“Being lucky enough to work with the students, I feel like I am part of history,” said Pamelyn Bennett, this year’s recipient of Harvard Law School’s Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Appreciation Award.

During Class Day exercises on May 22, Bennett, who joined the law school in 2022, was honored by the Class of 2024 for her organizational skills, her devotion to the Harvard Law community, and her inspiring attitude.

The award is given each year to a staff member who demonstrates commitment to the student experience and concern for students’ lives and work. Bennett is the 28th recipient of the staff award and the 20th since it was renamed for Suzanne Richardson, who served as Harvard Law School’s dean of students from 1993 to 2004.

“I have met some incredible people in the last eighteen months,” said Bennett, who supports thousands of student-organized events each year. “It’s amazing that with a phone call from a Harvard Law School student, the individuals that show up at this place for a 45-minute lunch meeting. I have met politicians, heads of state, sports stars, actors, authors and more, and all because you have invited me as if I belonged there as part of your group.”

Bennett has worked with the law school’s many student organizations on campus to plan meetings, lunches, conferences, and other events. She came to Harvard Law School from Marriott International, where she spent three decades in roles including sales and events management. She has traveled to over 40 countries, often with her son and mother. As she proudly noted in her acceptance speech, her son Michael is now a pilot.

“Pam is in charge of every single student-organized event in HLS—as most of us know, a seemingly insurmountable task,” Class Marshal Carlos Guerrero Alarcon ’24 said in his introductory remarks.  “However, thanks to her incessant efforts and the unwavering support of the Harvard Law School staff, dozens of student organizations and journals successfully hosted 1,266 events during this academic year, attracting global thought leaders and world-renown practitioners to our campus, and enriching the academic dialogue that makes Harvard Law School a global leader in legal education.” Alarcon said that Bennett taught him and his classmates to love the work they do, to maintain a positive attitude, and not to worry about who gets the credit. “Pam is not only a tremendous problem solver, but a problem solver who will always do her job with a smile,” he said. “If you leave the room not only having done your job, but also making people’s day a bit more pleasant, you will have succeeded twice. Pam always succeeds twice.”

“If you leave the room not only having done your job, but also making people’s day a bit more pleasant, you will have succeeded twice. Pam always succeeds twice.”

Class Marshal Carlos Guerrero Alarcon ’24 introducing Pam Bennett

“You make this old lady feel so young and involved,” Bennett said in a warm greeting to the graduating class. “What an incredible honor it is to receive this award for doing something that I love to do each and every day and is truly just me being me. All I can say is a huge thank you to the students that make this place so amazing.”

Acknowledging the prestige of the award, Bennett said she didn’t intend to brag about her accomplishments—but “since I am semi-in charge of this entire shindig you are attending,” she’d do it just a little.

“I have come to know so many of you,” Bennett said, before recounting some of the now-humorous interactions she’s had with some of the graduating students in the audience. “The phone calls at all hours of the day? That’s OK. The emails over the weekend? I’ll answer them. You forgot you needed a meeting room for a small group of 80 people starting in two hours? No problem! You need to use a skill saw in the Austin basement? Make sure you wear safety goggles, and just don’t tell anyone.”

“You all know who you are, and I love each and every one of you,” she said, before adding with a wry smile. “The ones who have made me baked goods and other treats, I may love just a little bit more.”

Bennett promised to still be there for the students after they graduate. “I take the role of fairy godmother very seriously: Short, round, and maybe a little flighty, but trying to do anything in my power to make you and your organizations successful and happy—and sometimes throwing in a little magic to make everything work. For those of you who need me, you know I will still have the same number and email…If you just need a ‘mom’ to talk to, I will always be there for you.”

“I have finally found my work home at Harvard. And as I tell people all the time and say to so many of you, I love my job.”

She offered thanks to her supervisor, Stacy Goodwin; her coworkers, Marie von Kampen, Kathleen Tracy McEachern, and Angelica Ocegueda; and especially her “cell mate” Cara O’Neill.

“The amount of events this team is responsible for each year is mind blowing, in the thousands,” she said. “And each one of them is worked to perfection not only by the events team but our catering team and the custodial staff. I am proud to call all of them my friends, not just coworkers.”

With that, Bennett said it was time to run offstage and get back to work on the next day’s ceremonies.

“My mother always taught me, just be the best version of yourself and things will fall into place,” she recalled. “Everyone will not always like you, but you will find a group of people that will love you for who you are, and then you will know that you are at home. I have finally found my work home at Harvard. And as I tell people all the time and say to so many of you, I love my job.”

Celebrating the Class of 2024!

View full coverage from the festivities of the 2024 Class Day and Commencement Ceremonies at Harvard Law School.