The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

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Leadership Team


Margaret McKenna

Acting Director and Visiting Professor

Margaret McKenna is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice.  McKenna began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.  Later in her career, she served as the Deputy Counsel in the White House and as Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and led the education transition team for President Clinton. McKenna’s experience in higher education includes serving as Vice President of Radcliffe College and as President of Lesley University for twenty-two years. She also served as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.  During her tenure at Lesley, the college grew from 2,000 to over 10,000 students, from a college to a university, and from a small regional college to a nationally recognized leader in teacher education. While leading the Walmart Foundation from 2007 - 2011, she created a strategy that emphasized hunger relief, education, and the economic empowerment of women. During her term, the Foundation provided more than $900 million in grants annually.  McKenna is an author, speaker, and expert on issues of educational access, women’s economic empowerment, hunger, and social change leadership. She has served on five corporate boards and dozens of non-profit boards and is the recipient of ten Honorary Degrees.  She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Board and sits on the Commonwealth's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Melissa Nemon, PhD

Senior Research Associate

Dr. Melissa L. Nemon holds a Ph.D. Community Economic Development; an M.A. Community Social Psychology; an M.A. Community Economic Development with specialization in Public Policy; and B.A. Psychology. Her research interests are primarily community-based including assessment, development, community-based economics, engagement, social issues / social justice, philanthropy, impact studies, monitoring/evaluation, community psychology, social psychology, and community participation. In her practitioner and consulting experience, she has worked with local communities; state and federal government agencies; and a variety of nonprofit, government, for-profits and NGOs from all over the U.S. While many study why an individual does things, Dr. Nemon is interested in why communities do things - sometimes not in their better interests - and studies philanthropy, decision-making and impact on social issues and injustices through community-based research and practice. Prior to becoming a Senior Research Associate at Brandeis University, she was previously an Associate Dean at a private university and the Vice President of Community Impact at a regional United Way.

Sheryl Seller
Sheryl Seller '11, M.A. '13

Program Administrator

Sheryl Seller holds an M.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Immigration Patterns and Policy; and a B.A. in Global Studies and Hispanic Studies, from Brandeis University. She has a strong background in marketing and communications. Sheryl has also worked as an adult ESOL instructor and holds a TEFL certificate. She has been recognized for her commitment to volunteerism.


Andrew B. Hahn, PhD '78

Former Director and Senior Fellow

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.   more


Claudia Jacobs '70, MSW

Senior Visiting Fellow

Claudia Jacobs '70 has worked at the Heller School since 1997, first as Director of Development, Communications and Alumni Relations. In 2008 she joined the Sillerman Center. Prior to the Heller School, she worked as the Major Gifts Director and Associate Campaign Director at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. Prior to that she was senior associate at The Philanthropic Initiative, providing strategic philanthropic consulting services to high net worth individuals and corporations.

Jacobs spent the preceding 20 years as a social worker. Her career spanned program development for a Boston area anti-poverty agency, community mental health and youth development and later child abuse prevention and policy in Vermont. Later, she was the founding director of the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners (based at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston) and was on the faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work for a decade.

Jacobs earned her MSW in community practice at the University of Michigan. Her commitment to the not-for-profit sector and her work on both sides of the philanthropic landscape have led to her interest in advancing social justice philanthropy.


Laurie A. Nsiah-Jefferson '80, PhD '06

Senior Scientist

Dr. Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson holds faculty and senior scientist positions at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She is affiliated with the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, and the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy.  She is also an affiliated faculty member in the African and Afro-American Studies Department and the Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) Program. She chairs the WGS Concentration of the MPP Program, and is the coordinator and advisor to students enrolled in the MPP/WGS Joint Degree Program with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Nsiah-Jefferson chairs the MPP Diversity Subcommittee, and serves on the Heller School Diversity Steering Committee.  Last year she was a Davis Teaching and Learning Fellow working with a cohort of Brandeis faculty to explore innovations in pedagogy for effective teaching and student learning.


Jeffrey Prottas


Dr. Jeffrey Prottas is a Professor at Brandeis University and a member of the senior staff of the Institute on Healthcare Systems at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy. Dr. Prottas has specialized in research on organizational behavior and change, especially in service delivery programs. Taking an implementation viewpoint, his work has focused on how organizations adapt to changes in their organizational and technical environments. This research has been concentrated in the health care field and has been concerned with program and policy evaluation and the impact of organizational and political factors in the implementation of public policy. Methodologically his research has depended on a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques, including case studies and survey methodologies. Dr. Prottas has extensive experience using comparative case studies of organizational decision-making and in the management of multi-site data collection efforts. This has included studies of the impact of organizational structure and decision-making processes on effectiveness in such diverse organizations as substance abuse treatment facilities, hospitals and Community Health Centers. During the last several years Dr. Prottas has extended his work into the community's role in policy development and implementation. This approach focuses on the importance of partnerships with community-based organizations. Dr. Prottas has written extensively on issues of organ transplantation and procurement and has taught courses on negotiation and mediation at Harvard University and Brandeis University.

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