The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

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Susan Eaton

Susan Eaton

Dr. Susan Eaton is Director of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at the Heller School. At the Sillerman Center, Susan and her colleagues engage funders and their advisors, socially concerned scholars and non-profit practitioners to increase and enhance grantmaking to social justice causes. Susan is also Professor of the Practice at the Heller School and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Susan is an author, most recently, of Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees and America at Its Best (The New Press, 2016), about myriad efforts that welcome and incorporate immigrants into their new communities across the United States. She also is the author of the critically acclaimed, The Children In Room E4: American Education on Trial (Algonquin, 2007), which chronicles a landmark civil rights case and life in a classroom and neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut and The Other Boston Busing Story: What's Won and Lost Across the Boundary Line (Yale, 2001), a qualitative interview study of the adult lives of African Americans who had participated in a voluntary school desegregation effort in suburban Boston. She is co-author, with Gary Orfield, of Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v. Board of Education. (New Press, 1996).

Prior to her appointment at Heller in 2015, Susan was research director at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, Susan also founded and co-directed the storytelling project One Nation Indivisible, which amplifies the voices and work of people creating and sustaining racially, culturally and linguistically integrated schools and other social institutions. She has also been a frequent advisor, consultant and writer for national and regional foundations in the United States. For the first decade of her career, Susan was a newspaper reporter for dailies in Massachusetts and Connecticut where she covered public schools, city government and housing. 

Her writing has appeared in numerous scholarly and popular publications including the New York Times, the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, the Nation, Education Week, Education Next, Virginia Quarterly Review, Harvard Law & Policy Review, Race Poverty & The Environment and many others. 

Susan holds a doctorate in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Sheryl Seller

Sheryl Seller '11, MA '13
Program Administrator

Sheryl Seller is Sillerman’s Program Administrator, with responsibilities including coordination of the Generous U prize, management of Sillerman Center Fellowships, and coordination of Sillerman events and communications. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the Social Justice Funders Network, where she collaborates with other social justice funders to execute informative events and learnings particularly around racial justice funding. She has a strong background in marketing and communications, and is passionate about leveraging those skills to increase social justice philanthropy. Sheryl also holds a TEFL certificate, has worked as an adult ESOL instructor, and has been nationally recognized for her commitment to volunteerism. She holds an MA in Global Studies with a concentration in Immigration Patterns and Policy, and a BA in Global Studies and Hispanic Studies, both from Brandeis University.

Stephanie Hurley

Stephanie Hurley
Graduate Research Assistant

Stephanie Hurley is an MBA candidate with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Management at the Heller School. Before beginning her graduate program, she worked as a literacy teacher at the Academy of the Pacific Rim charter school and as an assessment specialist at Achievement Network in Boston. She holds a BA in English and Secondary Education from Boston College. At Heller, Stephanie serves as the Co-director of Net Impact, a group which looks beyond corporate/nonprofit divisions to identify how leaders of organizations can create positive social and environmental change. Stephanie's interests lie in understanding how K-12 education in the United States can be reimagined through targeted funding, private partnerships, public policy, and entrepreneurship.

Amber Abernathy

Amber Abernathy
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Amber Abernathy is a sophomore at Brandeis double majoring in International & Global Studies and African and Afro-American Studies with a French and Francophone minor. Amber previously interned with The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta as their 2015 Summer Fellow. She also worked with Girl Talk Inc., which is an Atlanta based non-profit organization that helps high school girls mentor middle school girls. Amber will be studying abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year in both France and Cameroon where she will research the relationship between the colonized and colonizer along with international philanthropy.


Abby Alexanian
Graduate Research Assistant

Abby Alexanian is an MPP/MBA candidate concentrating in Children, Youth & Families, and has over five years of nonprofit experience providing crisis intervention and case management services to survivors of violence and trauma. Abby’s policy and research interests focus around reducing and preventing adversities in early childhood, violence prevention, and creating equitable, collaborative systems of support for families. Prior to coming to Heller, Abby worked for several years as the children’s advocate in a domestic violence shelter in Ann Arbor, MI, and in this position she designed and implemented a new children’s program as well as a family outcomes tracking system. While at Heller Abby completed a summer internship in the Office of the President at The Boston Foundation, where she researched and wrote a report about gaps and opportunities for investment in the early childhood space in Boston, as part of TBF’s 5-year strategic planning process. For the past four years Abby has been working on a documentary film with her father that looks at the ongoing effects of the Armenian Genocide on her own family and Armenian-American families today. Abby received a B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies from Vassar College.

Derek Lowry

Derek Lowry

Derek Lowry completed an MPP at the Heller School in May 2016 with a concentration in poverty alleviation. His research interests tend to focus on issues surrounding educational equity and the economic outcomes associated with proper access and quality. Before coming to Heller, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Alba Iulia, Romania, and volunteered extensively in Eastern Europe. During this time, he participated in many community building projects and taught English as a foreign language. He also has several years of experience as a teacher, in both the public and private sector, primarily working with students in the Southeast. Once his interest piqued in social justice, he created a nonprofit organization called Men’s Reentry Initiative that worked out of several prisons and jails in South Carolina in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and connect returning citizens with useful resources for success after incarceration. Recently, he’s finished a fellowship in Washington, D.C., where he did policy-related work for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education within the US Department of Education. Derek is currently a Policy Analyst at the Council of State Governments Justice Center in New York.


Andrew B. Hahn, PhD '78
Former Director and Professor Emeritus

Andrew B. Hahn is a professor with the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. In 2007 he was appointed to direct the new Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy.

A leading expert on youth development for international donors, multi-national corporations and American foundations, Hahn directs the Center which enriches the Heller School's educational offerings with research and teaching about contemporary philanthropy and stimulates the growth of effective philanthropy among foundations and philanthropists. Hahn teaches courses on social policy and program evaluation, youth policy, community building and others.   

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