Monica Monroe, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s first Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, has accepted a position as Dean of the Office of Community Engagement, Equity, and Belonging (CEEB) at Harvard Law School (HLS).
Monroe has played an integral role in the Law School’s Office of Equity & Inclusion (E&I) since its inception in 2019. During Monroe’s tenure and alongside Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Associate Dean for Equity & Justice and Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Officer, and Tobias Wolff, Jefferson B. Fordham Professor of Law and Deputy Dean for Equity & Inclusion, the Office has focused on establishing mechanisms to connect and collaborate with the many stakeholders in the Law School’s community, developing educational programs that examine substantive issues of equity and justice, as well as training programs focused on the skills needed to overcome bias and advance inclusion. The Office has also offered focused support to those historically underrepresented in the law and legal profession.
As Associate Dean of E&I, Monroe worked to cultivate several programs aimed toward building a safe and collegial environment for all law students. During her time in the position, she established the Office’s student advisory board, developed relationships and supported programs for Law School affinity groups, counseled student groups that sought guidance and training on issues of equity and inclusion, and organized collaborative networks across peer schools, the Law School, and the University.
“Monica has been an invaluable thought partner as we grew this office from the ground up,” said Rivera Finkelstein. “She intuitively understood the need to build community around our efforts and spearheaded a coalition of peers across our University and across our peer law schools. Her collaborative instincts will ensure an ongoing partnership even, or especially, as she embarks on her new role at Harvard. I am thrilled for Monica and excited about the chance to expand our collective DEI work well beyond the work of any one institution.”
Kalpana Kotagal L’05, Co-Chair of the E&I’s Alumni Advisory Board, echoed Rivera Finkelstein’s praise for Monroe’s outstanding contributions and dedication.
“I have loved working with Monica as we’ve built the Alumni Advisory Board on Equity and Inclusion,” said Kotagal. “Her commitment to supporting students from under-represented backgrounds and advancing the Law School’s commitment to meaningful equity, inclusivity, and accessibility is deep.”
Prior to her role in E&I, Monroe served as the Law School’s Dean of Students, where she prioritized caring for students’ mental health.
“Recognizing the importance and impact of good mental health in law school and every stage of life, I worked with Law School and University administrators to bring a CAPS embedded counselor to the Law School to create greater access to these services,” Monroe said. “I consider this one of my greatest accomplishments during my time as Dean of Students.”
Monroe’s commitment and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by the entire Law School community.
“Monica has been a vital part of the spirit and soul of the Law School since the day she arrived,” said Wolff. “Her singular capacity for intuition about people in a community, the maturity of her judgment, the care and empathy she brings to all she does; in a word, she is indispensable. Harvard is both wise and lucky to have stolen her away from us.”
Monroe will assume her new position at HLS on February 22.
“It is my sincere hope that the CEEB team and I will continue to support all members of the HLS community and together celebrate and embrace difference in a constructive and impactful way,” Monroe said. “The goal is for all of us to feel that we belong at HLS while affording one another grace and an equal opportunity to engage in the full vibrancy of the institution while embracing our authentic selves.”
On a personal note, Monroe, who earned her undergraduate degree from Boston University, is eager to return to New England.
“This period at Penn has been one of the most enlightening seasons of my life,” Monroe said. “While not without disappointment and discomfort, my time here has offered me my most significant growth and necessary knowledge for this next journey. It has been my honor to partner with, learn, and serve students at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School in this vital work. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
Monroe also holds a JD from George Washington Law. After clerking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, she spent six years with a private practice in Washington, D.C., practicing real estate, housing, employment, and commercial law. In 2004, Monroe returned to GW Law to teach Legal Research and Writing, ultimately also serving as the school’s Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Dean. Monroe joined the Law School in 2016 as Dean of Students, a position she held for three years until becoming the Associate Dean of E&I.
Following Monroe’s departure, Margaret Zhang L’15 will join E&I for the duration of the semester. Zhang will be instrumental in continuing the Office’s planned focus on capacity building through education and training, while spearheading projects designed to assess and address the evolving needs of our community as we continuously seek to advance equity and inclusion at the Law School and in the legal profession.