Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, has announced that Marcia Sells will join the school as the new Dean of Students on September 21.

Sells is coming to HLS from Columbia University, where she previously served as Dean of Students at the Law School, and currently serves as both Associate Dean for Outreach & Education in the School of the Arts and Associate Vice President for Program Development and Initiatives in the Office of Government and Community Affairs.

“After a national search, attracting immensely talented candidates, Marcia stood out because of her deep and diverse experiences in higher education, in law, in community relations, and in building capacity for individuals and organizations and her demonstrated vision and accomplishments,” Minow said. “She is warm and wise; she will be an invaluable resource for our students and our entire community. I very much look forward to her leadership here.”

Sells received her J.D. from Columbia, and her BA from Barnard. Prior to returning to Columbia in 2002, she held a variety of high-level positions in academia, the private sector and public service, including: Vice President for Employee and Organizational Development at Reuters America; Vice President for Organizational Development & Human Resources and Vice President for Player Education and Development at the National Basketball Association; and Assistant District Attorney for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

“It is an amazing opportunity to work with Dean Minow and Harvard Law School faculty and administrators as Dean of Students,” Sells said. “This position offers a chance to connect with future members of the legal profession at the beginning of their journey, and that is engaging and meaningful work at an institution that has always been at the heart of shaping legal education. I am honored to be a part of the Harvard community.”

Before her legal and academic career, she trained as a ballet dancer in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. She was a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Company until Arthur Mitchell persuaded her to move to New York and eventually become part of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Sells is a member of the New York Bar and a retired member of the Connecticut Bar. She has been a Member of the New York State Governor’s Task Force on Rape and Child Abuse and a Member of the Mayor’s Judicial Advisory Committee. She received the “Woman of Power and Influence” Award from the National Organization of Women, and Black Star Magazine honored her as a community leader. She has also authored an essay in the book Public Nature of Private Violence and a book on legal rights of domestic violence victims with Judith Avner, then-Commissioner of the Women’s Rights Division under Governor Mario Cuomo, titled Women Know Your Rights.

Sells has also served on the boards of Community Impact of Columbia University, Manhattan Legal Services, YWCA of New York, the National Association of Black Artists, Community Works of New York, Coalition for the Homeless, and Sugar Hill Museum for Art & Storytelling.