When Sheree Carter-Galvan LAW ’93 joined Yale’s Office of the General Counsel in 2006 as a transactional lawyer, she did not know how well her previous experience in commercial practice would translate to the requirements of higher education. Twelve years of contractual disputes, major research agreements and new initiatives later, Carter-Galvan is leaving Yale in May to serve as senior vice president and general counsel of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
“I could not have imagined the experience would be so rewarding,” Carter-Galvan told the News. “But I am fortunate to be leaving one great institution for another great institution.”
In her new position, Carter-Galvan, whose work at Yale focuses primarily on the areas of digital media, information technology and intellectual property, will be at the helm of a world-renowned institution, which houses more than 34 million specimens and artifacts and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, as well as many permanent exhibition halls and special exhibition spaces. In addition, the museum facilitates research involving 200 full-time scientists and confers doctorate and master’s degrees through the Richard Gilder Graduate School.
Carter-Galvan’s colleagues in the Office of the General Counsel and members of the broader Yale community who have received her legal guidance praised her “formidable” negotiating skills and expertise. Linda Lorimer LAW ’77, a longtime Yale vice president who retired in 2016, called Carter-Galvan an “increasingly rare breed — a true counselor who helps an organization advance beyond attending to the legal issues.”
During her time in the Office of the General Counsel, Carter-Galvan served as one of the architects of Yale’s policy to make images of public domain materials within the University’s library and museum collections available for reproduction and use without restriction. She also helped guide Yale through its attempts to launch the first generation of online courses and degrees.
According to Lorimer, Carter-Gavlan artfully navigated a “labyrinth of international issues” when “bogus organizations” around the world tried to use Yale’s name for their upstart educational programs. Because of Carter-Galvan’s ability to “invoke moral authority,” she was able to convince many of the organizations to cease their efforts, avoiding outside legal fees in the process.
Before coming to Yale, Carter-Galvan represented theater companies in New York as a lawyer at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Victoria Nolan, managing director of the Yale Repertory Theatre, described Carter-Galvan’s deep understanding of nonprofit theater as an asset during her negotiations of complicated copyright agreements with playwrights and collaboration agreements between the Yale Rep and other professional theaters.
Beyond her capabilities as a lawyer, members of the Yale community interviewed described Carter-Galvan as someone who cares deeply about the University.
“Sheree is incredibly thoughtful about the quality of our community life together at Yale. Very quickly Sheree came to be someone whose perspective I learned from and whose insight I especially treasured,” said Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies professor Laura Wexler, who worked with Carter-Galvan on committees discussing online pedagogy and digital resources at Yale.
Former Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said that given the American Museum of Natural History’s status as a “one of the great cultural institutions and landmarks not only of New York but of the nation” and the range of activities it takes part in, the job of general counsel there is a “particularly exciting one.” She added that while Carter-Galvan will be missed at Yale, she is glad to see her advance in her career.
“The New York Museum of Natural History has a special place to play in our national communal life,” Wexler said. “My prediction is that Sheree will serve that institution brilliantly in all the ways that she has served ours.”
Adelaide Feibel | firstname.lastname@example.org