Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends
All Brandeisian Stories
Brandeisians are remarkable.
They’re making a difference in the worlds of science, literature, arts and entertainment, public policy and various other fields — and they’re doing so in service to others, boosting a culture of generosity at the same time that they are repairing the world. Here are a some of their stories. Read them and get inspired.
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How a chance book recommendation triggered a guilty reminder of an interaction that Mike Leiderman ’66 had with a Brandeis benefactor half a century ago.
Adam Smoler ’01 reflects on his time at Brandeis, his preference for Chicago and how he ended up becoming one of Google's youngest managers
The executive and former Brandeis trustee joined the Brandeis Women’s Network to offer insights from her experience working with brands, companies and social-impact organizations.
Disney’s chief legal officer, Alan Braverman '69, describes how his Brandeis experience helped shape his professional path.
For Brian Ackerman ’81, sharing independent films and the rich experiences they offer is a calling.
Sixteen years after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 took her husband’s life, Ariele Cohen ’99 says the friendships they made through Brandeis have helped keep his memory alive.
One of the game’s top players says “The Queen’s Gambit” makes the right moves in portraying the chess world.
For Ayan Sanyal ’14, a cup of homemade chai is a warm reminder of home and family. Unable to find any authentic blends in New York, he and his brother decided to show America what makes an authentic chai drink so much better.
Impacted by a volunteer experience in Kenya, Elana Reinholtz ’11 left a career in finance to launch Bird + Stone, a mission-driven company that sells cause-conscious jewelry.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production of goods across the country and textile mills shifted to making masks and personal protective equipment, Stephanie (Fodor) MacDonald ’04 stepped in to help.
Eric J. Harvey, MA’11, PHD’20, writes losing his vision has led him to imagine entirely new ways of living, learning and moving through the world.
Teacher David Nurenberg ’99 writes on learning to think and talk about structural injustice.
Reflecting on their personal encounters with injustice, Brandeisians express outrage, fear and hope for a better future.
Political scientist Sandy Lakoff ’53, a member of Brandeis’ second graduating class, says he established a charitable gift annuity to help the university flourish.
Food — and uniting people around food — became a calling Meryl Feinstein ’12 couldn't ignore.
Recipient of Gwen Goldstein Freishtat Endowed Scholarship says Brandeis has ‘guaranteed his potential to succeed,’ despite learning-disability challenge
Recipient of the Max and Sadie Friedman Endowed Scholarship, aspiring physician, says grandparents in India could not have dreamed of opportunities offered her by Brandeis
The recipient of the Mindy Schneider ’75 Endowed Scholarship researches the experiences of front-line hospital staffers during COVID-19 wave.
Hollywood film and media executive Labid Aziz ’99 helps young filmmakers become the best versions of themselves.
Actor/singer John-Andrew Morrison ’95 has found his sweet spot in theater and film.
The best-selling author recalls his favorite professor, his favorite hangout and his idea of perfect happiness as a Brandeis undergraduate.
Music-industry luminary Jon Landau, political activist Angela Davis and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman are among prominent Brandeisians whose senior thesis holds hints of future renown.
Vu Truong ’86, P’20, CEO and chief scientific officer at Aridis Pharmaceuticals, is expert at solving tough scientific problems.
Edith Suárez, Heller MBA/MPP’19, a community advocate with the Waltham Partnership for Youth, describes herself as passionate about identity, culture and diversity. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa, she worked with women and youth in a small village of 2,000 people as a community economic development volunteer.
Jose Pérez ’75 is a principal at Butler Perez Associates, a consulting firm specializing in real estate development, government relations and strategic planning. The former assistant secretary of economic affairs in Massachusetts, he has more than 35 years of experience in the private, government and nonprofit sectors, focusing on community revitalization, economic development, issues related to Hispanics, employment and education.
Laura Limonic ’97 is an associate professor of sociology at the College of Old Westbury of the State University of New York. Her research focuses on contemporary immigration to the United States. Her own Jewish family immigrated to the United States from Argentina.
An immigration attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, Aileen (Walborsky) Josephs ’86 has been recognized for her defense of immigrants’ civil and human rights, and in particular for her work with neglected Guatemalan and Haitian children.
The research of scientist Drew Weissman ’81, MA ’81, P’15, is the basis for several vaccines being developed to fight the pandemic.
Robin Brooks ’57 reflects on his ongoing commitment and service to Brandeis.
Brandeis parent Sharon Himeno of Honolulu, Hawaii, shares why she's proud to have two daughters carrying on the Brandeis tradition.
Tracy Choi, Heller MPP’13, is a housing and community development supervisor in San Mateo County, where she and her colleagues are working to make sure the most vulnerable residents get the aid they need.
Stephen J. Cloobeck ’83 says his Brandeis studies in neuroscience and psychology helped lead to his remarkable business achievements. Now the former CEO and chairman of Diamond Resorts International is donating $1 million that will aid Brandeisians’ efforts to shed light on human intelligence.
David Wish ’90, P’21, founder of Little Kids Rock, gives children the power to express themselves through music.
Brandeis parent, book lover and dedicated volunteer chosen to serve as new president of the Brandeis National Committee starting July 1.
Virus expert warns another pandemic will happen unless commitment made to prevent it.
Executive editor Jenny Bak ’97 wants all young readers to see themselves in the books they love.
Liz Attardo Greenberger ’74, founding director of RowLA, uses rowing to encourage inner-city girls to set — and reach — challenging goals.
Marvin Kabakoff ’68 has been involved with the gay rights movement since the early 1970s. He reflects on his experiences living through and documenting LGBTQ history.
Renee Chapman-Best ’81 reflects on the current protests for racial justice, her experience as an advocate for homeless youth, and whether the concept of “repairing the world” came into her calling.
Aliya Bean ’16 reflects on her experiences working on policy issues in the U.S. House of Representatives, the state of LGBTQ rights movement and her time at Brandeis.
Alexis “Lexi” Matza ’98 is a feminist medical anthropologist and the deputy director of the LGBT Health Program for the Veterans Health Administration. She reflects on her experiences working with LGBT veterans.
Alesdair H. Ittelson ’08 reflects on confronting injustice as part of a stated mission to “protect underserved youth who expand common conceptions of sex, gender and ability.”
"Brandeis has been a great place to provide a lot of lessons and resources that I will treasure in my future."
"The Ting Tsung and Wei-Fong Chao Endowed Scholarship, along with other financial aid I have received, is a testament to the generosity of members of the Brandeis community."
"I cannot imagine a life without the people Brandeis gave me. Wherever they are, that’s where home is to me."
"When it came down to my decision, Brandeis felt like home, and the scholarship I received made the option realistic for me."
Irma Zamarripa ’21 is among more than 700 Brandeis students who received financial assistance from Brandeis to help pay for rent, travel, storage and other needs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Ishan Kaanan, MS'16, conducted his first year of residency in Aleppo during the Syrian civil war and is now an internal medicine resident at Boston Medical Center, where he’s on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Every challenge is an opportunity,’ says Carol Lue, MBA’03, who honed her entrepreneurial instincts at Brandeis.
Jeff Civins ’67, senior counsel at Haynes and Boone, has been practicing environmental law since 1975. He reflects on environmental law and other topics.
Carly Greenberg ’11, MA’12, joined the Hershey Company in 2019 and oversees the chocolate-maker’s environmental sustainability strategy as well as it’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. She reflects on her career path in sustainability.
Mark Seth Lender ’71, MA’74, is a producer and explorer-in-residence for Living on Earth, Public Radio's environmental news magazine. His wildlife fieldwork, spanning seven continents over a quarter of a century, inspires his monthly broadcasts.
Deana Becker, MA’04, is director of stakeholder operations for Preserve, a Waltham-based company that uses recycled materials to make eco-friendly household products that, in the company’s words, are good for both people and the planet.
Raquel Kallas ’15 is a research viticulturist with Villa Maria, a winery in New Zealand known for its sustainable practices. She reflects on sustainability practices in the wine industry and her most formative experience at Brandeis.
Mariah Rayfield Beck ’16 reflects on the connection between wildlife health and human disease, also the topic of her recent article on Medium.
Jane Corson-Lassiter ’76 is a district conservationist in Virginia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. She was recently named Conservationist of the Year by the Virginia Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Oluwatomi Oluwasanmi ’14, who teaches an undergraduate course in epidemiology as an adjunct faculty member in public health at Hunter College in New York City, was recruited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work as an analyst for the CDC’s Quarantine Program in response to the COVID-19 epidemic in New York.
Dr. Julia Blanter ’13 shares her perspective as a medical resident taking care of COVID-19 patients at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Dr. Hannah Zeltzer ’12 is a second-year obstetrics/gynecology resident at a hospital in Queens, where she treats a vulnerable patient population, some of whom have COVID-19.
Dr. Cheryl Schreiber Lewison ’85, associate director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queens Hospital Center in New York City, has been immersed in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Eugene Vortsman ’08 is treating COVID-19 patients as an emergency medicine attending physician working for Northwell Health Systems primarily at Long Island Jewish, a large teaching hospital in East Queens, New York.
Dr. Alex Blutinger ’10 shares his perspective on the coronavirus crisis as a veterinary small animal emergency and critical care specialist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in New York City.
Shen Tong ’91 was a leader of the student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Now the social activist, entrepreneur and managing partner of FoodFutureCo is spearheading a grassroots COVID-19 relief effort to get masks and protective equipment to New York City hospitals.
Dr. Erik Blutinger ’09 has been treating COVID-19 patients as an emergency medicine physician at Mount Sinai Queens. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the battle against COVID-19 through his video diary.
Barbara Dortch-Okara ’71, a former Massachusetts Superior Court judge, reflects on the significance of a recent Brandeis Travelers tour to America’s Deep South that explored the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement.
Bozhanka Vitanova, MA’16, created an algorithm to help businesses build better teams and boost their workers’ entrepreneurial “muscle.”
Dr. Janice Johnson Dias ’94 is founder and president of GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a national public-health and social-action organization that supports and develops community-driven solutions to the health challenges facing women and girls living in poverty.
Herman Hemingway ’53, the first black man to graduate from Brandeis, had a dream to further the cause of social justice, to fight racial prejudice and to advocate for the poor.
R Remi Matthews, a Posse Scholar at Brandeis who double-majored in computer science and African and African American Studies, says his one-letter first name stems from his father’s family’s tradition of giving all first-born males a name starting with “R.”
Malika Imhotep grew up in a family of community organizer-artisans—her father a puppeteer and writer, her mother a doll maker and social worker—in a West Atlanta community she calls an “Afrocentric bubble.” A Posse Scholar at Brandeis, Imhotep is now a PhD candidate in African American Studies at UC Berkeley.
Judge Edward Redd ’71, who received his law degree from Boston College in 1974, served as executive secretary of the Boston NAACP during the desegregation of Boston’s schools in the mid-1970s and was a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Presidents Ford and Carter.
Dr. Lucretia Jones ’77 directs the surveillance unit which investigates communicable diseases as well as emerging disease outbreaks for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She is also a founder of the grassroots community group Mothers on the Move and a board member of the Bronx Community Research Review Board.
Renowned classical music composer Henri Lazarof, MFA’59, didn’t want notes and measures to live only on paper.
Former hurdler Chen Yahav-Levanon ’06 has raced her way to three successful startups and a spot on the Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 Under 40 list.
Jill Maderer ’96, Eli Freedman ’02 and Michael Hauptman ’73 steer the course at Philadelphia’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom, the oldest Ashkenazic synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.
A national infertility alliance honors real estate lawyer Risa Levine ’83 with an award named for her.
Candace Browning ’77, head of global research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, turns reams of news and numbers into international economic forecasts that make sense.
For five days in 1955, Allen Secher '56 drove former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt around the Boston area in his 1949 Chevy.
Fontes spent his summer working with teens in Cuba as part of a collective that promotes Afro-Cuban history.
TV titan Marta Kauffman ’78 changed the industry when we co-created the sitcom "Friends," and now she's done it again with the popular Netflix show "Grace and Frankie." Read about her Brandeis experience.
Bonded by the shared experience of the campus unrest of the 1960s, the Class of 1969 wanted their 50th Reunion class gift to support social justice efforts.
By writing about her son Max, Ellen Seidman ’89 is helping an ever-expanding audience see “the ability in disability.”
Chris Karp ’78 crisscrosses the globe looking for new vaccines, improved drugs and other innovative strategies that can save lives.
Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16, the new president of the Brandeis Alumni Association, shares his favorite Brandeis moments and hopes for the future.
For graduating senior Robin Donohoe ’19, Brandeis came with a very tangible connection to home: her dad, Leonard, P’19, works here as a staff plumber.
Norm Winer ’69 elevated rock radio to an art form.
Celine Hacobian ’14 ensures ABC News' social-media posts are journalism, not hype.
The former Wien recipient from Tbilisi, Georgia, took some time to talk with the Alumni Association about the impact the program, why he gives back to his alma mater and his advice for fellow Brandeisians.
Early on a sunny morning, tourists are already crowding into New York City's Times Square. And, even at 11 a.m., a line is snaking along the sidewalk near Mr. Bing, a food stand in the middle of the pedestrian plaza.
The philanthropist, humanitarian and noted photographer delivered a talk at Brandeis to mark the publication of her new photobook, ”Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception."
Aichuck Tripura ’22 and his father, Prashanta ’86, are both recipients of the Wien International Scholarship, launched 60 years ago.
Jeremy Heyman '08, MS'08, has spent a decade proving the potential of immigrant students who are English language learners.
"I was pretty sure I wasn't going to survive." After beating a rare bone cancer and early stage leukemia, Sam Eisenstein Watson ’01, MBA’06, founded The Samfund, which for 15 years has helped relieve the financial burdens that young adult cancer survivors face after treatment.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Elsie Morales Ramos ’72 partners with Brandeis to help the people of Puerto Rico.
As the founder of HawaiiKidsCAN, David Miyashiro '08 is using the skills he developed at Brandeis to improve the quality and equity of public education in his home state.
Whether serving as a leader in the Brandeis National Committee or joining the Sachar Legacy Society by including the university in her estate plans, Dr. Susan Eisenberg Jay ’71 has been deeply committed to supporting Brandeis for decades.
When Matt Cohen '93 wrote an Edward Gorey-inspired comic strip for Mad Magazine depicting the realities of gun violence in schools, he never expected how much attention it would receive.
On each episode of The Parsnip Ship, Iyvon Edebiri ’13 – with help from Brandeis classmates Todd Kirkland ’13 and Jesse Manning ’13 – introduces diverse playwrights to new audiences by evoking the spirit of radio plays.
By taking advantage of her employer's matching program, Yoanna (Freedman) Rofeh ’11 doubles the impact of her giving to Brandeis while honoring her personal religious philosophy.