The Vanderbilt Hillel Team
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 and Emmie.
Brian Small joined the Vanderbilt Hillel staff in the summer of 2017. A long-time higher education professional, Brian uses his diverse education and more than 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 collector, rabid Nashville Predators fan, and a lover of nerdy board and card games. Additionally, he is a consumer of comic-book movies, prefers to wear bowties, and hotdogs are his favorite food. Brian and Shannon, his wife, are blessed with two children, Danielle and Ari, and their beloved dog, a Teddy Bear named Theo.
Escoll Family Shlicha
Sara Seidman, originally from Jerusalem, Israel, studied education in David Yellen College in Jerusalem. She is so excited to be joining the Vanderbilt Hillel team and to experience all of Nashville’s beauty as Hillel’s 2019-2020 Escoll Family Shlicha. Sara, in her time in Jerusalem, was a Moishe house resident and organized various activities and programming for the local Jewish community. Sara loves to travel and teaching Taekwondo in her spare time. She’s looking forward to meeting new people and to sharing her favorite parts of Israeli culture!
Coordinator of Engagement and Social Justice Programming
Originally from Land O Lakes, Florida, Veronica is thrilled to be part of the Vanderbilt Hillel team. She graduated in May from Syracuse University, where she studied Public Relations and minored in Jewish Studies. During her time at Syracuse, Veronica held several leadership positions in Hillel, including Communications Vice President, FreshFest Preorientation Co-Chair, and Office Manager. She was also an active member of her sorority and enjoyed spending time at Chabad. During her summers, Veronica enjoyed working as a CLIP Program URJ Youth Communications Intern and a Communications Manager at the URJ Kutz Camp, where she realized her passion for Jewish youth work. She loves to remain active in her home NFTY community, and volunteers with her temple’s youth group and at regional events. Aside from her passion for the Jewish community, Veronica is a yoga enthusiast, avid hiker, and boba tea aficionado.
Jewish Agency & Escoll Family Israel Fellow
Starting in the fall of 2020, Leetal Shoshan joined the Vanderbilt Hillel staff as the Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow. Leetal was born in Kfar Saba, Israel, and was raised in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She served in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and was part of the International Press Desk, managing the IDF’s relations with US media outlets. Leetal has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Public Diplomacy. She has experience in public diplomacy and social media. Leetal was a social activism intern at Act.IL, using public diplomacy and nation branding for Israel through online campaigns and social platforms. Leetal has three younger siblings (a brother, and two sisters) and likes to read, cook, and travel.
Springboard Ezra Fellow
Hailing from Newton, MA, LilyFish Gomberg (she/they) is excited about joining the Vanderbilt Hillel Team! They graduated in December 2020 from Brandeis University, having majored in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies with minors in Sexuality & Queer Studies and History. At Brandeis, LilyFish was president of the Brandeis Reconstructionist Organization, a member group of Hillel at Brandeis, and also held several positions for her Jewish sorority, ΣAEΠ. They also were a peer counselor for the Student Sexuality Information Service on campus, and worked as a religious school teacher at her home synagogue. LilyFish has worked for several Jewish organizations, including Keshet, Repair the World, the Jewish Community Day School of Boston, Camp Havaya, and others, and hopes to someday become a Reconstructionist Rabbi. In their free time, she enjoys painting, spending time with friends, and traveling.
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 four young children: Leo, Celia, Zev and Maytal.
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.