Board of Directors


Barbra Streisand
Honorary Chair

Barbra Streisand is a film director, producer, writer, actress, singer and composer, as well as a leading spokesperson and fundraiser for social and political causes. Her production company, Barwood Films, has focused on creating television movies and documentaries that explore pressing social, historical and political issues. She established the Streisand Foundation in 1986, which since its inception has made grants totaling more than 11 million dollars to organizations that promote and support women’s rights, civil rights and race relations, environmental causes, youth-related issues focusing on the economically disadvantaged, and AIDS research. Brandeis University awarded Barbra Streisand an honorary doctorate in arts and humanities in 1995. She is a recipient of the National Medal for the Arts.

Phyllis Hammer
Current Chair
Appointed 1997

Phyllis Hammer has been active in the Boston Jewish community for close to 20 years. She served as president of Ma’ayan, Boston’s Torah Studies Initiative for Women, which she helped found. Hammer was a founder of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton and served as its vice president. She also has served on the boards of Maimonides School, Boston’s Bureau of Jewish Education and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Phyllis Hammer is also a founder of Edah, a national organization dedicated to strengthening Modern Orthodoxy. She earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and was a National Science Foundation Fellow at MIT, conducting research in immunochemistry. Until 1983, she was a member of the research staff of MIT, working in biochemistry and biophysics.

Rita Blitt 
Appointed 2002

Rita Blitt is a painter/sculptor/film maker who cares deeply about people and creating a more harmonious world. Her art, which has been seen in 10 countries, celebrates nature, music, dance and the spontaneous flow of movement captured in the drawn gesture.  Her 6 minute film, Caught in Paint, a collaboration with the Parsons Dance Company, has been invited to over 130 film festivals and received 16 awards. This film reveals how Rita creates.  A new DVD, Rita Blitt:  Visions of My World, 9 films of creative inspiration: drawing, painting, sculpture, music and dance, will be available in 2014. Rita Blitt:  A Passionate Gesture, Willoughby Design, RAM / Brandeis publications, was published in 2000.  A new book featuring over 40 of her monumental sculptures is being proposed. Rita’s current passion is gifting her works to spaces where they will inspire and bring joy to people.  To view Rita Blitt’s exhibitions, public sculptures, films and news go to the Rita Blitt Museum Without Walls, www.ritablitt.com.

Talia Carner
Appointed 2004

Talia Carner was the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine. A former adjunct professor at Long Island University School of Management and a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she was also a volunteer counselor and lecturer for the Small Business Administration and a member of United States Information Agency (USIA) missions to Russia. She participated at the 1995 International Women's Conference in Beijing, where she sat on economic panels and helped develop political campaigns for Indian and African women. Ms. Carner's first novel, PUPPET CHILD, was listed in “The Top 10 Favorite First Novels 2002” and launched a nationwide legislation (The Protective Parent Reform Act) that became the platform for two State Senatorial candidates. CHINA DOLL made Amazon’s bestsellers list and served as the platform for Ms. Carner's presentation at the U.N. in 2007 about infanticide in China—the first ever in U.N. history. Her latest published novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN, (HarperCollins, 2011,) won the Forward National Literature Award in the “historical fiction” category. In summer 2015, HarperCollins will release Carner's newest novel, HOTEL MOSCOW, which tells the riveting story of the daughter of Holocaust survivors who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism. Over 50 of Carner’s award-winning short stories, articles and personal essays have appeared in anthologies, literary magazines and leading websites. Ms. Carner is a board member of HBI, a research center for Jewish women's life and culture at Brandeis University. She is also an honorary board member of several anti-domestic violence and child abuse intervention organizations and sits on committees of organizations that work toward Israeli causes. She is married to Ron Carner, president of Maccabi USA. The couple has four grown children and reside in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, NY.  Talia Carner's addictions include chocolate, ballet, hats—and social justice.  Please check www.TaliaCarner.com

Debbie Finkel
Appointed 2014

Debbie Finkel is a lawyer and entrepreneur living in Newton, Massachusetts.  Debbie has been active in Jewish communal organizations for over 20 years.  She served as the President of Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore (Massachusetts).  Debbie serves on the board and is a founding board member  of Eim Chai, whose mission is to empower Jewish women across all streams of observance with Jewish Torah values and wisdom to ignite their homes with greater spirituality.  Debbie has a particular interest in helping Ethiopian Jews transition to their new lives in Israel.  She spent time in Gondar helping to prepare emigrates for their new lives in Israel.  She worked to establish curricula designed to help young immigrant children find common ground with their new Israeli schoolmates.  Debbie is currently establishing a U.S. and Israel based initiative to train Ethiopian immigrants to provide direct care services to Israel’s elderly, infirm and disabled. Debbie and her husband Robert lived in Israel for two years with their children Max, Hannah and Aliyah. 

Leslie Gaffin
Appointed 2007

Leslie B. Gaffin of Boston, Massachusetts, is a member of the National Board of Hadassah and Liaison to the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute where she also holds a Board position. She is the past Chair of the Hadassah Northeast Area Development Center and served as the first Northeast Liaison for Keepers of the Gate from 2000-2002. In Boston, Leslie is a member of the Board of the New Center for Arts and Culture and also serves on the executive committee of the Boston Jewish Community Women's Fund as co-chair. Born and educated in Worcester, Massachusetts, Leslie received her B.A. from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She earned a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Management from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Leslie and her husband, Michael, were founding members of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland where Leslie served on the Board of Directors from 1978-88. Leslie and Michael have three married children and seven grandchildren.

Susan Harris
Appointed 2012
Bio Forthcoming

Judit Liwerant
Appointed 2007
Bio Forthcoming

Sylvia Neil 
Appointed 2001

Sylvia Neil is the founder and chair of HBI's Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and co-editor of its book series. She is lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School where she previously served as associate dean. She began her career as a poverty law litigator, served as Midwest regional executive director and legal counsel of the American Jewish Congress and consulted with government and not for profits, establishing the Jewish Women’s Foundation for the Chicago Jewish Federation. She was appointed to both the Illinois and Cook County Commissions for Human Rights. She currently serves on several boards of trustees including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, vice chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art, vice chair of Columbia College Chicago and the visiting committee for the humanities at the University of Chicago. She also serves as president of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole.  She received her AB with high distinction from the University of Michigan, A.M. in Jewish studies from the University of Chicago and J.D. cum laud from Northwestern University School of Law. Sylvia is married to Dan Fischel with a wonderful growing family of children and grandchildren.

Suzanne Priebatsch 
Appointed 2002

Suzanne Priebatsch is a senior vice president of investments at Smith Barney, where she specializes in developing investment strategies for individual and institutional clients. She is a frequent speaker and has given seminars on the subject of "Wealth Management: Transferring Assets and Aspirations from Generation to Generation." She was a panelist at a national conference on the subject of "Girls, Women and Money: Financial Empowerment for the 21st Century" and has spoken on social investment issues for the Investment Management Institute in New York. Priebatsch is active in the Jewish community though Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Hebrew College and Hadassah. In May 2005, she was honored at the Hadassah "Women of Distinction" event in Boston and was profiled in a recent issue of "Transformations," produced by Combined Jewish Philanthropies. She is a trustee of the Boston Children's Museum and is on the board of the American Repertory Theater.

Elaine Reuben
Appointed 2006

Elaine Reuben received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in English, American and Dramatic Literature, areas in which she taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus. Furthering her academic and professional work in Women’s Studies, Elaine was a visiting associate professor and the first full-time faculty director of women’s studies at The George Washington University Graduate School. When she became national coordinator of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), she also taught in the American studies program at the University of Maryland, College Park, where NWSA was based, and directed the NWSA/FIPSE Project to Improve Service Learning in Women’s Studies. She has served as a special assistant to the deputy undersecretary for management at the U.S. Department of Education and on a host of academic, governmental and service boards. Additionally, she is a member of the board of The Feminist Press, and one of the founding trustees of the Tikkun Olam Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Washington.

Laura Schor
Served as Chair, 2008-2002  
Appointed 1997

Laura S. Schor, Professor of History at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, received her PhD in Modern European History at the University of Rochester in 1974. Her early work focused on the women silk workers of Lyon, culminating in a book, Women and the Making of the Working Class: Lyon , 1830-1870, published in 1979. This was followed, in 1983, by a study of gender role education in French primary schools, published as What Were Little Girls and Boys Made Of? In 1988, Schor published her first biography, The Odyssey of Flora Tristan, a French feminist-socialist of the first half of the 19th century. This was followed by a study of women’s struggle for political rights in 1848 and the political satire depicting that struggle culminating in an exhibit and catalogue of the cartoons of Edmund de Beaumont titled, Les Jolies femmes de Paris. In recent years, Dr. Schor has turned her attention to Jewish women’s history, publishing, The Life and Legacy of the Baroness Betty de Rothschild, in 2006, followed by her study of the Evelina de Rothschild School, The Best School in Jerusalem: Annie Landau’s School for Girls, 1900-1960, published in 2013.   Dr. Schor has presented her research at academic conferences in the United States, Europe, and Israel. In addition to research and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Dr. Schor has had a substantial career in academic administration. She was a pioneering Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where she initiated a Friends of Women’s Studies group, created a Scholar in Residence Program, and initiated a Women in Science series. She later was appointed Vice Provost for Academic Planning and supervised the distribution of significant investment in academic excellence funds. Dr. Schor served Hunter College as Provost for nine years, creating the Freshman Year program and hiring 100 new faculty members. During a brief hiatus from academe, Dr. Schor was the Executive Director of Hadassah, where she was instrumental in establishing the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Hadassah Foundation. Returning to university life, she was appointed Founding Dean of the Macaulay (then CUNY) Honors College, serving from its inception until the graduation of the first class in 2005.  Dr. Schor serves on three boards: the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Macaulay Honors College Foundation Board, and the Slim Peace Board.

Diane Troderman
Served as Chair, 1997-2002
Appointed 1997


Diane has held numerous leadership roles in the Jewish community, nationally and in Western Massachusetts, and has worked actively on women’s issues. She was the first chair of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Troderman is involved in the renaissance and renewal of Jewish life throughout the world, especially in the Former Soviet Union. She currently serves as chair of JESNA (Jewish Education Service of North America) and on the boards of the American Jewish World Service, the Jewish Funder’s Network, BBYO and Hebrew College. She and her husband Harold Grinspoon are partners in the PEJE collaborative (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education). From 1993-1998, Diane Troderman directed the Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and from 1989-1996 oversaw the six-year “I Have A Dream” project co-sponsored by the Grinspoon Foundation and Mass Mutual, enhancing the lives of disadvantaged children and providing them with an opportunity to graduate from high school and further their education. She and her husband travel extensively around the world as hikers. Between the two of them, they have six children and nine grandchildren. Ever a student, she is learning Hebrew and jazz piano.

Jane Zolot
Appointed 1999

Jane Zolot is a member of the national board of Hadassah and formerly a national vice president. She has chaired Hadassah committees for marketing/communication, strategic planning and children at risk. Zolot serves on the boards of trustees of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Har Zion Temple and Women's Division State of Israel Bonds. Formerly she was a  Vice President and Treasurer of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council.  She served on the National Commission on American Jewish Women, a cooperative study between Hadassah and the Cohen Center at Brandeis University that provided the impetus for the creation of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Zolot has served on the HBI Board since its founding. She and her late husband Stanley have three children and seven grandchildren.