Shulamit Reinharz

Shulamit Reinharz was born in Amsterdam, grew up in New Jersey, received her B.A. from Barnard College and her Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She was on the psychology faculty of the University of Michigan for 10 years, and then returned to Brandeis as a professor of sociology.

In the 1990s  Reinharz directed the Women's Studies Program at Brandeis University. Among many other innovations, she created its multi-faceted graduate program, including the first graduate program in Jewish Women's Studies in the world. She also initiated the Student-Scholar Partnership Program and 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, which she heads to this day.

The holder of 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), the highly praised "American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise", "Observing the Observer: Understanding Our Selves in Field Research" and most recent titles "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. Shulamit Reinharz is the mother of two daughters and is married to Jehuda Reinharz, former president of Brandeis University.

Sylvia Barack Fishman

Sylvia Barack Fishman, Chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University, is the Joseph and Esther Foster Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life; and also co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Professor Fishman is the author of seven 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.  She is currently working on a book entitled Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of the Gender Revolution

Debby Olins
Program Manager

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. Debby 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.

Nancy Leonard
Institute Coordinator

Nancy Leonard, as Institute Coordinator, oversees all the administrative and logistical aspects of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute's programs and events.  Nancy 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).

Amy Sessler Powell
Director of Communications

Amy Sessler Powell has been writing for local and national news organizations for 25 years. She is the former associate editor of the Jewish Journal in Salem, Mass. and former publicity director for the Lappin Foundation. She was part of the inaugural team for the Boston Globe North section. She has also written publicity materials and web content for KIPP Academy, The Cohen Foundation camps, Aviv Centers for Living, Keith Lane Creative Group and others. She holds an M.S. from Boston University and a B.A. cum laude from Tufts University. Amy is the MOMents columnist for and her work has appeared in Parenting Magazine,,,,, Twins Magazine and others.

Bethany Wolfe Barnett
Communications Coordinator

Bethany Wolfe Barnett received her MSc in Design and Digital Media from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and her B.A. in English (Communications, Media and Cultural Studies) from Emmanuel College, Boston. Prior to joining HBI, she worked with the Publishing Bureau in Glasgow, Scotland, where she wrote, edited and designed materials for non-profits.

Melissa Grossman
National Director of HBI Conversations

Melissa Grossman is the national director of the HBI Conversations Program. She joined HBI in 2011 and is a graduate of Brandeis University where she received her B.A. in English Literature in 1991. She also received her M.S.W. from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. Prior to coming to HBI, she worked at UJA-Federation in New York, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 

Michelle Cove

Michelle Cove has been writing and editing for national magazines and websites for over 15 years, including as editor-in-chief of JVibe (the national magazine for Jewish teens), senior editor for Girls' Life, and senior editor of Mother Earth News. In 2006, she started a blog for Jewish Women's Archive called Jewesses with Attitude, geared to 20- and 30-something Jewish women. In 1999, Cove co-authored the national bestseller "I'm Not Mad, I Just Hate You!: A new understanding of mother-daughter conflict," published by Viking. Cove has freelance written articles for numerous publications including Family Fun, Psychology Today, Success and Body & Soul.

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe
Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University. She writes on issues of gender, multiculturalism and colonialism in Jewish family law and African customary law. Her publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions (with Sylvia Neil, Brandeis University Press, 2012). She holds law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard Law School, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand and Harvard Law School. She was a lecturer in law at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and a member of the Pan Commonwealth Expert Group on Gender and Human Rights. She is co-editor of the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Joanna Michlic
HBI Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust

Joanna Beata Michlic is the director of HBI Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. She received her doctorate and her master's degree in modern European and Jewish history from University of London, and her bachelor's degree in Slavonic studies at Lódz University, Poland. Between 2000 and 2003, she was a Lady Davis Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. Until December 2008 she was an associate professor of history and chair of the Holocaust and Ethical Values at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. She is an affiliated fellow at the Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies and the Center for Ukrainian Studies at Harvard University. Her major publications include "Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne" (2004; co-edited with Antony Polonsky) and "Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present" (hardback 2006, paperback edition 2008)(Polish and Hebrew translations in preparation). She is currently working on two monographs, "The Social History of Jewish Children in Poland: Survival and Identity, 1945-1949" and "Bringing the Dark to Light: The Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe," co-edited with John-Paul Himka.