Portrait of Vanessa Laird
Executive Director
146 Humphrey School
Areas of Expertise
Collaborative governance; health care policy; health privacy law; international law and negotiation; integrative leadership


Vanessa Laird is the executive director of the Center for Integrative Leadership, a joint initiative with the Carlson School of Management and the Humphrey School. She is a member of the graduate faculty at the Humphrey School and of the affiliate faculty at University of Minnesota Law School, and has extensive experience ranging across private, public, and academic institutions.

Laird previously served as general counsel for Optum Inc. and is a former vice president and senior legal counsel for Medtronic, Inc, having led the legal team of the company’s largest division and served as senior counsel for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Prior to her work at Medtronic, Laird practiced U.S. and international law in the Legal Adviser’s Office at the U.S. Department of State, and served as an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. She engaged with other governments on diverse legal issues, including litigation against the Department and the drafting, implementation and interpretation of statutes, treaties, and regulations.

Laird was also on the Faculty of Laws at the University of Sheffield in England, teaching jurisprudence and legal systems, and clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Judge Stephen Trott.