Life outside the box
It was the summer of 1981 and Maryam Elahi, a pre-med rising senior at Williams College,Â was doing exactly what she thought she would be doingÂ theÂ rest of her life. Then she had a life-changing experience. While working inÂ neuroresearch at Boston Children’s Hospital, Maryam happened upon a lecture by aÂ doctor who had just returned from Guatemala and Chile. He spoke about theÂ human rights atrocities he witnessed. Maryam walked out of the lecture hall and tilted her life compass in a new direction.
Maryam went to law school to get the tools she needed to do human rightsÂ work. After earning a joint degree from BC Law and The FletcherÂ School of Law and Diplomacy, Maryam went to work in international human rights. For 25 years, she was a human rights advocate, teacher, and grantmaker.Â Her employersÂ included Amnesty International and Trinity College, where she established the firstÂ undergraduate human rights program in the nation.
Recently, Maryam, who lives in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, shifted her life compass again, by applying her skills in a realm closer to home. In 2013, Maryam was selected toÂ become the president and CEO of Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, anÂ organization that makes grants to nonprofit organizations in Eastern Connecticut toÂ strengthen the 42 cities and towns that encompass about one-third ofÂ the state.
Maryam speaks very fondly of her days at BC Law and the connections she made there.Â â€œMy best friends in life are myÂ law school friends,â€ says Maryam. “When I look back at my experience in law school, I think of caring professors and wonderful friends. After all these years, I still reach out to my BC Law classmates when I need to discuss a perplexing legal issue or to celebrate a joyful moment.”
Maryam is the 2014 recipient of the Hon. David S. Nelson Public Interest Law Award.Â The honor recognizes BC Law alumni who have made significant contributions to the public sector or in public interest law.