The co-founder of Yavneh College and Hertsmere Jewish Primary School has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, who lives in Borehamwood, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to the legal profession and human rights.

Rebecca is chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Education at a ceremony on September 10, held at St Albans Cathedral.

Rebecca trained and practised at Linklaters in London before taking a career break to have a family.

During that time, Rebecca became aware of a need for Jewish schools in the Hertfordshire area, so she co-founded the Hertsmere Jewish Primary School, near Radlett, in 2000, and then Yavneh College in Borehamwood in 2006. She served as a governor of both schools and had a son in each of the first intakes.

Rebecca returned to legal practice in 2001 and held a number of positions in the Department for Education and Skills, and then in the Attorney General’s Office doing public interest casework and pro bono work.

In 2014 she joined the Equality and Human Rights Commission and eighteen months later she became chief executive officer. She describes this position as ‘the best job in the world’, for many different reasons, not least because of the difference the commission is making both in areas of national importance and in the lives of individuals, and its mission to make Britain a fairer society.

Rebecca has also set up the National Pro Bono Centre in Chancery Lane, and she has sat on a number of boards of charities and advice agencies.

Following the award, Rebecca said: "Hertfordshire is my local university and I am particularly appreciative and grateful for the honour, given the importance to me of the community."