Our Staff

Ari Dubin

Executive Director


Ari Dubin began working as Executive Director of Vanderbilt Hillel in July 2005. Originally from Houston, TX Ari received his BA in Psychology from American Jewish University and M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from University of Texas. Before coming to Vanderbilt Hillel, Ari was the Assistant Director of Duke Hillel, the Youth and Camping Director at the JCC in San Antonio and Director of Teen Services at MetroWest JCC. Ari and his wife, Abbie, live with their two daughters Davi (10) and Emmie (8).

Brian Small

Assistant Director


Brian Small joined the Vanderbilt Hillel staff in the summer of 2017.  A long-time higher education professional, Brian uses his diverse education and a decade of Hillel experience to advocate for a delivery model that brings Jewish life to the students where they are geographically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally.  He is a proponent of peer-based engagement strategies and creating diverse programmatic and micro-community offerings.  Brian, in his limited free time, is a dorky comic book and sports memorabilia collector and an avid board gamer.  He is a rabid sports fan, prefers to wear bowties rather than traditional neckties, and hotdogs are his favorite food.  Brian and Shannon, his wife, are blessed with two children, Danielle and Ari, and their beloved dog, a Havanese named Desi.

Zoe Kress

Springboard Fellow- Innovation Specialist


Born in China and raised in New Jersey, Zoe is so excited be working at Vanderbilt Hillel as a Springboard Fellow- Innovation Specialist. Zoe graduated from the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary where she majored in Psychology and Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies respectively. In college, Zoe was actively involved with Hillel, interned at various non-profit organizations including the American Jewish Committee and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and taught Hebrew School at Congregation Rodeph Sholom. In her spare time, Zoe loves hosting Shabbat dinners, spending time by the water, reading Daniel Silva, and playing with dogs.

Max Ryabinin

Escoll Family Jewish Agency Israel Fellow to Hillel


Max is our new Jewish Agency Israel Fellow. Max comes to us from Beit-Shean, Israel. Max was born in Donetsk, in the former Soviet Union and made Aliya with his parents in 1993 when he was 4 years old. Max served his country for three years in the IDF. Max graduated from the IDC Herzliya, Lauder School of Government, Strategy and Diplomacy with a cum laude degree in Government. Max is an Argov Fellowship in Leadership and Diplomacy alumni. For the past three years Max volunteered as an instructor in the “Aharai” (follow me) youth movement. Aharai encourages and prepares the Israeli youth for a meaningful military service. Max loves to travel, listening to music, going to music concerts and watch TV.

To learn more about the Israel Fellow program and the Escoll family, please click here.

Debby Wiston

Director of Operations


Debby Wiston has been on staff at Vanderbilt Hillel for more than 4 years and is currently the Director of Operations.  Debby attended the Joint Program between Columbia University and the List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary where she double majored in Bible and Political Science.  For the last 20 years, Debby has worked for numerous non-profit and Jewish organizations in NY, Atlanta and Nashville.  Most recently she served as the Development Director for the Akiva Jewish Day School and the founding Executive Director of the Nashville Business Committee for the Arts.  Debby and her husband, Stuart, live in Hendersonville, TN with their 4 young children: Leo, Celia, Zev and Maytal.

Valerie Landa



Valerie Landa is the Accountant for Vanderbilt Hillel and is responsible for managing the financial operations of the organization.  She has over 18 years of tax and accounting experience in both public accounting and private industry.  Valerie graduated with a Bachelor in Professional Accounting from Mississippi State University and a Master of Accounting with a Tax Concentration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Valerie began her career at Arthur Andersen where she worked in the tax department.  She has also worked at Kraft CPAs, Caterpillar Financial, and Kraft & Company, PLLC.  Valerie is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Tennessee Society of CPAs.