The Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program (ALPP) at Harvard Law School has announced Nirva Kapasi Patel as its new executive director.

An attorney with a background in science, communications, and animal policy, Patel brings decades of experience inspiring positive change for animals as an animal rights campaigner, nonprofit board member, and executive producer of documentaries such as “Meat Me Halfway,” “The End of Medicine,” and “The Game Changers” — one of the most watched documentaries on Netflix. She has spent the past five years serving on the board of Farm Sanctuary, most recently as its chair. 

“I am overjoyed to join a team that boldly challenges and improves legal and policy decisions in order to further protect the billions of animals who suffer every single day,” said Patel. “I look forward to fostering collaborations and supporting a diverse group of minds who tackle a variety of projects, all of which will undoubtedly move the needle to help protect animals and our shared environment.”  

Prior to becoming executive director, Patel was a Global Policy Fellow with the ALPP focusing on live animal markets and animal legal education in India. She also provided critical research for Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic, where she also worked with students on projects and cases. She has been involved in the clinic’s ongoing lawsuit against the National Park Service over the dying Tule Elk population at Point Reyes National Seashore, and efforts to eliminate public funding for cruel and unnecessary animal experimentation.

“Nirva has the ideal set of skills needed to support all aspects of the program as we enter this new phase of rapid growth and major impact,” said Harvard Law Professor and ALPP’s Faculty Director Kristen Stilt. “We are a serious academic research program that also aims to make real differences in the lives of animals in the world today — a dual mission that requires an executive director with strengths in both areas. Nirva brings these strengths and so much more. Her work In India underscores her global reach, which will serve the Program very well because we are now more international in scope than ever before.”

Patel has served on the boards of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, the Fur Free Coalition, and the International Vegan Film Festival, in addition to Farm Sanctuary. 

A member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the United States Patent and Trademark Organization, Patel holds a J.D. from The New England School of Law, an M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University.

She grew up in Ashland, Massachusetts, and then worked in animal advocacy in Mumbai, India for close to a decade. Since returning to the U.S., Patel has led several successful animal advocacy campaigns, including banning the sale of fur in the towns of Lexington and her current home of Weston, MA.

She is a Jain American who practices the philosophy of ahimsa, which espouses nonviolence to all living creatures. 

“I truly believe there is no one more perfectly prepared than Nirva to join Professor Kristen Stilt in building the future of the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program,” said outgoing Executive Director Chris Green, who just became the new Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We are so incredibly fortunate that she is eager to bring her immense talents to the role and begin her next professional chapter at Harvard Law School.”