International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

Stimell Named New Director of Ethics Center

Jan. 7, 2021

melissa stimell portraitMelissa Stimell

Melissa Stimell, who has served as interim director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life for the past two years, has been named the center's new director.

She succeeds Daniel Terris, who departed Brandeis in late 2018 to serve as dean of the Al-Quds Bard College of Liberal Arts.

“I am so honored to be able to continue to work on such important issues as civic engagement, peacebuilding, and international justice,” Stimell said. “I look forward to continuing to build on the work started by Dan Terris and my dedicated Ethics Center colleagues. This is a challenging time in the United States and around the world. Our work is at the heart of many of the important areas we need to address.”

John Shattuck, chair of the Ethics Center's International Advisory Board, said Stimell has been an excellent interim leader of the center and "richly deserves" her new appointment.

“Melissa has guided the center and its programs through a leadership transition with a steady hand and an imaginative touch during this time of great challenge to higher education and American democracy,” Shattuck said. “The center is flourishing under her leadership, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with her.”

Stimell will continue to serve as professor of the practice in the Legal Studies Program, chair of the Program in Social Justice and Social Policy and academic program director of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation. She currently teaches the courses Advocacy for Policy Change, Global Justice and Societies in Transition, and Conflict Analysis and Intervention.

Stimell has a long relationship with the Ethics Center. She served as academic director of the Brandeis Summer in the Hague Program, which was created in partnership with the Ethics Center's Programs in International Justice and Society.

Stimell has served as academic program director of ENACT, a national nonpartisan civic-engagement program for undergraduates at colleges and universities across the country, since its inception in 2016.

ENACT was founded with a generous gift from Norbert Weissberg, a member of the Ethics Center International Advisory Board, and his wife, former board member Judith Schneider. In 2019, the program was awarded a multiyear grant from the Teagle Foundation’s Education for American Civic Life initiative to support the further expansion of ENACT to all 50 states.


“Melissa’s appointment as center director is, at once, a richly deserved recognition and a simple affirmation of what has long been true,” said advisory board member Jay Kaufman ’68, MA’73, who serves as distinguished legislative mentor for ENACT.

“For the past decade, she has provided direction and momentum for Brandeis’ advocacy class and for ENACT, the center’s pioneering effort to bring democratic civic-engagement training and encouragement to students, universities and communities across the country,” Kaufman added. “As the Ethics Center’s interim director, she brought her creativity, drive and passion for ethics, justice and public life to all that she did and all of the center’s undertakings. The best news about losing the 'interim' from her title is that Brandeis, the center and all whose learning and lives we touch will be richer for it.”

Stimell is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a law degree from Boston University School of Law. She has been a public-interest attorney for more than 30 years, focusing on the representation of vulnerable populations in such areas as, criminal law, discrimination of individuals with disabilities, and child welfare.