- A 1996 graduate, the civil rights attorney will play a number of ceremonial roles to help her class celebrate their 25th reunion.
The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has selected civil rights lawyer Anurima Bhargava to serve as this year’s chief marshal. Elected by her classmates, Bhargava will play a number of ceremonial roles to help her class celebrate their 25th reunion. “What an honor and gift to be chosen to reflect the magic and light that emanates from the mighty Class of 1996,” Bhargava told the Harvard Gazette. Describing her classmates as “lifelong companions who strengthen each other with spirit and wisdom,” she praised the Class of 2021, soon to join the alumni ranks.
Bhargava is currently the director and president of Anthem of Us, a strategic advisory firm that helps institutions and communities center equity and belonging in what they do. In that role, she advises foundations, media, and arts, and civil and human rights organizations to address harassment and discrimination and promote social justice and make policy and practice recommendations.
She previously served as the Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice under the Obama administration. She led the division’s efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for all students by enforcing federal statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, language status, religion and disability in schools and institutions of higher education. She has served on numerous task forces and working groups, including the White House Task Force to Prevent Campus Sexual Assault and the Supportive School Discipline Initiative.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice in 2010, Bhargava served as the director of the Education Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she was actively engaged in litigation and advocacy to expand educational access and opportunities for students of color. In December 2018, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed Bhargava to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, for a term ending on May 19, 2020.
She previously worked at the New York City Department of Education and clerked in the Southern District of New York. She earned her law degree from Columbia Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College. Prior to law school, she served as an investment banking analyst, assisted women elected to local government in India, and field directed a Congressional campaign.
She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a Truman National Security Fellow; produced and regularly consults on films; and has both chaired and served on numerous boards. She was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.