Congratulations to Heather Williams (Hospitality Coordinator in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs) and Amy Soto (Administrative Director in the Criminal Justice Institute) on winning the Harvard Law School’s Dean’s Award for Excellence for their exceptional work and commitment to the law school’s mission.
Here’s what Dean Minow had to say about them:
“Heather is the Clinical Hospitality Coordinator for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, which is to say she is the face to the entire community. She serves the world in our justice vision at Harvard Law School. Heather is deeply committed. She has continually demonstrated her dedication to the work of the various clinics and the student practice organizations. She is the window to Harvard Law School. She is the face of Harvard Law School. She is the voice of Harvard Law School. The people who are in serious need, the Clinical community, and the Law School are better every day because of what she does.
Heather greets clients when they come for appointments. She makes sure they get to the right place at the right time. In each and every situation, she will do whatever it takes to make sure that the clients’ needs and expectations are met, and at the same time, alleviating the needs of those who seek guidance.
She’s very helpful to so many clients who call or who email or who walk in or who otherwise find some way to communicate looking for legal support services. And again, many of these people are people not in the best of circumstances. She’s very good at getting enough information about their problems, and then connecting them to one of the clinical programs or to other resources elsewhere in the community that may be able to assist them.
Over the years, she has learned a lot about what information is needed, about the resources that can be provided, about how to solve problems. One of her nominators said:
‘Heather is the woman that our clients—those we at HLS live and work to serve—see, speak to, get to know, trust and look for on a daily basis. She is the window and the face of the Harvard Law School clinical community. She is the epitome of the reliable, go-to person. She is the definition of a good citizen. And above all, Heather Williams enriches the law school each and every day that she unlocks the doors at 6 Everett Street- and the hearts of our clients.’
“Amy’s empathy, compassion and positive attitude, set the tone, when she is dealing with CJI clients and their families. Many clients shared with the nominating group, how much they appreciated the way Amy treated them: with both kindness and respect. Amy listens with empathy, will drop everything if something is urgent, and will go out of her way to find solutions to problems. Amy isn’t just a reliable member of the team, she goes the extra mile to ensure the success of every task.
The success of the Trial Advocacy Workshop (TAW) over the past 5 years are due in large part to Amy’s professionalism, efficiency and incredible people skills. Fall enrollment has increased to over 100 students, and winter enrollments to 144 with wait-lists of over 200 students. Amy ensures the TAW is a world-class program by keeping track of all 144 students’ schedules, coordinating teaching materials, and travel arrangements for 90 visiting attorneys and judges.
Amy’s dedication to students, both enrolled in the clinic and in TAW, is demonstrated by how well she manages the large number of students, while providing guidance and counsel. Every student is treated with dignity and respect. Amy genuinely enjoys helping students, and has an open door and a listening ear. Students are often found debriefing in Amy’s office after a long day in court, finding refuge in her humor.
This spring, Amy was awarded a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council at HGSE. As HLS, Amy was an active member of Harvard Law School’s Impact Initiative to increase the hiring, retention and promotion of administrative staff of color. Amy’s tireless efforts to promote diversity and inclusion earned her an invitation to present at the Latina Leadership in Higher Education: Princeton University’s Graduate Student Association’s Annual Voz Latina Symposium. Amy also distinguished herself as a model of innovations for HLS clinicians and staff when she collaborated with Prof. Dehlia Umunna to present a workshop for the entire clinical community: “Incorporating Inclusive Practices into our Clinics”. Helping shape conversations on inclusion and diversity requires taking risks, embracing new frames and self -reflection, which are all Amy’s strong suits.
And congratulations to our colleagues around the law school who also won the Dean’s Award for Excellence.