Spotlight on Alumnae

Shivani Saxena '11

Starting in September 2011, Shivani, who was a double major in Religion and Economics, will be working at Tritek Solutions (a small technology consulting firm) in New York City.

Leslie Ribovich '11

After graduation, Leslie will be entering Princeton University’s Ph.D. program in Religion in America. She could not be more excited to build upon the work she did on character education, religion in the public sphere, and the viability of separation of church and state for her senior thesis at Barnard.

Laura Resnick '11

Laura is living in Massachusetts and working on an organic farm.

Ilana Krakowski '11

In the coming year, Ilana writes, she will be “participating in a year-long program called AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.  AVODAH, meaning service, is an Americorps-approved program that ‘strengthens the Jewish community's fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States.’ Through AVODAH, I will be working in Washington, D.C. at a non-profit organization called N Street Village: A Community of Empowerment and Recovery for Women. N Street Village provides emergency and long-term services to homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C. I will be working as the program assistant to N Street’s Wellness Center that focuses on mental, spiritual, and physical health programming for the women whom N Street serves.”

Julia Bloch '10

Julia was a double major in Religion and Dance at Barnard.

Julia Bloch '10Both before and after graduation, she worked for a period at the Arts Initiative of Columbia University.  She is now traveling around the world, blogging about her many adventures.  You can follow Julia’s travels at her blog,

Ilana Borzak '10

Ilana is working in advertising in New York City and trying to decide whether to continue in this career path or return to her first academic love:  the study of religion.

Lindsey Lovvorn-Zimmerman '10

Lindsey writes: After graduation and getting to spend a wonderfully thesis-free (and hot) summer in NYC, I have now settled in Denver, Colorado where I am completing a year of service with an Americorps program called the Urban Servant Corps. Six weeks ago I moved in to a huge old house with seven other volunteers and began working full-time as a case manager for DenUM, a low-income services organization. Post-Barnard life has been a transition to say the least, but getting to put my studies in action is something I feel thankful for everyday. My New York street-smarts make me the "go-to" for questions by mostly small-town, mid-Western housemates and discovering Denver has given me a whole new perspective on urban life. It may not be Barnard, but each day is an adventure in a new city that I am getting to love more and more. Many thoughts and best wishes to the Religion Seniors as they embark on the thesis journey this semester!”

Sarah Sherer-Kohlburn '10

Sarah is currently in her first year at the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Missouri.  She reports that law school takes up almost all of her time, but she is teaching Sunday School for the kindergarten at the synagogue in town along with participating in a lot of activities at the law school.

Shae Cali '09

Shae is currently employed at the Bowery Residents' Committee as a Housing Specialist.

Shae CaliShe works at the Reception Center, a transitional shelter for chronically homeless mentally ill single adults. Her duties include case management, completing housing applications, counseling, running groups, and aftercare case management for clients who move into permanent supportive housing. She plans to return to graduate school in the fall of 2011.

Jennifer Feierman ’09

Jennifer is living in Astoria, Queens, and pursuing non-profit fund raising and development. Currently, she is working as the Development Associate at The East Harlem School at Exodus House, a private middle school in East Harlem for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ruth Weiss '09

Ruth began a Master’s program in Ancient Judaism at the Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary the semester after graduating from Barnard.  She hopes to finish the program in spring 2011 and then to take some time away from school to work and to figure out whether she’d like to pursue a doctorate in Religion.

Jessica Miller '09

Jessica writes: “Since graduation I’ve done a lot of traveling and a lot of job-hunting.  

Jessica MillerRight now I’m keeping up with my religious studies as an editorial intern for Killing the Buddha, ‘a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches.’  I’ve also been doing some freelance writing for various publications, including Mashable, the Huffington Post, and, most recently, the Hebrew Union College Chronicle.

Samantha Gonzalez-Block '08

For Samantha majoring in religion has truly changed the course of her life.

Samantha Gonzalez-BlockSince graduation, her understanding of theology has helped her to hold a number of exciting jobs on two different continents.  After completing her studies at Barnard, Samantha became a history teacher at a public middle school in Harlem.  For her next job, Samantha was inspired by her Barnard thesis that investigated the influence of the Catholic Church on the Chilean government—especially concerning abortion—to move to Chile to work with a women’s rights group called Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir(Catholics for Free Choice).  The group advocates for reproductive rights, and Samantha was the group’s chief theologian. She is still very involved with them to this day.  Samantha is currently pursuing her masters in International Non-Profit Management at New York University. She is also doing a full time internship at the United Nations, working for the Secretary General's campaign: UNITE - To End Violence Against Women.  Samantha hopes to some day run her own international non-profit entity that deals with critical women's issues. Samantha is thrilled by where life has taken her, and considers her Barnard education to be a crucial stepping stone, as well as a glorious time in her life.

Rachel Levine '08

Rachel spent the year following graduation traveling and working abroad.

Her travels brought her to Central America, Israel, India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia.  Upon returning to the US, Rachel began working at the New York State Psychiatric Institute as a research assistant in a brain imaging lab. This past fall, she began a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Fordham University. Among other interests, Rachel continues to pursue religious studies.  To this end, she is working with a professor at Fordham to research the psychological mechanisms of religious experience and expression.

Ariel Schwartz '08

Ariel participated in Barnard’s double-degree program with Jewish Theological Seminary of America, majoring in Religion at Barnard and in Hebrew Bible at JTS.  After graduation, Ariel lived in Mumbai, India for a year, working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. She is currently in her first year at Northwestern University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Contemporary Religious Studies, focusing on interfaith dialogue.

Leah Vaks '08

Leah writes: “In 2006-2008 I spent my time teaching in various school systems, tutoring, and exploring fascinating religious communities in the Boston area.  In the summer of 2008 I participated in a 7-week language-immersion program, the Brandeis-Middlebury School of Hebrew, in Middlebury, Vermont. I went on to study Hebrew-language instruction at Brandeis University in 2008-2009. After deciding to switch to full-time Judaic studies, I moved to New York City, where I studied Talmud and Halacha in 2009-2010 as a fellow at Drisha Scholars Circle. While in NYC, I was an active member of the Carlebach Shul. In May 2010, I came to Israel to visit my twin sister who had just given birth to her second child. During my visit, I decided to stay there permanently and make aliyah. For the last 4 months, I have been living in Jerusalem, where I am continuing my studies in Talmud as a fellow at Beit Morasha of Jerusalem. My program combines traditional yeshiva-style learning as well as academic courses on cite and at Bar Ilan University. I plan to continue studying there for the next 3 years and complete an MA either in Talmud or in Jewish Thought. My other activities include working as a freelance translator from Hebrew to English, exploring the Kurdish and Yemenite Jewish communities, and increasing my friendship and mutual understanding with the Arab citizens of Israel.”

Miriam Lipsky '07

Miriam “After graduation, I married Josh Schainker and we live on the Upper West Side. I work as Director of Recruitment and Alumni Relations for Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, which is a center for the advanced study of Jewish classical texts and philosophy for women (partially inspired by my thesis topic from my senior year at Barnard!). Josh is a financial consultant with Houlihan Lokey.”

Natalie Sears '06

Natalie published a poem in the Indiana Review in 2007, followed by a short story in The Missouri Review in 2008.  She also has an essay in the fall 2011 issue of the Southern Indiana Review.   

She received her MLS in 2009 from the School of Information and Library Science at the Pratt Institute. She currently works as a librarian and bookseller in her native Cleveland, Ohio, and writes in her spare time.

Nicole Safranek '05

ESL classNicole writes:  “I am continuing with what I started after graduation: Teaching.

I taught ESL for three years in the Bronx through the New York City Teaching Fellows program, and then I moved to Costa Rica to teach English and Social Studies to grades 5-8 in a bilingual Quaker school in Monteverde. The job is a dream come true and Costa Rica is a wonderful place to live.”

Heather Ohaneson '03

Heather OhanesonAt Barnard, Heather was a double major in philosophy and religion, writing her thesis on Aristotelian and Biblical perspectives of friendship.

She is now completing a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion at Columbia University.  Her areas of interest include the philosophy of Plato and Kierkegaard, the ethics of special relations, as well as philosophical and religious understandings of work.

Darcy Hirsh, '02

Darcy currently lives in Downtown Brooklyn and is the Associate Director of General Monitoring for the Prison Visiting Project of the Correctional Association of New York. The Prison Visiting Project monitors the conditions in New York State correctional facilities and seeks to ensure that inmates receive fair and humane treatment. Darcy continued her religious studies after Barnard, receiving a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 2006, where she focused on Hebrew Bible. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School in 2009.

Lani Santo '02

Lani's the Executive Director of Footsteps, a New York-based nonprofit. Footsteps provides educational, vocational and social support to those seeking to enter or explore the world beyond the insular ultra-religious communities in which they were raised.  Lani has dedicated her career to social justice and human rights work from a Jewish perspective. Prior to joining Footsteps, she served as a Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she founded and managed the World Partners Fellowship, a service-learning program in which young adults volunteer for a year of work with grassroots non-governmental organizations in India. Lani is board member and alumna of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. She holds a Master’s Degree of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU's Wagner School. Lani graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College in 2002.

Kimberly Stratton '91

Book cover - naming the witchKim is Associate Professor in the College of Humanities at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

She is the author of Naming the Witch: Magic, Ideology, and Stereotype in the Ancient World, published by Columbia University Press in 2007.

Judith Weisenfeld '86

Judith; “With the support and guidance of the wonderful faculty in the Barnard Religion Department, I went on the complete a Ph.D. in Religion at Princeton University. After graduate school, I returned to Barnard as an assistant professor in Religion before moving to Vassar College, where I held William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship in the Religion Department. I’m currently Professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University, associate faculty in the Center for African American Studies, and I participate in the Programs in Women and Gender Studies, American Studies, and Film Studies. My teaching and research focus on early twentieth-century African American religious history and religion in early American film.” Judith is the author of African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945(Harvard University Press, 1998) and Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929–1949 (University of California Press, 2007), and the coeditor, with Richard Newman, of This Far By Faith: Readings in African American Women's Religious Biography (Routledge, 1996).  She also writes frequently for the University of Southern California Media and Religion blog, Trans/Missions.

book cover african american women and christian activismhollywood be thy name book coverThis by far book cover

Georgia Frank '85

“I’ve been teaching since 1994 in the Religion Department at Colgate University, a liberal arts college in rural New York. I write about ancient Christianity, a passion I first discovered in freshman courses with Elaine Pagels and seminar travel to Greece with Holland Hendrix in the 1980s. My family and I recently spent a semester in Scotland, where I directed one of Colgate's study abroad program in Saint Andrews.”

Georgia is chair of the Religion Department at Colgate and the author of The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity (University of California Press, 2000) and many important articles in the field of late ancient Christianity.