Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. She writes and teaches in the fields of human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and political theory.
Glendon is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1991, the International Academy of Comparative Law, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which she served as President from 2004-2014. She is also a past president of the UNESCO-sponsored International Association of Legal Science. She served two terms as a member of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics (2001-2004), and has represented the Holy See at various conferences including the 1995 U.N. Women’s conference in Beijing where she headed the Vatican delegation.
Glendon has contributed to legal and social thought in several articles and books, and has lectured widely in this country and in Europe. Her widely translated books, bringing a comparative approach to a variety of subjects, include The Forum and the Tower (2011), a series of biographical essays exploring the relation between political philosophy and politics-in-action; Traditions in Turmoil (2006), a collection of essays on law, culture and human rights; A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2001), which the New York Times reviewer said should be the definitive study of the framing of the UDHR; A Nation Under Lawyers (1996), a portrait of turbulence in the legal profession, analyzing the implications of changes in legal culture for a democratic polity that entrusts crucial roles to legally trained men and women; Seedbeds of Virtue (co-edited with David Blankenhorn) (1995); Rights Talk (1991), a critique of the impoverishment of political discourse; The Transformation of Family Law (1989), winner of the legal academy’s highest honor, the Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award; Abortion and Divorce in Western Law (1987), winner of the Scribes Book Award for best writing on a legal subject; The New Family and the New Property (1981), and textbooks on comparative legal traditions.
Her prizes and honors include the National Humanities Medal, the Bradley Foundation Prize, and honorary doctorates from numerous universities including the Universities of Chicago and Louvain.
Glendon taught at Boston College Law School from 1968 to 1986, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and the Gregorian University in Rome.
She received her bachelor of arts, juris doctor, and master of comparative law degrees from the University of Chicago. During a post-graduate fellowship for the study of European law, she studied at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and was a legal intern with the European Economic Community. From 1963 to 1968, she practiced law with the Chicago firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt, and served as a volunteer civil rights attorney in Mississippi during “Freedom Summer” 1964.
A native of Berkshire County, she lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Ambassador Glendon was appointed to the Commission on May 23, 2012 by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and was reappointed to a second term in 2014.