Salma Waheedi

June 20, 2023Salma Waheedi Named Inaugural Executive Director of the Program

Salma Waheedi, a lecturer on law and associate director of Harvard Law School's Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, has been named its executive director.

Salma Waheedi, a lecturer on law and associate director of Harvard Law School’s Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, has been named its executive director. In the new role, Waheedi will help lead the program and shape its next generation of research, education, and policy initiatives, expanding academic and professional opportunities for students and fostering new connections with stakeholders in the academic and policy communities. She will begin her new appointment in July 2023.

The Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World is a research program with a mission to support innovative and cutting-edge scholarship that addresses the complex relationships between law and society in Muslim majority and minority contexts. Through a robust visiting fellowship program, faculty research and teaching, and diverse on-campus programming, the Program fosters and encourages pioneering research with contemporary relevance and practical impact, covering a wide range of themes at the intersection of law, religion, and social justice. Its areas of focus include human rights, gender justice, family law reform, minority rights, criminal law reform, migration, environmental protection, and animal rights.

Kristen Stilt, professor of law, and the program’s faculty director said: “I am thrilled that Salma has accepted this new role. She has a unique set of skills and interests and moves seamlessly between theory and practice, between academic and advocate, and between Harvard Law School and legal institutions across the Middle East.  She is the perfect person to take the program to the next level of engagement with students, faculty, and advocates around the world. Her enthusiasm for her work is incredible while at the same time she deals with some very difficult topics. She is a masterful teacher and wonderful colleague, and we are so lucky to have her with us in this new role.”

“I am excited about this opportunity to develop and grow the program further to achieve its full reach and impact and look forward to working with Professor Stilt and our fellows and partners to advance new opportunities for student engagement and mentorship,” Waheedi said. “Recognizing the importance of incubating and empowering new generations of leading scholars and social justice advocates, we plan to expand the Program’s teaching and research offerings and open up new spaces for students to pursue collaborative research projects and to engage meaningfully in public policy debates.”

Waheedi’s research and legal practice focus on gender, social and economic justice, comparative constitutional law, Islamic law, and human rights, with extensive expertise in the Middle East and North Africa. She represented and advised individual and organizational clients seeking legal accountability and remedies for human rights violations in both domestic and international forums and has long been an advocate on behalf of multiple regional initiatives and coalitions for the advancement of legal equality for women and minorities. At Harvard Law School, Waheedi led collaborative policy research and advocacy projects to train and empower students to become effective international lawyers and advocates.

Prior to joining Harvard Law School, Waheedi practiced in the areas of corporate accountability litigation, regulatory compliance, and immigration and refugee law, including at Chicago’s United African Organization, Baker McKenzie, and the Transnational Development Clinic at Yale Law School. She held visiting fellowships at Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program and Harvard University’s Committee on Middle Eastern Studies. Between 2004-2012, she held senior positions at Bahrain’s Economic Development Board and Ministry of Finance, engaged in Middle East policy research and analysis at the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and served as a strategy consultant in the energy sector. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Government and International Law from Georgetown University, and a J.D. cum laude from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.