National Board Member Biographies
Debbie Adler '99
Helaine B. Allen
Helaine Berenson Allen was a Trustee of Children’s Hospital. She is presently a Trustee of the Beth Israel Hospital and an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She was a former co-chair of the Women’s Studies Board at Brandeis University and is presently a Fellow of the university. She is an informal leader of events in Palm Beach and Boston.
Ms. Allen received both her undergraduate degree as well as her master’s degree in business from Boston University. She also attended Simmons School of Social Work. She shares the Allen/Berenson Chair in Women’s and Gender Studies and Philosophy and recently endowed the Helaine and Alvin Allen Assistant Professor of Literature Chair in honor of her late husband Alvin.
Cindy S. Aron is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, specializing in the history of American women. She is the author of numerous publications, including, most recently, Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States. She is currently writing a book on the history of prostitution in the United States from 1945 to 1980.
Cynthia Berenson has been on the Palm Springs Jewish Federation Board Women’s Division for four years as Education Chair and chaired the Lion of Judah event in 1999. As a non Jewish woman she is interested in giving to the Jewish community which has been so welcoming to her. Cynthia and her family created the Allen/Berenson Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Women’s Studies. They also established the Director’s Office in the Women’s Studies Research Center. Cynthia and Theodore recently donated a Chair in Fine Arts to Brandeis University. Cynthia has a particular interest in issues of domestic violence. Cynthia also serves on the Palm Springs Film Festival and the Guide Dogs of the Desert Board.
Judy Borakove is a retail and product marketing consultant who served on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University from 1975 to 1976 and 1987 to 1993. She has served as President and Vice President of the Alumni Association and has been a Fellow since 1970. She is the founder of the New Jersey Alumni Chapter and a founding member of the Alumni Admissions Council.
Deborah First is an independent Communications Consultant and has an affiliation with Fleishman-Hillard/Boston. Before joining Fleishman, Ms. First was Executive Vice President of Kortenhaus Communications marketing and public relations firm where she was responsible for new business development, client services, strategic planning and account oversight. Prior to joining Kortenhaus, First served as New Projects Development Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council where she developed several community outreach initiatives. Before that, she was State Travel Director for the state of Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.
First is a former Co-chair and current member of Brandeis Women and Gender Studies Program’s national board. She is a Vice President of the Handel and Haydn Society Board, a Trustee of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, an Overseer of The Huntington Theater in Boston and serves on the Executive Council Steering Committee of the Women’s Cancers Program at Dana-Farber.
First has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in Education from Boston College.
Phoebe Giddon serves on three organizational boards, including Emerson College. She does volunteer work for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. She spends her happiest, most productive days at her second home in the Berkshires, where she is actively involved in the arts, particularly in Shakespeare and Company. Phoebe and her husband, Dr. Donald Giddon, created the Women and Health Initiative in the Women’s Studies Program.
Hinda Marcus graduated from Boston University with a BA degree and also is certified as a paralegal. In addition to her responsibilities as President and CEO of Arnold Industries, Inc., a Canton, MA based distributorship specializing in the management and distribution of electromechanical components and fasteners, she serves on the Executive Board of Futures For Children, a non-profit organization aiding in the education of Native American children, is a Trustee of Hebrew Senior Life, and is involved in several other humanitarian and cultural organizations. Other interests include art, music, theater, travel, and sports.
Barbara Perlmutter recently retired after 27 years as senior vice president of Public Affairs for Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., a global professional services firm. As its chief communications officer, Ms. Perlmutter was responsible for the development and management of Marsh & McLennan’s internal and external communications, media and public relations, marketing, advertising and corporate philanthropy.
She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and its Women and Foreign Policy advisory panel; a board member of The Jewish Museum and Brandeis International Business School. She is a vice chair of Women In Need, Inc. and also co-chairs the New York Leadership Circle of Women for Women International. She is a Fellow of Brandeis University, where she chaired its National Women and Gender Studies Program.
Ms. Perlmutter is a graduate of Smith College and received an M.A. from Columbia University in history and an M.B.A. with distinction in economics from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Odette Petersen '63
Letty Cottin Pogrebin has been a leading writer, editor, activist, and lecturer for more than three decades with a special interest in women's issues, family politics, and Jewish ethics. She is a founding editor of Ms. Magazine and the author of nine books, most recently a novel, “Three Daughters,” and a memoir, “Getting Over Getting Older.” Pogrebin has contributed essays to dozens of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Moment, and Tikkun. Listed in Who's Who in America, she holds many honors including an Emmy Award for her work on "Free to Be, You and Me," and a Poynter Fellowship from Yale University. She is currently president of The Authors Registry and serves on the Directors Council of the Harvard Divinity School Women in Religion Program, and on the governing board of the Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication. She is also a past chair of Americans for Peace Now, and a past president of The Authors Guild.
Renee Rapaporte is a family therapist and educator with a diverse academic and professional background. Her expertise is in couples therapy, parenting, and family preservation. Renee designed, developed and hosted a weekly radio program on sexuality and was Director of counseling and Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood in West Palm Beach.
She served as a court-appointed special advocate in the Foster Care Review Unit of the Boston Juvenile Court. She is a Guardian Ad Litem in the Cambridge Family Court and the Probate Court for Suffolk County. She taught group behavioral issues at Boston University Graduate School of Education and Boston University Business School. She facilitated group therapy sessions that focused on human interactions and organizational behavior. She now conducts groups for families under the auspices of Parents Helping Parents.
She has been a docent at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach and a docent for a visual thinking strategy program for school children at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Renee was a literary tutor as well as a therapist at the Lucy Stone School.
Renee is a graduate of Connecticut College and received an MA in adult education at Boston University and became a licensed family therapist.
She was a Board Member of Planned Parenthood in Palm Beach County, an overseer at the Peabody Essex Museum, a Board Member of Brown University Hillel House, a Board Member of Combined Jewish Philanthropy, a board member of Parents Helping Parents. She is also a Board Member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Brandeis University.
At Brandeis Renee has been instrumental in establishing the Internship Program in the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children. She also endowed a graduate fellowship in women’s and gender studies, the Rapaporte Internship Grant, Renee Rapaporte Dissertation Year Fellowship, Rapaporte Seminars and Brandeis at BOLLI.
Eli graduated from Harvard University in 1948 magna cum laude and phi beta kappa. He has written and published six books including “At the Dawn of Tyranny: The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression and the State” and “Freud, Women and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil.” He taught as a visiting professor in sociology and women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981 to1986. He then moved to New School University in New York from 1986 to 1993 and later to Brandeis University to teach in the same disciplines from 1993 to 1998. During that time he was a charter member of the women’s studies board. Eli’s proudest life moment: 1972 listed twice on Richard Nixon’s enemies list.
Rachel Sagan has dedicated her career to public interest law and non-profit management. She currently works as the Executive Director for the United Way of Acton-Boxborough and has recently worked as the Director of Development for a regional land trust managing the annual fund as well as capital campaigns for land purchases and endowment. She currently Co-Chairs the Board of the Women 's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 1985 and Harvard University, magna cum laude, in 1979. Rachel served as a law clerk to the Honorable Frederick Brown of Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Superior Court of Massachusetts.
She served on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern University School of Law Alumni Association from 1995-1998 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Day School.
Susan Winokur operates a cooking school which donates all of its net proceeds to charity. She conceives the program, arranges for guest chefs, and develops all of the recipes for the classes she teaches. Susan chairs the Nominations Committee of the National Board of Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis.