The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Team

Susan Eaton

Susan Eaton
Director

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
Assistant Director

Sheryl Seller is Sillerman’s Assistant Director, with responsibilities including directing Sillerman's youth philanthropy project, 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.

Stacey King

Stacey King
Department Coordinator

Stacey King is Sillerman's Department Coordinator. Her responsibilities include supporting program staff with scheduling, processing reimbursements, and providing administrative support.  Stacey also assists with communications and strategies to promote social justice philanthropy.  In addition, she manages the administrative needs of the department including, but not limited to dissemination of publications to strengthen grant making for social justice causes as well updating and maintaining the department's website and social media. Stacey holds an MS in Criminal Justice from Boston University and a BA in in both Political Science and Sociology from Merrimack College.

Celeste Reid Lee

Celeste Reid Lee
Adjunct Lecturer

Celeste Reid Lee, Senior Director of Grantmaking, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, oversees the Foundation’s grantmaking work. This role marks her return to the Foundation, where she previously served as the first director of Community Health Programs after the Foundation was created in 2001. During that six-year tenure at the Foundation, she managed a portfolio of grants focused on cultural competence, health care disparities, and children’s mental health. Prior to her return, Celeste was the senior director of Member, Account & Provider Enrollment at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Her nearly 20-year history with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts includes roles as senior director of Business Relations and Supplier Diversity, executive director of the company’s WellChild Foundation for children’s mental and emotional health, and director of Community Relations.

Before coming to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Celeste held a variety of management positions at Boston-based organizations, largely in public relations and marketing communications. She also previously led her own Boston-based firm. Celeste holds a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire.

Denise Porche

Denise Porche
Adjunct Lecturer

Denise Porche has held leadership roles in community activism, social service provision and philanthropy for more than three decades. Currently, Denise is Executive Director of the Island Foundation, which she has led since 2009. Under her leadership, the Island Foundation has increased its funding for basic needs, diversity, inclusion and equity grantmaking strategies, and educational and work opportunities for underserved populations. In addition, she founded the Southeastern Massachusetts Food Security Network and the Women CEO’s Group.

Prior to joining the Island Foundation, Denise was a fellow at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, she worked on inclusion projects, immigration issues, and was a member of the Harvard Diversity Working Group.

Denise holds an MSW from Boston University and a BA in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Suchi Saxena

Suchi Saxena
Consultant

Dr. Suchi Saxena is committed to driving equity and innovation across the American education.  Her focus on system-level change and leadership is grounded in ensuring that all kids thrive and can drive their own learning. She is known as an advocate for, and collaborating with, children, families, and educators in high-poverty communities.

Dr. Saxena served as the Raikes Foundation Fellow on Non-Cognitive Factors and Learning from 2014-2015, helping launch the Funder’s Collaborative for Innovative Measures while driving a non-cognitive innovation agenda across the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. As a systems entrepreneur, she founded Mixer, a new school enrollment platform that seeks to support racial and socioeconomic integration.  Suchi spent eight years with the New York City Department of Education, directing the talent and turnaround work for two persistently lowest-achieving New York City public schools in Harlem and the Bronx, and leading the growth of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. Dr. Saxena earned her B.A. in economics from Wellesley College, an MPA from Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, and is a 2015 graduate of the doctoral program in education leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jessica SantosJessica Santos, PhD'15, Project Co-Director
Jessica is a researcher, consultant, and educator with expertise in social inequality, workforce development and diversity, refugee and immigrant integration, and innovation in health and human services.  She is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University and an Associate Professor in the department of public health at Rivier University.  Prior to joining IASP, she worked at the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs where she developed and managed projects to further health and equity in New Hampshire.  Jessica spent 10 years designing and implementing projects to improve the well-being of families and communities in New England and Latin America.  She worked with partners to secure millions of dollars in public and private funds for public health and economic inclusion in New Hampshire.  Her current work is focused on learning from the intersections of research and practice to reduce inequality and bring innovative policy and program solutions to scale.

Cristina Aguilera SandovalCristina Aguilera Sandoval, Project Co-Director
Cristina is an advocate, trainer and consultant, with expertise in social movements and diversity-and-inclusion. Born in the US and raised in Venezuela, she spent the last decade inspiring others to take social and political action, building coalitions to pass legislations, connecting individuals to opportunities and information and integrating leaders that are making communities more welcoming. She currently works as a consultant with the immigrant integration projects of the Sillerman Center for Philanthropy at Brandeis University, the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees (NHAIR). She co-founded Venezuelan Women in Action, launching this fall, to raise international awareness about the political violence Venezuelan women are facing and she manages operations at her husband's immigration and human rights law firm,the Law Offices of Julio Henríquez. Cristina worked for six years at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), where she rose to become Director of Organizing. Before joining MIRA, she worked with the labor movement across the United States and abroad. Cristina was an undergraduate at Venezuela’s Universidad de Carabobo and graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration from the LKY School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.  

Anja ParishAnja Parish
Graduate Research Assistant

Anja Parish is a graduate student at the Heller School for Management and Social Policy, Brandeis University, and will be graduating in May 2018 with a Joint MPP in Social Policy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. A former immigration officer with USCIS, Anja's research focuses on gender-based violence and humanitarian immigration policy.

Amber AbernathyAmber Abernathy
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Amber Abernathy is a senior and Posse scholar 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, and The Princeton Blairstown Center (PBC) as a literacy instructor serving underrepresented youth in under resourced communities.  She also worked with Girl Talk Inc., an Atlanta based international non-profit organization, that helps high school girls mentor middle school girls. Amber currently serves as the Brandeis Undergraduate Student Union Diversity and Inclusion Officer.  Upon graduation, Amber will be working as a small business insurance underwriter, and hopes to study insurance and social justice.

Jade Eckels

Jade Eckels
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jade Eckels is a senior double majoring in English and African and Afro-American Studies with minors in History and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. On campus, she is a Community Advisor, a Steering Committee Member for the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, and a tutor for the English Language Learning Initiative. She also serves on the board of the Waltham nonprofit Africano. She ultimately hopes to be a change agent in the education policy realm.

Victoria St. Jean

Victoria St. Jean
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Victoria St. Jean is a junior at Brandeis double majoring in Politics and History with minor in Legal Studies. Victoria is a co-founder of the Waltham-based nonprofit The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII). Previously, Victoria has also worked as a communications intern for the ACLU of New Hampshire and as a mentor for Debate Mate USA. On campus, she is involved with the Student Association for TRII, Brandeis Amnesty International, and Brandeis Pro-Choice.

Derek Lowry

Derek Lowry, MPP'16
Advisor

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.


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