Women’s History Month Spotlight Series: Kristine Offerdahl

March 20, 2024

As part of our Women’s History Month celebration, we’ve asked our colleagues to reflect on the significance of this month.

Cleary Gottlieb administrative and project assistant Kristine Offerdahl shares some of her thoughts below.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Cleary.

I started at Cleary seven years ago when I was in the process of reinventing myself. I had 25+ years in the advertising industry, and I wanted a change. I was at reception for two years, which I really enjoyed. I was able to familiarize myself with everyone in the office and get to know the ins and outs of the firm. That experience has been very valuable as my role has continued to change and develop. I now support two partners, the director of operations – Americas, and our pro bono attorney. My role is very diverse, and no two days are the same. I pride myself on the fact that I am the go-to person in the office when people have a question. When someone comes to me with a question, I usually know the answer. If I don’t, I know where I can find it.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is a time for me to reflect on the achievements and contributions that women have made throughout history. Female pioneers who have created opportunities and more equality for women today and for future generations. It’s important to celebrate Women’s History Month so we never forget the contributions of women who have come before us and to inspire and educate the next generation of women.

Has your identity impacted how you approach your work and career?

Yes! I am very much a people person and hardwired for customer service—it’s my love language. I interact with a lot of people across many departments daily. I truly enjoy it, and it energizes me.

Are there any women leaders, activists, writers/artists, professionals, or family members who have inspired you?

My mother has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, especially after I became a mom myself. She was raised on a farm in rural Minnesota complete with an outhouse and icebox. When she used to tell my sisters and me that she had to walk to school in a foot of snow and she wasn’t allowed to wear pants to school, she wasn’t exaggerating. After meeting and marrying my father, they left Minnesota, and she became a Navy wife. I know I didn’t understand how difficult moving all the time must have been—enrolling three kids in different schools, setting up a new home, losing whatever friends she had, and having to find a new job every two years or so. She always created a beautiful and loving home for us wherever we ended up. My mother is tough, loving, smart, tenacious, and nothing short of amazing. She continues to inspire me today.

When you’re underrepresented in your chosen field, why is it important to have mentors and sponsors who are invested in you and your career?

I supported a female chief at Cleary, and she really invested a lot of time mentoring me and helping me find opportunities for professional growth. She has since left the firm, but we still meet for dinner when we can, and she continues to remind me to advocate for myself. There are many people at Cleary who I consider to me mentors.

What are the benefits of joining groups that focus on women’s topics and issues?

I joined the PAN Women’s Working Group at Cleary a few years ago, and it has been a wonderful experience for me. I have met so many amazing women in our New York and Bay Area offices, and it has really enhanced my experience at Cleary. We all bring different backgrounds to the table, and I have learned so much about different women’s topic and issues from them. It’s also nice to have a network across different offices! You’d be surprised at how often I reach out to my New York and Bay Area colleagues with questions.

Are there any programs at Cleary that you have been part of that have contributed to your professional journey and feeling included at the firm?

I have been fortunate to been able to provide support for a global partners retreat, a global partner meeting, and some other meetings where I have been able to work with colleagues from around the world. It’s refreshing and invigorating to work with Cleary people from different offices. I feel like my circle of colleagues and friends has grown exponentially. I still keep in touch with many of them.

What is your favorite thing about working in the legal industry, and why did you choose to work at Cleary?

I truly enjoy working in the legal industry. I am surrounded by brilliant and interesting people daily who inspire me to grow and learn. Cleary provides so many opportunities for growth between all of the professional learning & development programs and DE&I events. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the people and the culture.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Cleary community?

Outside of Cleary I really enjoy being in the kitchen trying out new recipes. The District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area has so many amazing ethnic grocery stores. I could spend a good part of a day wandering around H Mart or Great Wall Supermarket checking everything out. My partner and I spend time exploring the DMV restaurant scene—so many amazing places to choose from. I also enjoy all different types of physical activities. Everything from Barré, bootcamps, walking, and riding my Peloton, to my latest adventure, which is anti-gravity yoga. I have an E-bike, and I enjoy riding all of the great trails that this area has to offer, some of which happen to have a great brewery or two adjacent to them. You can also find me enjoying a rainy afternoon reading a book with some candles burning and a cup of tea. I recently became an empty nester, so I look forward to having more time to pick up my French horn and watercolors again.