Equity, Inclusion and Diversity


At the Heller School, commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity spans the entire community. Take a moment to get to know some of the people who are dedicated to social justice advocacy for marginalized populations at Brandeis and beyond.


Elena Lewis, Director, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Elena Lewis, GSAS MA’11

Director, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

A visionary leader who has been part of the Brandeis community for over 18 years, Elena brings with her extensive expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion; program management; and student retention. She has a demonstrated track record of program innovation, conflict resolution, and building strategic partnerships to promote student success.

Prior to her role at Heller, Elena served as the director for the TRIO Student Support Services Program in Academic Services, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and institutional funds at Brandeis University.

Elena also served as an inaugural ombuds in the Brandeis Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from 2016-2021 in response to student demands in Ford Hall 2015. She has extensive experience in conflict resolution, having received training from the International Ombuds Association. She has served on the Student Learning and Living Task Force and co-chaired the Academic Advising Working Group in the office of the Provost.

Elena earned her master’s degree in sociology at Brandeis, where she conducted research on the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has traveled across the country researching systemic inequity, racism, and racial reconciliation. She has presented at national conferences on the first-generation college student experience, including at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). She is active in New England faith-based nonprofit organizations mentoring and training students on their personal growth and spiritual formation. Elena has received DEI certification training from the Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Graduate Research Assistants

Ashley Brown, MBA'23

Ashley Brown, Social Impact MBA

Ashley is an MBA Social Impact student concentrating in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Management. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Ashley served as an Education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Kosovo from 2015-2017. During that tenure, she also served as a Peer Support Mentor, a member of the Gender, Advocacy, and Diversity Committee, and worked with the SOS Children’s Village as a secondary project. At Heller, Ashley is a Graduate Research Assistant for the EID office. Ashley’s goal is to help facilitate the growth and impact of the EID office. Ashley is originally from Long Island, New York.

Vianny Rodriguez, Master of Public Policy

Vianny Rodriguez, Master of Public Policy

Vianny Rodriguez is an MPP candidate at the Heller School concentrating in Economic and Racial Equity. She is interested in finding ways to build community empowerment, as well as improving civic engagement and social capital in marginalized communities. At Heller, Vianny is a Graduate Research Assistant with the Heller Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, working with team members to create and improve EID programs and initiatives. Before coming to Heller, she served as a Learning Program Coordinator with the U.S. Peace Corps in the Philippines from 2018-2020. During this time, she volunteered at a local integrated school, co-created environmental programs, facilitated multiple leadership camps, served as warden with the Safety and Security team, and served on the EID committee.  Vianny graduated with a dual degree in Marketing and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017.