clinic 

As the program manager for the International Human Rights Clinic, Kelsey Ryan works with six full-time clinicians and approximately 30 students each term to generate content for the clinic’s website and social media. Colleagues say her commitment to excellence, collaboration, and innovation have ascended to new levels as she has taken on new responsibilities within the IHR clinic.

Tara Townsend, assistant director of Student Life, Dean of Students 

Tara Townsend is known among her colleagues for bringing an enormous amount of knowledge, compassion, reassurance, and gentle guidance to her role as assistant director of Student Life. Summing up her impact on the campus community, one colleague describes Tara as “one of those people who makes Harvard Law School a brighter place.”

Prison Legal Assistance Project (Team Award):

  • John Fitzpatrick, senior clinical instructor for Student Practice (not pictured);
  • Shanell Lavery, program manager; 
  • Joel Thompson, managing attorney and clinical instructor 

Through policy work, impact litigation, and direct advocacy, the Prison Legal Assistance Project, or PLAP, is a student practice organization at Harvard Law School that makes a positive difference in the lives of incarcerated individuals, while providing fantastic educational opportunities for students. This year’s PLAP honorees manage a large cohort of students every year and share a commitment to the core values of advancing justice and providing a fertile educational environment. Many students and alums have described their time with PLAP as “an extraordinarily rewarding experience.”