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Our Staff

The Office of International Programs is dedicated to increasing understanding of international, foreign and comparative law across all areas of the academic and extracurricular program. Always moving forward, our office seeks to meet changing legal education needs through innovation or adaptation of our existing programs.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis
Associate Dean of International Programs

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Rangita de Silva de Alwis joined Penn Law school in February, 2025.  Before coming to Penn Law she  was the  inaugural director of the Wilson Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges until January 2015. Rangita is a women’s human rights scholar and practitioner with over 25 years of experience working globally in over 25 countries with a vast network of academic institutions, government, and nongovernment entities on women’s human rights law and policy making and institutional reform. She has convened several transnational networks including the Women’s Leadership Network in Muslim Communities, the Asia Cause Lawyer Network in India, and the Gender and Law Expert Group and the Women’s Watch in China. She has worked over 14 years with Chinese gender and law experts and academics and has testified twice before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on the status of women’s rights in China. She has advised UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP on state accountability under the relevant human rights treaties and the intersections of the different treaties and treaty bodies.

She has lectured at Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, Penn Law School and UCLA Law School. She has published widely with the World Bank, United Nations, and in various leading law journals including with Yale Journal of Law and Feminism; Texas Journal of Gender and the Law; University of Pennsylvania East Asia Law Journal; Duke Journal of Gender and the Law; UCLA Pacific Rim Journal; UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Relations. Most recently, she developed a Gender Supplement to the U.N. Secretary General’s Guidelines on Disability and a report to the World Bank on Women’s Voice and Agency.

Rangita has a Doctorate in Law (S.J.D.) from Harvard Law School and was a Teaching Fellow with the European Law Research Institute at Harvard Law School, a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and a  Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. She was a Fulbright Specialist with the Asian University of Women, a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Wellesley College, a Visiting Scholar at Wellesley Centers for Women, and an Honorary Professor of China Women’s University. She has received several awards for her work on women’s rights internationally.   

Lauren E. Owens
Assistant Director of International Programs

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Lauren Owens is the Assistant Director of International Programs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In her role, Lauren serves as the initial point of contact for most student advising, faculty collaboration, international event planning, and the hosting of international visitors.

Lauren has worked in the field of international higher education for more than ten years on several continents, developing expertise in the use of field-based research to analyze critical global legal issues. Prior to joining Penn, Lauren spent four years coordinating research-intensive foreign study programs for World Learning. She has previous experience in NGO settings, organizing citizen exchange programs; as well as university settings, facilitating bilateral student exchanges.

Lauren has a B.A. in Anthropology from Dickinson College; an M.Phil. in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict from Trinity College Dublin; a Graduate Certification in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute; and is currently completing her M.Phil. research at the University of Pennsylvania on Identity Politics in the Balkans.

Lauren’s personal and professional travels have brought her to over thirty-five countries.