Faculty and Staff
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is the Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University where she teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She is also director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law that explores the tension between women’s equality claims and religious laws. Her research focuses on gender and multiculturalism in family law and on the intersection between secular and religious law. She is the author of “Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions,” (2012); “The Polygamy Question,” (2015); “Women’s Rights and Religious Law,” (2016) and was guest editor of a special issue of “Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues on New Historical and Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce,” (Volume 31, 2017). She is a co-founder of the Boston Agunah Task Force, devoted to research, education and advocacy for women under Jewish family law. She holds three law degrees; an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School and LLM and SJD from Harvard Law School. Before coming to HBI, she taught in the the Faculty of Laws, University College London and was law clerk to Justice Frank Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada. She was called to the bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
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. Olins oversees all 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.
Amy Sessler Powell has been writing for local and national news organizations for 30 years. Prior to working at HBI, Powell was associate editor of the Jewish Journal in Salem, Mass. and publicity director for the Lappin Foundation. Earlier in her career, she worked at several local newspapers and was part of the inaugural team for the Boston Globe North section. She is also a private college essay coach. Powell received a BA from Tufts University and an MS from Boston University. Her work has appeared in Parenting Magazine, Patch.com, RandomHousekids.com, Interfaithfamily.com, Lamaze.com, Twins Magazine and others.
Nancy Leonard, as Senior Departmental Administrator, oversees all the administrative and logistical aspects of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s programs and events. Leonard received her MS in Project and Program Management from Brandeis University and a BA 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).
Terri Brown Preuss is the national director of the HBI Conversations Program. She joined HBI in 2017 and is a graduate of Boston University where she received her BA in History with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also received her JD from Northeastern University School of Law. Preuss comes to the HBI with a great deal of experience in program development and management as well as volunteer recruitment and engagement from her many years as an active volunteer and Board member at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, MA. She is trained as a lawyer and early in her career worked for the ACLU as an intake attorney focusing on civil rights and civil liberties.
Susan Metrican oversees the arts program at HBI and the Women’s Studies Research Center through developing exhibitions for the Kniznick Gallery and creating educational programs to enhance exhibitions. Susan is a co-founder of kijidome, an experimental project space and collaborative based in Boston’s South End. Aside from curating exhibitions at the WSRC and kijidome, she maintains a studio practice, has exhibited her work nationally and throughout the Boston area and teaches at Brandeis and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Ali Senal is the Communications Coordinator for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, handling social media and promotion of events and projects. She is a 2018 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Muhlenberg College who majored in Theatre (concentration: Acting) and Jewish Studies. While at Muhlenberg, she was editor-in-chief of Her Campus and she served on Muhlenberg Hillel’s board as Head of Israel Affairs. Senal was also a 2018 HBI Gilda Slifka Summer Intern who worked with Brandeis Prof. Laura Jockusch on her memoir about Stella Goldschlag and did her own research creating a photo story and website about Orthodox synagogues and the placement of the mechitza.
Dalia Wassner, PhD is the Director of the Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University. She writes on feminist cultural responses to violence in a trans-Atlantic frame, collective memory and memory politics, and cultural connections between Jews and other minorities involved in Latin American processes of national democratization. Dalia Wassner holds a PhD in history from Northeastern University, an MPhil in Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, and MAs in history and Latin American studies from Stanford University. Dalia Wassner, PhD has been an active participant at the HBI since 2012 as a Scholar-in-Residence, Research Associate, and Gilda Slifka Internship Program mentor. Since 2015 Dalia Wassner has taught Latin American Jewish history at Brandeis in the Near Eastern & Judaic Studies Department and Latin American & Latino Studies Program. She has also developed courses in Women’s studies, Latin American studies, and Jewish studies, most recently at Emerson College, Boston University, and Brandeis University.
Abby serves as librarian to the WSRC/HBI scholars, staff and students. She received a BA from Alfred University; a MA in American history from the University of Delaware; and a Master of Library Science from Simmons School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College.