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Carolina Avellaneda Named General Counsel

Carolina Avellaneda head shot
Carolina Avellaneda

Attorney Carolina Avellaneda will join Emerson as Vice President and General Counsel, beginning March 1.

“Carolina  is a talented legal strategist with deep experience in higher education here in Boston. I’m delighted for her to join our leadership team and help the College navigate our strategic opportunities and challenges in the legal arena and beyond,” said Emerson President Jay M. Bernhardt.

As General Counsel, Avellaneda will manage the College’s legal affairs and provide ongoing daily counsel and strategic advice to the President, the Board of Trustees, Vice Presidents, and senior administrators.  Reporting to the President, Avellaneda will be primarily responsible for setting the vision and leadership for the College’s legal strategy. She fills the role previously held by Meredith Ainbinder, who departed the College in 2022.

Avellaneda previously worked at the University of Massachusetts as its first Chief Strategy Officer and Strategic Counsel. In this position, she worked on key initiatives, most recently establishing UMass Global, the university’s affiliated non-profit online college in California. Following the affiliation with UMass Global, Carolina worked with UMass Global’s Board of Regents and Chancellor and served as corporate secretary to that board.  She also worked closely with the CEO of UMass Online to implement integration plans for partnerships, affiliations, and acquisitions to accelerate growth and change for UMass Global.

Before joining UMass, Avellaneda was General Counsel and Vice President of Operations at Fisher College in Boston. Prior to that, she was a longtime partner at McCarter & English in Boston, where she specialized in employment law and litigation and represented for-profit and not-for-profit entities, often acting as outside general counsel.

Avellaneda has been an active member of the Boston community for decades, holding leadership positions with various organizations. Currently, she is an independent director of MassHousing; a founder and former chair of the Advisory Board of My Life My Choice, a program of the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, which is dedicated to ending commercial sexual exploitation of children throughout the nation; and a founding member of the Latino Equity Fund at the Boston Foundation. Avellaneda has also served on the Governor’s Latino advisory commission for the current and previous administration. 

“I am honored to join Emerson College at this pivotal time in our society where higher education is facing many legal, regulatory, and existential challenges and to join an executive team committed to inclusive excellence,” Avellaneda said.

In a message to the community announcing Avellaneda’s appointment, Bernhardt thanked Kenneth Danton, Deputy General Counsel, for his “invaluable leadership and support to the College during a time of transition.” Danton will continue his work, reporting to Avellaneda.

Bernhardt also thanked General Counsel Search Committee members, led by Vice President for Administration & Finance Paul Dworkis, and supported by legal search firm Major, Lindsay, and Africa.

Avellaneda is a native Spanish speaker. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she emigrated to the United States during Argentina’s Dirty War. She received a Bachelor of Arts in political science and psychology from Wellesley College, and a JD from Boston University School of Law. She also completed the executive MBA for lawyers program from the Boston University School of Management.

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