On April 20, Harvard Law School honored two members of its community—Donna Harati ’15 and Laura Maslow-Armand ’92—with the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, established in 2001 to recognize commitment to public interest work.
The annual award, which is entirely student-run, honors one student and one graduate whose commitment to social justice “makes us proud to be members of the law school community,” said Colin Ross ’16, one of the students announcing the winners at the event. The award was established in memory of the late Gary Bellow ’60, a pioneering attorney specializing in public interest and poverty law, who founded and directed the HLS Clinical Programs.
Prior to law school, student award recipient Harati spent two years teaching at the Penitentiary of New Mexico and the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility and volunteered with the Solace Crisis Treatment Center, a center for victims of sexual abuse and other traumas. At HLS, Harati has served as a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where she worked on family, social security, unemployment, housing, and wage and hour cases, and on the boards of Project No One Leaves, a tenants’ rights organization, and the Harvard Mediation Program. She was also a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project, where she represented inmates in disciplinary hearings, as well as the Harvard Ferguson Action Committee and the Affinity Group Coalition.
One of the students who nominated Harati said in her nomination, “No aspect of [Donna’s] life, no human interaction, no problem that she faces is treated as routine. She brings radical empathy to bear every day on behalf of clients, the organizations she supports, and her peers.” Harati thanked her fellow classmates at the ceremony, including student finalists Seth Packrone ’15 and Greg Baltz ’15, for showing her the possibility of simultaneously wielding “a tough mind and a tender heart,” the title of a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that Harati said has resonated with her in law school.
After graduating, Harati, who spent her law school summers at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, the Restorative Justice Project at the National Council on Crime & Delinquency, and Homeboy Industries, will be clerking for a federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, and hopes to continue pursuing her commitment to reentry work and restorative justice.
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