Building Community in a Divided World
with Preeta Bansal
Sunday, March 4, 11:59am Worship at First-Plymouth
Preeta Bansal recently moved back to Lincoln after 35 years, where she originally grew up, attended Lincoln Public Schools K-12, and graduated from Lincoln East High School in 1982. She is currently a Lecturer at MIT and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School (and CEO of a non-profit, Social Emergence Corporation, that was incubated out of MIT). After a career working to strengthen the outer forms/structures of democracy as a constitutional lawyer, Preeta is currently focusing on the “inner work of democracy” – or the “habits of the heart” (termed by Alexis de Tocqueville) formed in the local venues of our lives that bring the constitutional structures to life. She has been trained and certified as a mindfulness teacher, and is also trained in various other forms of communication and community dialogue and circle processes.
After a meteoric career, Preeta is embarking on a journey which she describes as involving three major shifts: seeking change via small "ripples" rather than big "impact" (or bottom-up rather than top-down), through exploring inner worlds rather than outer worlds, and from the heart rather than the head. She worked in the White House during President Obama's first term (2009-2012) as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor. Prior to that, she was Solicitor General of the State of New York where she led 600 lawyers; a partner and head of the appellate/constitutional litigation practice at Skadden (a leading international law firm based in New York City); and Chair of the US Commission on international Religious Freedom, in which capacity she served as US diplomat advocating for human rights and religious freedom abroad, and advised on the drafting of the Afghan and Iraqi constitutions. She also was global general counsel for HSBC in London from 2012-2014.During 2015-2016, she was a committee chair of the U.S. President's Advisory Committee on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which focused on poverty and inequality in America. She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. After her elementary and secondary schooling in Lincoln, she graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court, before which she has also argued cases.