Leadership for Equity Amid Political Turbulence

Date: Tuesday, October 8th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST/11:00 – 12:00 pm CT/10:00 – 11:00 am MT/9:00 – 10:00 am PT

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Heather Gerken, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, Yale Law School


Heather K. Gerken is the Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law and is in her second term as Dean of Yale Law School. Dean Gerken is one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law and election law. A founder of the “nationalist school” of federalism, her work focuses on federalism, diversity, and dissent. She is the first female Dean in the School’s 200-year history.

As Dean, she has strengthened the School’s tradition of academic excellence, fortified support for the student body, and launched innovative new programming. Under Dean Gerken’s leadership, Yale Law School has expanded access to the legal profession, creating two pipeline-to-law school programs and bolstering the School’s enduring commitment to need-based aid. In 2022, Yale Law School launched the first full-tuition scholarships for law students with the highest need, beginning a growing trend in legal education. Through an innovative leadership program, Dean Gerken has worked to broaden the curriculum with wide-ranging courses and created abundant opportunities for professional development and mentorship. As part of the leadership program, Dean Gerken established a special initiative designed to foster discourse across the political and ideological spectrum and reinforce the core values of lawyering.

Hailed as an “intellectual guru” in The New York Times, Dean Gerken’s scholarship has been featured in The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, NPR, The New York Times, and Time. In 2017, Politico Magazine named Dean Gerken one of The Politico 50, a list of idea makers in American politics. Her work on election reform has affected policy at a national level.

In addition to her leadership of the Law School, Dean Gerken founded and runs the country’s most innovative clinic in local government law, the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project (SFALP). A champion for bridging the theory/practice divide, she is one of the few Deans in the country to run a clinic. Dean Gerken is also a renowned teacher who has won awards at both Yale and Harvard. She was named one of the nation’s “26 best law teachers” in a book published by Harvard University Press.

A native of Massachusetts, Dean Gerken graduated from Princeton University, where she received her A.B. degree summa cum laude in 1991. A Darrow Scholar, she graduated from the University of Michigan Law School summa cum laude in 1994. Dean Gerken currently serves as a trustee of Princeton University.

After law school, Dean Gerken clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court. She then served as an appellate lawyer in Washington, D.C., before joining the Harvard Law School faculty in 2000. Dean Gerken came to Yale in 2006 and became the inaugural J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law in 2008. She became Dean of Yale Law School on July 1, 2017.

Dean Gerken has published extensively. Her work has been featured in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, and numerous popular publications. Her work has been the subject of four symposia, and she has served as a commentator for a number of major media outlets, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC News. Prior to her time as Dean, Gerken served as a senior advisor to the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012. In 2013, her proposal for creating a “Democracy Index” — a national ranking of election systems — was adopted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which created the nation’s first Election Performance Index. She has been featured in the National Law Journal for balancing teaching and research, won a Green Bag award for legal writing, and has testified before the U.S. Senate three times. Dean Gerken is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a trustee of the Mellon Foundation.


Tamara F. Lawson, Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law


Tamara F. Lawson is the Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. Dean Lawson previously served in the roles of Dean, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, and Professor of Law, at St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami. She was the founding dean of the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice. Dean Lawson holds several leadership appointments in the legal community: Association of American Law Schools Deans’ Steering Committee, Law School Admissions Council Board of Trustee, Society of American Law Teachers’ Board of Governors, National Bar Association’s Board of Governors and Chair of the NBA’s Law Professors’ Division. Dean Lawson has previously served as the Chair of three different AALS Sections: Women-in-Legal Education, Evidence Law, and Law and Humanities. She currently serves as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee for LSAC’s Board, and the Chair of the Committee on the Regulation of Legal Education for SALT’s Board. Dean Lawson is regularly invited to speak on issues of criminal justice and race, educating student and practitioner audiences, both domestically and internationally.

Prior to joining the legal academy, Dean Lawson served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among other prosecutorial duties, she worked on the Special Victims Unit for Domestic Violence, as well as successfully argued multiple cases before the Nevada Supreme Court, including death penalty appeals.

As a faculty member, Dean Lawson was twice awarded Professor of the Year. As a scholar, her publications include a lead article in the American Journal of Criminal Law, entitled, Can Fingerprints Lie?, two co-authored casebooks, and an invited book chapter in CONTEMPORARY CONTROVERSIES: FORENSIC TECHNOLOGY. Dean Lawson’s research has appeared in prestigious law journals. Her article A Fresh Cut in an Old Wound – A Critical Analysis of the Trayvon Martin Killing: The Public Outcry, the Prosecutors’ Discretion, and The Stand Your Ground Law garnered Dean Lawson media appearances as a legal expert, and she was selected as the Reporter for the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws. Her timely research on excessive force cases is published in Powerless Against Police Brutality: A Felon’s Story and in Awakening the American Jury: Did the Killing of George Floyd Alter Juror Deliberations Forever?


Kellye Y. Testy, President and CEO, Law School Admission Council


Kellye Y. Testy is the president and chief executive officer of the Law School Admission Council, a global nonprofit organization that encourages diverse, talented individuals to study law and supports their enrollment and learning journeys from prelaw through practice. LSAC also develops and supports the technology products that enable schools and candidates to connect with one another in the admission process.

Prior to leading LSAC, Testy served as a law school dean and faculty member for 25 years, including as the first woman dean at the University of Washington School of Law (2009-17). During her tenure, she established the endowed Toni Rembe deanship, launched the Barer and Gregoire Fellows programs, and delivered the largest gift in the school’s history: a $56 million bequest from alumnus Jack McDonald for student scholarships and faculty and program support. Testy also served as dean at Seattle University School of Law (2004-09), where she founded the Access to Justice Institute, the Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and other key programs.

Always a teacher first, Testy continues to offer courses at several law schools in her areas of specialty, including business law and leadership development. Testy has been recognized numerous times as an innovator in education and technology and as one of the nation’s most influential leaders consistently advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education. She especially enjoys working with law school deans to support their leadership and help advance their school’s mission and goals.

An expert in corporate governance, Testy serves on several boards, both corporate and nonprofit, and conducts trainings for boards to help them meet their fiduciary duties and add value to the organizations they serve. Testy is a member of the American Law Institute and has served on the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers as well as on several committees and initiatives of the ABA Section on Legal Education. She currently serves on the boards of the Washington Law Institute, a leadership development program designed to promote diversity in the legal profession, and LSSSE, a research institute focused on understanding legal education from the student perspective. In 2016, she served as president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). She served on the AALS Executive Committee from 2013 to 2017, co-chaired the AALS Section for the Law School Dean, and served on the Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Law Teachers and Students.

Testy is a nationally sought-after speaker, panelist, and consultant on legal and higher education, leadership, diversity and access, and corporate law and governance. Recent 2021 speaking engagements include the LSAC Newcomers Workshop; ABA New Deans Virtual Workshop; the Rutgers Symposium on Race & The Law; and numerous conference and event panels on which she served as both moderator and featured speaker.

Testy is a first-generation college graduate who earned both her undergraduate degree in journalism and her law degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, her hometown. She graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington, where she was editor-in-chief of the Indiana Law Journal. After graduating, she clerked for Judge Jesse E. Eschbach, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.