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Olivia Warren ’11

Class of 2011, BFA in Dance

  • Olivia Warren '11

In 2014, Warren was accepted into Harvard Law School, and she graduated with honors in 2017. She has served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In October, Warren began her dream job as a Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, North Carolina.

As an undergraduate BFA Dance major, Olivia Warren ’11 wanted to use dance to expose societal injustice. With the encouragement of her first-year academic writing teacher, Jason Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, Warren was accepted to the prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship and spent the next three summers in formative internships working in nonprofit, government, and policy spaces.

Returning to campus after her first Watson summer, Warren pleaded with Rosemary Nossiff, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, to waive the prerequisites to her upper-level class, The American Presidency. “She let me take her class and then continued to teach me and support me in other upper-level coursework in political science,” says Warren. “I credit her more than anyone else on my journey: she opened the world to me.” Warren notes that Dr. Nossiff has been a present and trusted mentor for almost twelve years now.

After graduation, Warren stopped dancing completely and struggled in the post-college transition. “My whole family was in the arts, and quitting felt like a betrayal of who I was raised to be, and of all the time and energy so many teachers had invested in my training.” Warren completed a one-year public policy fellowship in Pittsburgh before returning to New York to work in indigent defense. She emphasizes that it took a lot of reading, thinking, reflection, and enormous kindness from professionals in different fields to focus her passions and strengths into a career. Ultimately, Warren realized that her interest in choreography—which is a way of regulating bodies in space—led her to become a fierce advocate for people who are in prison—what Warren describes as the most extreme regulation of bodies in space in this country.

In 2014, Warren was accepted into Harvard Law School, and she graduated with honors in 2017. She first served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In October, Warren began her dream job as a Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, North Carolina. She represents people facing the death penalty at trial, working on direct appeals in capital cases, and assisting people imprisoned on death row with the often decades-long process of post-conviction proceedings. “In sum, I advocate for poor people and against the violence of the government,” she says.

In her free time, Warren loves accompanying her paleontologist husband on field work and museum visits, and he in turn brings marshmallows for her to snack on while he cheers her on in court. A Peloton spinning enthusiast, she also enjoys a good long ride while belting at the top of her lungs—the jury’s out on how her neighbors feel about her singing, though.

This feature originally appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of MMC Magazine.

Class Year and Major

Class of 2011, BFA in Dance

Testimonial

In 2014, Warren was accepted into Harvard Law School, and she graduated with honors in 2017. She has served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In October, Warren began her dream job as a Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, North Carolina.

Dance