Maria Madison Builds Global Partnerships for the Heller School

The Heller Dean met with key donors, alumni, and institutional partners who are effecting positive social change globally

December 19, 2022

Interim Dean Maria Madison strengthened critical partnerships for the Heller School with alumni, donors, and partner organizations in a recent trip to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. “I was deeply moved to meet so many members of the Brandeis University community who are doing critical, high-impact social justice work in the region,” says Madison.

In her first days on the trip, Madison met with Mindy Schneider ‘75, and her husband Michael Lesser, MD, with whom she received a tour of the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel.  This pediatric hospital services children throughout the Middle East and beyond. “I was delighted to witness firsthand the profound impact Mindy and Michael have had in healthcare in Israel and the world, especially given their longstanding dedication to supporting health policy at the Heller School,” she says. 

“The Schneiders’ attention to every detail of the hospital was inspiring. From the colorful kites in the community area provided by the Schneiders, to the construction of the adjacent glass extension building, the family has truly centered inclusion, well-being, equity, and diversity in their hospital for global patients and their caregivers.”

The Schneider family are longtime, multi-generational benefactors to the Heller School and Brandeis University, and Mindy Schneider currently serves as a university trustee. Between 2003-2008, the late Irving Schneider, Mindy’s father, donated funds toward the construction of the Irving Schneider and Family Building, which opened in 2007 and celebrated its fifteenth anniversary this year. Additional health policy-related donations to the Heller School include Irving Schneider’s support to establish the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy and Research (founded in 1978), and more recent gifts from Mindy and Michael to the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative (founded in 2017).

Madison also joined the Our Generation Speaks (OGS) delegation while in the region, an annual four-day trip led by OGS advisory board chair and former Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick. The group, which included Brandeis trustees, professors, and fellows, met with cross-cultural representatives throughout the region. Dean Madison describes the experience as profound and directly connected to Brandeis and Heller’s mission and President Liebowitz’s Framework for the Future. 

“I hope many of the learnings from this part of the trip can inform our dialogues and pedagogy on campus,” said Madison. One such example, she adds, is to launch an inaugural post-doctorate/affiliate appointment in learning about the region, especially at a time of mounting antisemitism in the U.S.

Throughout her travels, Dean Madison met frequently with alumni, board members and others who maintained lifelong ties to Heller and Brandeis, many of which were established through Professor Stuart Altman’s strong connection to the area over 35 years. The trip culminated with an informal gathering of alumni from across the campus. 

“It is critical that Heller continue to cultivate relationships with our alumni, friends, and partners around the world,” says Madison. “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with so many alumni, all of whom are doing amazing, high-impact work in the field. In every conversation, I heard a sincere fondness for Heller and Brandeis. To see the myriad ways in which our alumni are effecting positive social change is inspiring. I hope to carry their voices and ideas forward.”