Melissa Stimell named Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life


January 7, 2021  

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University is excited to announce that Melissa Stimell has been named the new Director of the Ethics Center.

Stimell has served as interim director of the Center since 2018, following founding director Dan Terris' departure from Brandeis 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,” says Stimell. “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.”

“Melissa Stimell has been an excellent interim leader of the Center for the past two years and richly deserves her appointment as Director," said John Shattuck, Chair of the Ethics Center's International Advisory Board. “She 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. The Center is flourishing under her leadership and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with her.”

Stimell is Professor of the Practice in the Legal Studies Program at Brandeis University, Chair of the Program in Social Justice and Social Policy at Brandeis, and the Academic Program Director of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation. She currently teaches 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 since its inception. ENACT, The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation, is a national non-partisan civic engagement program for undergraduates which includes direct work with state legislatures and community organizations. It is based on Advocacy for Policy Change, a Brandeis course developed and taught by Stimell with support from the Ethics Center in 2009 and developed by Stimell into a broader national initiative.

In 2016 a generous gift from Ethics Center International Advisory Board member Norbert Weissberg and his wife, former Board member Judith Schneider, enabled the Ethics Center to launch ENACT, the national expansion of that initiative. In 2019, with Stimell’s leadership, ENACT was awarded a multi-year 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,” says Ethics Center International 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’s 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. 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 received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her law degree from Boston University School of Law. She has been a public interest attorney for over 30 years, focusing on the representation of vulnerable populations in such areas as, criminal law, discrimination of individuals with disabilities, and child welfare.

About the Center

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life develops effective responses to conflict and injustice by offering innovative approaches to coexistence, strengthening the work of international courts, and encouraging ethical practice in civic and professional life.