Catherine Pattanayak named assistant dean for public service

Catherine Pattanayak ’04

Credit: Lorin Granger Catherine Pattanayak ’04

Catherine Pattanayak ’04 has been appointed Harvard Law School’s assistant dean for public service and director of the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA). She was formerly OPIA’s interim assistant dean for public service.

“Catherine Pattanayak brings to her new role not only a strong commitment to our students and to public interest, but also wonderful experience in both public and private practice and long-standing connections to the HLS community,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “As an HLS alumna, educator, and longtime member of the OPIA team, Dean Pattanayak will bring deep insight to HLS’ efforts to support our students’ interest in public service. She will be a superb leader of our public interest advising office, and I am delighted that she has accepted this position.”

Pattanayak, who holds a B.S. magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, joined HLS as an assistant director of OPIA in 2009 after practicing law in both the public and private sectors. She took on increasing levels of responsibility over the years, serving as OPIA’s associate director, then director and more recently interim assistant dean for public service.

During her tenure at HLS, she has counseled more than a thousand students on how to incorporate public service into their careers; how to find internships, jobs, and fellowships that are a good fit for their personalities, skills, and desired impact on the world; and how to make choices in law school that will enable them to grow as students and practitioners.

She has also overseen the Wasserstein Fellows Program, which brings outstanding public interest attorneys to Harvard Law School to counsel students about public service work, and conceived of and led initiatives to update and improve OPIA’s programming, including augmenting e-advising resources, enhancing connections across class years in HLS’ Public Service Leaders program, and increasing the number of employers participating in the Public Interest Interview Program.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to continue to support HLS students in their pursuit of public interest opportunities and careers,” said Pattanayak.

After graduating from HLS in 2004, Pattanayak worked as a health care associate in the Boston office of Ropes & Gray. In 2006, she joined the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the General Counsel, in the National Institutes of Health branch. During her three-year tenure at the Department of Health and Human Services, Pattanayak served as the lead branch attorney for grants policy, compliance and enforcement issues and international legal issues, and received, among other performance awards, three NIH Director’s Awards, the highest award given by the NIH.

At Harvard Law School, Pattanayak received the Teaching & Advising Award from HLS Student Government in 2018, which recognizes both exemplary instruction and the ability of an instructor to inspire personal and intellectual development outside the classroom. In 2015, the graduating HLS Class selected Pattanayak to receive the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Appreciation Award for her “extraordinary support of public interest students and their careers.” And in 2014, she was a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence.

Earlier in her career, before enrolling at HLS, Pattanayak worked as a research analyst with the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute in Washington, D.C.