“Karen Bravo has demonstrated her outstanding leadership abilities in her role as vice dean and in previous administrative positions in the law school, at IUPUI and in national organizations. She brings the vision, energy and experience to build on the McKinney School’s strong reputation and to continue the school’s tradition of graduating students who build careers at the forefront of the legal profession, industry, the judiciary and other branches of government, especially in Indiana,” Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said.
“Dr. Bravo is a nationally and internationally recognized legal scholar whose academic work has focused on the structural causes of vulnerability to exploitation and ways of ensuring that underrepresented people have a voice.”
When Bravo assumes her new role July 1, she will be the 13th dean of the law school since its affiliation with IU in 1944. She will also be the first person of color and the second woman in the school’s history to lead the urban-based institution.
Bravo first joined the faculty of the McKinney School in 2004 as an assistant professor of law. Over the course of 16 years, she has served as associate dean for international affairs, associate dean for graduate studies and international affairs, and most recently as vice dean for the school.
Among other activities at the campus level, Bravo co-proposed and co-led the Next Generation 2.0 leadership program for women and underrepresented faculty and staff at IUPUI, and she continues to serve on its advisory board.
She received the IU Trustees award for excellence in teaching in 2008 and the IUPUI Office for Women Inspirational Woman Award in 2016.
A national search for the new dean of the McKinney School of Law began in the summer of 2019. Retired Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall T. Shepard and IU School of Social Work Dean Tamara Davis co-chaired the search committee, which represented a diverse array of stakeholders including faculty, staff, students, alumni, faculty governance and campus administration.
Bravo’s ideas to raise the law school’s national and global stature, extensive relationships across campus and the legal community, administrative leadership experience, and vision for the future of the law school and of legal education elevated her to the top of the candidate pool.
“Karen Bravo has distinguished herself for well over a decade on the McKinney faculty as both a leader and a scholar,” IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar said. “Her depth of knowledge will serve the school well as it evolves to meet the changing demands of legal education and scholarship, and her extensive connections with the local and global legal communities will allow McKinney to create new opportunities for engagement, research and training of the next generation of lawyers.”
An expert in the study of human trafficking, Bravo is the founder and leader of the Slavery Past, Present and Future Project, which organizes an annual interdisciplinary conference that brings together scholars, civic leaders, government actors and other interested parties for a multidisciplinary exploration of human trafficking and slavery.
Bravo has served and chaired various affinity groups within the legal community, including the Teaching International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law and the Association of American Law Schools’ Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Law Teachers and Students.
“I am honored by and excited for the opportunity to lead the McKinney School and to serve IUPUI in this way,” Bravo said. “I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students and alumni of the law school, the campus and university, and the broader Indianapolis legal community to chart the future direction of the McKinney School of Law.
“Central to the implementation of that shared vision will be the pursuit of high-impact legal scholarship and the education and transformation of the next generation of lawyers, policymakers, legislators and legal minds.”
Bravo earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She received her Master of Laws from the New York University School of Law and her Juris Doctor from the Columbia University School of Law.
The McKinney School of Law is one of two law schools within Indiana University. Located in downtown Indianapolis, McKinney Law has prepared students for legal careers for over a century. The school’s more than 12,000 graduates reside in every state in the nation and several foreign countries; constitute half of the practicing lawyers in Indiana; and serve as civic, business and judicial leaders.