2021 Forty Under 40: Lauren Peña

Associate Director of Student Recruitment
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law 

Lauren Peña is responsible for recruiting and advising prospective law students as well as developing strategic communication plans and internal events for the McKinney School of Law. Her efforts are geared “in pursuit of building a more diverse legal community,” and she is part of NextGen Leadership Program, which is bringing disability into the diversity conversation. She has created programs designed to offer practical assistance to first-generation college students who might have little knowledge about what is involved with applying to law school, and she also arranges for interested students to take a free practice Law School Admission Test.

Getting here: Pena worked in customer service at Target during high school and participated in internships and student government throughout college. She transitioned to law school after undergrad and had opportunities in law firms and at the Attorney General’s Office. But her passion for higher education led her to work with then-Dean Andy Klein in what was supposed to be a temporary role.

First job: after-school babysittingProud moment: Using her legal skills and other skills to challenge herself. She has published journal articles, lectured in various classes, and advocated for continued accessibility and inclusion on campus for students, staff and faculty with disabilities.

Influential person: Her maternal grandfather, Wyman May. “He worked hard his whole life and lived in pain and was a role model to me on how to get up, get the work done and do it all with a smile on your face.”

Givebacks: AccessAbility Inc. board member; Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council board member; ArtSpeak co-founder

Downtime: spending time with friends and family; disability advocacy work; exploring new coffee shops; and embroidery •

Check out more Forty Under 40 honorees.

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