Board of Advisors
Dr. Ellen Kornmehl is a retired radiation oncologist, parent to two teenage children, Lia and Jake, and pediatric and adult cancer survivor. After graduating from Yale College ’84 with concentrations in Immunology and Literature, she obtained an MD from Yale School of Medicine ’88 and subsequently completed a residency through the Joint Center at Harvard Medical School and an American Cancer Society Clinical Fellowship in Immunology at the DFCI ’93.
Through her career, she served as an Attending physician in the in BWH/DFCI/Outreach programs, the MGH Department of Radiation Medicine, the MGH Gillette Center for Breast Diseases and Chief of Radiation Oncology Consultative Services at Newton Wellesley Hospital with interests in breast disease, lymphoma and radioimmunotherapy. She has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of IDEC Pharmaceuticals, as a founding advisor to the New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the Board of the Susan G. Komen New England Affiliate, and as a health advocate for Silent Spring, a national environmental toxicology and public policy organization focused on women’s cancers and endocrine disruptors. After taking medical leave in 2006 and welcoming her second child, Ellen elected to parent full time. She currently serves as a second term member of The Winsor School Corp. She and her husband, Dr. Ernest Kornmehl, are active members of the Jewish community in Boston and Newton and have been honored by Mayyim Hayyim for their support.
Their family enjoys exploring the world, sailing and boating, learning about food sources, and drawing.
Talia Carner is the author of several award-winning novels, including "The Third Daughter" (HarperCollins, 2019) which was named a finalist by the Jewish Book Council in the Book Club category and led to the launch of her public-service anti-sex-trafficking campaign. Her novel, "Hotel Moscow," (HarperCollins, 2015) won a USA Book News award. "Jerusalem Maiden," (HarperCollins, 2011,) won the Forward National Literature Award in the “historical fiction” category, and "China Doll," an Amazon bestseller, served as the platform for Ms. Carner’s presentation at the U.N. in 2007 about infanticide in China — the first in U.N. history.
Ms. Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine as well as 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 has addressed over 450 civic, educational and religious organizations in person and virtually. She is married to Ron Carner, former president of Maccabi USA. The couple has four grown children and reside in New York and Florida.
Leslie B. Gaffin has served as a lay leader of Jewish organizations for nearly 40 years. She is a member of the National Council of Hadassah and liaison to the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She is a past chair of the Hadassah Northeast Area Development Center and served as the first Northeast Liaison for Keepers of the Gate from 2000-02. A resident of Boston, Leslie is a member of the Board of JArts and serves as past chair and member of the executive committee of the Miriam Fund. Leslie received her BA from Wheaton College and 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.
Phyllis Hammer has been active in the Boston Jewish community for more than 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 PhD 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.
Dr. Tobe Levin von Gleichen is a collegiate professor emerita with the University of Maryland University College in Europe, an adjunct at the University of Frankfurt, and an associate (since 2006) of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She earned her PhD in comparative literature from Cornell University and a maitrîse from the Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle (Paris III) for her thesis on “Images of Women in Rousseau and Diderot.” Dr. Levin has conducted extensive research and publication on women in the Holocaust. She has also held visiting research positions at Mt. Holyoke College, Brandeis and Cornell universities in the United States and China Women’s University in Beijing, China.
Since 2009, Dr. Levin has been teaching summers at Northwestern Polytechnical University (Xi Gong Da), Department of Aeronautical Engineering, in Xi’an, China, and has lectured in Beijing on gender in African and African American literature as well as in her specialty, female genital mutilation (FGM). The topic first seized her attention in 1977 when the German feminist magazine EMMA introduced the term “Clitoridectomy.” Since then, Dr. Levin has combined scholarship with activism and is recognized in Germany as one of the movement’s pioneers. In regular consultation with African activists, in 1998 she co-founded FORWARD-Germany, e.V., a charity that aims to end the dangerous practice, and in 2009 launched UnCUT/VOICES Press to present to English-language readers key books on FGM that had appeared in French, German and other European languages.
A multi-lingual educator and activist, she also translates and publishes, having three edited volumes and more than a hundred articles and book chapters to date. She lectures widely and blogs.
Sylvia Markowicz Neil is lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School where she previously served as associate dean, and is appointed to the university councils for the Humanities, the Stevanovich Institute for the Creation of Knowledge and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. She is the founder and chair of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and is co-editor of its book series. 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. Sylvia received the Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.
Sylvia is widely involved in the civic, cultural and philanthropic community. She currently is chair of the board of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, vice chair of the Art Institute of Chicago and on the board of Brandeis University where she is chair of the Board of Fellows. She also serves on the boards of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Public Radio, and the Chicago High School for the Arts. She is life trustee (former chair) of the Grand Teton Music Festival and trustee emeritus of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sylvia received her AB with high distinction (history) from the University of Michigan, AM (Jewish studies) from the University of Chicago and JD cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law. She is married to Daniel R. Fischel and together they collect art, enjoy music and are proud of their wonderful growing family of children and grandchildren.
Dr. Ruth Nemzoff is the author of "Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family" (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2012) and "Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships With Your Adult Children" (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2008) and frequently speaks on family dynamics. She formerly taught at Bentley University, now is an affiliated scholar at Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center.
Dr. Nemzoff was Assistant Minority Leader of the New Hampshire Legislature and New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Health and Welfare. She holds a doctorate in social policy from Harvard University, an MA in counseling from Columbia University and BA from Barnard College, and her papers are archived at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library. As a visiting scholar at the Wellesley Center for Research of Women, she wrote an historical analysis of the "Changing Perceptions of Mother of Children with Disabilities." She has also published articles about environmental advertising and women in business and politics. She founded a nursery school, a counseling service and the National Women's Legislative Lobby. Currently, she is on the boards of 18Doors: Unlocking Jewish. and the Jewish Grandparents Network and the advice columnist for the American Israelite.
Suzanne Priebatsch has focused her career in investment management on helping people become more “financially literate” so they can manage their wealth during their lifetimes and pass on legacies that reflect their values. A graduate of Smith College, Priebatsch became an investment manager in 1986, helping educate clients on making choices that were in line with their priorities. She has lectured on financial empowerment of women and girls at many universities and professional organizations. Outside of her career in investment, she has served on the boards of the Children’s Museum of Boston, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Jewish Arts Collaborative, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Hadassah Medical Organization, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. She also served as a founding board member of the Jewish Women’s Archive. In 2006 she was honored by the Boston chapter of Hadassah as a Woman of Distinction. As of 2016 she serves as senior vice president of wealth management with Morgan Stanley.
Elaine Reuben, z"l, was a dedicated member of the HBI Board of Advisors for 18 years, and was most recently involved in the planning and funding of the catalog that accompanied Deeply Rooted: Faith in Reproductive Justice, Nov. 2, 2023 to Feb. 2, 2024, a 21-artist exhibition that looked at reproductive justice through the lens of faith and culture.
Her commitment to a high quality exhibition catalog that enhanced the art and presented readers with opportunities for activism was emblematic of Elaine’s long commitment to HBI and to causes both at Brandeis and all over the world that were important to her. On the HBI board, Elaine founded the Reuben/Rifkin Jewish Women Writers Series, a joint project of HBI and the Feminist Press, where she was also a board member for many years, and recently supported the HBI Spring 2016 Scholars-in-Residence Seminar on Jewish Women Writers in North America. A Brandeis graduate, she supported the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, made possible the University’s acquisition of the Lilith Magazine archive to anchor the Jewish Feminist Collection, and was an engaged supporter of Peacebuilding and the Arts programs of the Brandeis International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, where she was a board member. In 2016 she was elected to the Brandeis Board of Fellows.
Elaine received her PhD from Stanford University in English, American and Dramatic Literature, fields in which she taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A leader in the development of women’s studies and affirmative attention to women faculty and students, Elaine was a member, then co-chair, of the Modern Language Association Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, and was visiting associate professor and the first full-time faculty director of women’s studies at The George Washington Graduate School. While national coordinator of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) she 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. Subsequently, Elaine served as a special assistant to the deputy undersecretary for management at the U.S. Department of Education, conducted executive searches for colleges and universities, was acting executive director of the Network of East-West Women, and provided training, consulting, editorial and organizational assistance to academic and non-profit organizations. A past president of the Jewish Study Center in Washington, DC, and among the founding trustees of the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation of Greater Washington, she was a council member of Theater J at the Washington, DC JCC, a supporter of the Mosaic Theater Company of DC, and patron of the Timbrel Artist-in-Residence at the Summer Institute of the National Havurah Committee. She co-chaired the Middle East Peace and Democracy Circle of the Women Donors Network, and was a member of J Street’s President’s Council and Finance Committee and of the New Israel Fund’s DC Leadership and International Councils; she was a supporter of DC’s Jeremiah Fellowship, a program of Jews United for Justice, and of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.
Diane has held numerous leadership positions in the Jewish community on local, national and international levels. She is passionate about Jewish education. Diane was the first chair of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, whose mission is to develop fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research and artistic projects. A science educator by profession, she is extremely interested in the neuroscience of language acquisition in early childhood and the cutting edge research on the spiritual child. Diane was past chair of PEJE (partnership for Excellence in Jewish education) and JESNA (Jewish education service of North America.) Presently, in addition to HBI, she serves on the board of the Davidson School of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary; Hebrew Publics, a growing group of Hebrew charter schools in the U.S.; Shalom Learning, an online after-school program reaching students from 2nd to 7th grades in conjunction with synagogues as well as private mentoring; and the Washington Institute for Mid East Policy. She is a “friend” of the Israel Sci Tech schools. During the last twenty years, Diane has been involved in the renaissance of Jewish life throughout the world, especially in the FSU, where she often travelled with a group of family foundations from 1993-2006, renewing and restoring the seeds of Jewish life by giving grants to newly formed Jewish organizations. Diane and her husband Harold Grinspoon have traveled extensively around the world. She is a trustee of the Grinspoon Foundation and serves on the PJ Library book selection committee. She has received numerous awards and honorary degrees as well as published articles on intergenerational philanthropy. Between Diane and Harold they have six children and eleven grandchildren.