Sheppie Abramowitz

Sheppie Abramowitz

Sheppie Glass Abramowitz has been at the forefront of refugee policy for nearly three decades. She spent 17 years with the International Rescue Committee, where she advocated for policy changes to protect displaced peoples and worked to obtain federal funding for humanitarian assistance. She served as Public Affairs Officer in the State Department’s Bureau for Refugee Affairs, where she worked to secure public and private funding for refugees and to respond to humanitarian emergencies. After many years in public service, she still continues her advocacy work today. She serves as a commissioner for the Women’s Refugee Commission and sits on the board of various nonprofit organizations, including Kids in Need of Defense, KIND.  She has been a tireless advocate and “has always tried to support the careers of every young person – male or female – that comes across her path.”

Abramowitz earned her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and M.A. from the University of Hawaii.

Nisha Agarwal ‘06

Nisha Agarwal

Nisha Agarwal is committed to social justice and inspires others “to keep their eye on the prize.” Agarwal was recently appointed Commissioner of New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. In addition, with the Center for Popular Democracy, she coordinates the Immigrants & Civil Rights policy support work and her work includes campaigns related to immigration enforcement and integration, community policing, health disparities and a range of other issues. She was previously the Director of the Health Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which she first joined as a Skadden Public Interest Fellow focusing on promoting racial justice and immigrant rights in health care advocacy. In collaboration with community-based organizations in New York City, Agarwal worked on legislative campaigns related to racial discrimination in hospitals, medical deportation, and the closure of community hospitals and clinics in medically under-served areas. She has also worked on legislation on language rights and was the primary drafter of the NYC Language Access in Pharmacies Act, the first law of its kind in the country. Nisha sits on the board of the Gotham Health Center and is a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. She also serves as the Executive Director of the newly created Immigrant Justice Corps.

Agawal is a graduate of Harvard College and Oxford University and earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Azizah Y. al-Hibri

Dr. Azizah al Hibri(1)

Professor Azizah al-Hibri is a Professor Emerita at Richmond Law School and served on the faculty until 2012. Her work has centered on developing an Islamic jurisprudence and body of Islamic law that are gender equitable and promote human rights and democratic governance. She has authored numerous book chapters, essays, and law review articles on these subjects, and her work has appeared in many highly respected journals.  Al-Hibri works with muslim women and men to advance human rights in a way that respects religious and cultural tradition.  In 2011, al-Hibri was appointed by President Obama to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She is the founding editor of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and founder and president of the organization KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

Al-Hibri earned her B.A. from American University of Beirut, J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran

Mayan Mhmoud Al-Zahran

In October 2013, Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran became the first female attorney licensed to practice law in Saudi Arabia and, very recently, she opened the country’s first female law firm. Prior to Al-Zahran’s licensing alongside three other Saudi women, female law graduates were only allowed to serve as legal consultants. Al-Zahran plans to focus her work on business and labor cases and women’s rights. Al-Zahran has not only broken a barrier and set an example for others but has expanded access to legal services for countless Saudi women as well. “Al-Zahran’s path must have been – indeed, must continue to be – an arduous one yet she has continued to break new ground in the field of women’s rights and human rights, more generally, inspiring us to do the same.”

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Louise Arbour

Louise Arbour

Justice Louise Arbour is an internationally renowned judge and lawyer. She previously  served as the Commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and as Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She garnered international renown for her role as Chief Prosecutor during the International Criminal Tribunals relating to war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. She was also responsible for the first prosecution of sexual assault as a crime against humanity. She now serves as President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, an anti-conflict non-governmental organization that researches conflict issues and engages in humanitarian advocacy. She holds honorary degrees from 40 universities and in 2008, she was the recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Prize. She has also been awarded a Woman Groundbreaker by the Open Society Institute, the French Legion of Honor, the Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Freedom from Fear Award, many awards for distinguished Canadian leadership, and was inducted to the International Hall of Fame at the International Women’s Forum.

Arbour earned her B.A. from the Collège Regina Assumpta in Montréal and LL.L. from the Université de Montréal.

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Judith Areen

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Professor Judy Areen is the Paul Regis Dean Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and previously was the president of the Association of American Law Schools. She served as Executive Vice President for Law Affairs of Georgetown University and Dean of the Law Center, and she was awarded “Dean of the Year” by Equal Justice Works in 2003. Areen has worked in the private sector and in government at both the local and federal levels, and she has written casebooks and numerous law review articles on higher education law and family law. Between 1977 and 1980, she served in the Office of Management and Budget as Director of the Legal Representation Project and worked to analyze the work of the more than 14,000 lawyers in the Executive Branch, leading to Executive Order 12146. Areen also served as General Counsel to President Carter’s Reorganization Project and as Special Counsel the White House Task Force on Regulatory Reform.

Areen earned her B.A. from Cornell and J.D. from Yale University.

Barbara R. Arnwine


Barbara Arnwine serves as the President & Executive Director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Arnwine has been a leader for decades in battles over school equity, voting rights, and many other issues of interest to women and disadvantaged communities. She has inspired many women and people of color to make changes in their communities and on the national stage. Arnwine is known for “not only inspiring a brilliant workplace, but also for being joyful, smart, and having an unrivaled passion for justice.”

Arnwine earned her B.A. from Scripps College in 1973 and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law.

Pat Bak

Pat Bak

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Patricia Bak is Deputy Executive Director at the Federal Trade Commission and has served as the Acting Director several times. She has worked in a number of positions at the agency, including as Acting CIO, Associate Executive Director, attorney with the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Enforcement Division, and Counsel to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.  Before rising to high administrative ranks in the FTC, Bak was a partner at a law firm and Managing Attorney and Corporate Secretary of the $2.3 billion Manville Personal Injury Class Action Settlement Trust and the Claims Resolution Management Corporation. As an attorney, she represented clients on complex commercial litigation and later managed professional liability litigation at the FDIC.  Bak has been “a strong mentor, guiding students through the law school application process and into their legal education and careers. She is a model for female law students to become strong women in whichever field they choose for their careers.”

Bak earned a B.A. and J.D. from Northwestern University.

*Audio clip recorded by Becky Wolozin
For a transcript of the audio file, please click here.

Navjeet K. Bal


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Navjeet Bal is a public and infrastructure finance attorney at Nixon Peabody LLP with over 20 years of experience in public finance. She was the second woman to be appointed Commissioner of Revenue for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She works with bond issuers, borrowers, and underwriters in tax-exempt bond financing on capital projects. Although her practice is based in Massachusetts, she also works on financings throughout the region and in Puerto Rico. She has demonstrated a strong commitment to pro bono work throughout her career. She founded Mitz Levin’s Domestic Violence Project, and serves as a board member at the Legal Advocacy and Resource Center in Boston. Bal inspires others because “she challenges ideas of what private practice at a big firm looks like. She is unapologetically passionate about the law as a tool for social change and is quick to support the professional and personal aspirations of those around her in any way she can. She is also always willing to mentor young lawyers, especially women, and her mentees have greatly benefited from her wisdom and example.”

Bal earned her B.A. from Williams College and J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.

*Audio recorded by Amanda Kool
For a transcript of the audio file, please click here.

Yas Banifatemi ‘97

Yas Banifatemi

Yas Banifatemi works as a partner for the law firm of Shearman & Sterling, specializing in the firm’s International Arbitration Group. She advises clients on public international law and international arbitration issues and has acted as counsel and arbitrator in cases under many of the international bodies and rules with a particular focus on investment protection, oil & gas and general commercial matters. She is known for her “sharp intellect and is an important person in the world of international arbitration.” Banifatemi is known for being a “star performer” in the legal world and has been named as one of the best young attorneys by American Lawyer and Global Arbitration Review.

Banifatemi earned her Ph.D. in International Law from Panthéon-Assas University and LL.M. from Harvard Law School.