Alumni Spotlight: Daina Bray ’98 of Yale Law School answers seven questions about her career in animal law, activism, and frog dissections
Written by Flavia Nunez Ludeiro ’26 of the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
Catch up with Daina Bray ’98, a clinical lecturer in law with Yale Law School’s Law, Ethics & Animals Program, as she answers seven questions. Learn about her time as a scholar, career in animal law, and life in New Haven, Connecticut!
What’s your favorite memory as a scholar?
Derek Bevil ’97 convinced several of us scholars who had never done any acting before to try out for his production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Forest Theatre. I was cast as one of the leads, Helena, and it was so out of character for me but so memorable. Our last night was marked by a thunderstorm that came rolling in just as we finished the play.
Finish this sentence, “My day isn’t complete without . . . ”
My dogs! My husband and I have two rescued pit bulls from Tennessee and a street dog from Syria who was saved by an animal rescuer there during the war. I am obsessed with them (just ask my husband). The dogs in this picture are my parents’ dogs Da Shu and Xiao Shu, who were rescued from the meat trade in China.
Who is the most interesting person you met as a student at UNC–Chapel Hill?
When I started thinking about this, so many people came to mind. I met an incredible variety of people at UNC–Chapel Hill. I was a kid from upstate New York. At Carolina, I had adventures with other scholars and friends from Greece, Greenwich Village, Rocky Mount, South Africa, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, Brooklyn, Boone, Tijuana, Southern Pines, Sierra Leone, and on and on—it was such an amazing learning experience!
To pick one person, it would be Dr. Robert Daniels in the Department of Anthropology. I loved his classes, especially an independent study on systems theory that truly changed the way I see the interconnectedness of the world.
Tell us about a song you’ve recently enjoyed and why.
My work focuses on the climate crisis and the harms of industrial animal agriculture, which are massive and overwhelming problems. The song “Resilient” by Rising Appalachia lifts me up. It’s about moving forward, inner strength, and the power of working together.
What does an average weekday look like for you?
I get my dogs out and feed them, do some yoga, take some meetings from my home office, and then often head to Yale Law School for meetings with students or the class I’m co-teaching this semester: Climate, Animal, Food and Environmental Law and Policy Lab (CAFE Lab).
Do you keep in touch with fellow Morehead-Cain alumni?
I do keep in touch with a number of alumni. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed being in contact with Jamie Whittle ’97, an environmental lawyer in the north of Scotland. Jamie sometimes has students who are interested in animal law. We’ve connected over that, as well as our shared legal experiences and interest in environmental and animal protection.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my full-time career as a lawyer advocating for animals. My work is aligned with issues that I’ve been passionate about since I was a little kid. I have a deep sense of wonder and feeling of respect and responsibility toward animals.
During my Morehead-Cain finalist interview, I remember explaining to the panel how I had successfully opted out of dissecting a frog during high school. Afterwards, they asked, “What advice would you give a student who would like to do the same?” I said that I would tell them to do what I did: call the information hotline 1-800-922-FROG (which was really a thing back then and was very useful before the Internet).
The interviewers laughed in a friendly way, which I thought was a good sign! After all these years, I’m proud that I’ve stayed true to my commitment to activism for animals.
More about Daina
Daina Bray is a Climate Change and Animal Agriculture Senior Litigation Fellow and Project Manager with the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School, as well as a clinical lecturer and senior research scholar in law.
Daina has extensive animal law and litigation practice experience, and a sustained and pragmatic commitment to making a positive difference in the ways that we interact with non-human animals. She previously served as general counsel of the nonprofits Mercy for Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and practiced with major international law firms in the areas of litigation and international arbitration.
Daina is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates and a past chair of the ABA International Animal Law Committee, the ABA TIPS Animal Law Committee, and the Tennessee Bar Association Animal Law Section.
Daina received a JD from Stanford Law School, a BA in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, a Fulbright scholarship for research in environmental education, and the 2021 ABA Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award.
About the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
The Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team is an extracurricular program and internship run by the Foundation’s communications team. Scholars of all backgrounds and class years collaborate to produce multimedia content on the topics and issues they’re passionate about, as well as support Morehead-Cain’s institutional communications.
Members cover the following beats tied to Morehead-Cain’s departments: selections and recruitment, the scholar experience, development, and alumni engagement. Scholar-generated content is distributed across all of Morehead-Cain’s channels, including social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube), the Catalyze podcast, email newsletters, and the website (moreheadcain.org). The team’s audience comprises more than 3,300 scholars and alumni.
Current members of the team for the spring 2023 include Gowri Abhinanda ’26, William Dahl ’25, Kayla Engler ’26, Elias Guedira ’26, Aayas Joshi ’26, Flavia Nunez Ludeiro ’26, Laurelle Maubert ’25, Cate Miller ’25, Ria Patel ’25, Sri Pothanker ’26, Stella Smolowitz ’26, and Tucker Stillman ’25. The team is led by Content Manager Sarah O’Carroll of the Morehead-Cain Foundation.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Scholar Media Team, contact the communications team. Participation is a semester-long commitment.