Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, S.J.D.

Shulamit Reinharz Director of HBI

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe was appointed the Shulamit Reinharz Director of HBI in January, 2018. Prior to that, she was serving as the interim director since July, 2017.  She joined HBI in 2007 to create the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law with founder and chair, Sylvia Neil.  In 2014, she co-founded the Boston Agunah Task Force Project and was appointed Associate Director of HBI in 2015. Dr.Joffe‘s publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions (with Sylvia Neil, (2012); The Polygamy Question (with Janet Bennion (2015); Women’s Rights and Religious Law (with Fareda Banda (2016) and a special issue of Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's and Gender Studies on New Historical and Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce, Volume 31, 2017). She is editor of the Brandeis University Press Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and associate editor the HBI Series on Jewish Women.  She sits on the editorial board of Nashim. She holds three law degrees; an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School and LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before coming to HBI, she taught in the the Faculty of Laws, University College London and was law clerk to Justice Frank Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada.  She was called to the bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In Spring 2018, Dr. Joffe will be teaching the seminar, Gender, Multiculturalism and the Law

Sylvia Barack Fishman, Ph.D. 


Sylvia Barack Fishman is the Joseph and Esther Foster Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life at Brandeis University and co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Professor Fishman is the author of eight books and numerous articles on the interplay of American and Jewish values, the impact of Jewish education, gender transformations, Jewish families and intermarriage, contemporary Jewish literature and film, and young American Jewish leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs and their attitudes toward Israel and Jewish peoplehood. Her most recent book is Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution. Professor Fishman received the Marshall Sklare Award from the Association of the Social Scientific Study of Jewry in 2014.

Debby Olins

Assistant Director for Administration

Debby Olins joined the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute in 2000.  She holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Olins oversees all the HBI's academic programs including: the HBI Research Awards, the Scholar-in-Residence Program, HBI Internship Program, the HBI Artist-in-Residence Program and the HBI Translation Competition.

Amy Sessler Powell

Assistant Director for Communications

Amy Sessler Powell has been writing for local and national news organizations for 30 years. Prior to working at HBI, Powell was associate editor of the Jewish Journal in Salem, Mass. and publicity director for the Lappin Foundation. Earlier in her career, she worked at several local newspapers and was part of the inaugural team for the Boston Globe North section. She is also a private college essay coach. Powell received a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.S. from Boston University. Her work has appeared in Parenting Magazine,,,,, Twins Magazine and others.

Nancy Leonard

Senior Departmental Administrator

Nancy Leonard, as program administrator, oversees all the administrative and logistical aspects of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute's programs and events.  Leonard received her B.A. in Literature and Writing from Columbia University.  Prior to HBI, she has worked at the University of Washington, Barnes and Noble (San Diego Regional Office), and Ticketmaster (New York Corporate Office).

Terri Brown Preuss

National Director of HBI Conversations 

Terri Brown Preuss is the national director of the HBI Conversations Program. She joined HBI in 2017 and is a graduate of Boston University where she received her B.A. in History with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Preuss comes to the HBI with a great deal of experience in program development and management as well as volunteer recruitment and engagement from her many years as an active volunteer and Board member at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, MA. She is trained as a lawyer and early in her career worked for the ACLU as an intake attorney focusing on civil rights and civil liberties.

Susan Metrican 

Rosalie and Jim Shane Curator and Director of the Arts

Susan Metrican oversees the arts program at HBI and the Women’s Studies Research Center through developing exhibitions for the Kniznick Gallery and creating educational programs to enhance exhibitions. Susan is a co-founder of kijidome, an experimental project space and collaborative based in Boston’s South End. Aside from curating exhibitions at the WSRC and kijidome, she maintains a studio practice, has exhibited her work nationally and throughout the Boston area and teaches at Brandeis and Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Lisa Batya Feld 

Communications Coordinator

Lisa Batya Feld is the Communications Coordinator for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, handling social media and promotion of events and projects. For the past 15 years, she has worked as a writer and editor for a wide range of academic institutions and scholarly presses, including the Jewish Women’s Archive, Oxford University Press, the Colorado Review, and the Rabbinical Assembly. She earned a B.A. in medieval history from Bard College and an M.F.A in creative writing from Colorado State University. Her writing has appeared most recently in Prairie Schooner, The MacGuffin, Hawai’i Review, and on

Abby Rosenberg 


Abby serves as librarian to the WSRC\HBI scholars, staff and students. She received a B.A. from Alfred University; a M.A. in American history from the University of Delaware; and a Master of Library Science from Simmons School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College. 

Shulamit Reinharz, Ph.D., retired

Founding Director

Shulamit Reinharz received her B.A. from Barnard College and her Ph.D. from Brandeis University. In the 1990s, Reinharz directed the Women's Studies Program at Brandeis University and she created the first graduate program in Jewish Women's Studies in the world. She also initiated the course on the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children, and created the National Board for Women's Studies. Reinharz chaired Hadassah's National Commission on American Jewish Women in 1993. Subsequently, in 1997, she established the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.  Formerly the Jacob Potofsky Chair of Sociology, Reinharz is the author or co-author of 10 books including: "The JGirls' Guide" (a finalist for the Koret Prize),  "American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise""Observing the Observer: Understanding Our Selves in Field Research""Today I am a Woman: Stories of Bat Mitzvah around the World" (edited with Barbara Vinick, Indiana University Press) and "One Hundred Years of Kibbutz Life: A Century of Crises and Reinvention" (edited with Michal Palgi, Transaction Books), among others.