Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Heather Gerken Joins Mellon Foundation’s Board of Trustees

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced on June 5, 2018, that Heather Gerken, Dean of Yale Law School, has been elected to its Board of Trustees.

“Heather Gerken brings a stellar intellect, wide-ranging curiosity, empathetic collegiality, and a lifelong commitment to educational access and the liberal arts. We are delighted to welcome her to the Mellon board,” said Mellon Board of Trustees Chair Danielle Allen.

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. At Yale, she founded and leads a clinic in local government law, the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project (SFALP). In 2013, her proposal for creating the Democracy Index—a national ranking of election systems—was adopted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which became the nation’s first Election Performance Index.

“It is an extraordinary honor to join the Board of Trustees. The Mellon Foundation has played a legendary role in promoting diversity, the arts, the humanities, and other core aspects of higher education,” said Gerken. “The importance of the Foundation’s work has only grown in recent years. I can’t wait to get started.”

A native of Massachusetts, Gerken graduated from Princeton University, where she received her AB degree summa cum laude in 1991. A Darrow Scholar, she graduated from the University of Michigan Law School summa cum laude in 1994. Gerken has served as a trustee for Princeton University.

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

Gerken has published extensively. Her work has been featured in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review as well as 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 TimesThe New Yorker, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC News. She served as a senior advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012. 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 Senate three times. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.