ESC Partner Programs
Participant Biographies

2010 Participant Biographies

  • Katherine Adams
  • Graduate Student
  • Adult Education
  • University of Georgia

Katherine Adams is a 3rd year Ph.D. student with the University of Georgia's Adult Education program. She is also the Masters of Social work Program Coordinator for the University of Georgia. Her research interests are in the areas of partnership development and community voice within the scholarship of engagement. Katherine Adams would like to pursue a career in higher education administration within an office of public service and outreach. Her previous experience with engaged scholarship can be seen in the creation of a service learning toolkit co- created for the University of Georgia's Office of Service-Learning, when the office was first being devised in 2005. Ms. Adams has had opportunity to participate in the School of Social work's Burn Camp the past 4 years. The Burn Camp is a service-learning course that partners social workers with firefighters for a week-long camp that benefits children that are significant burn survivors. She was funded to attend the 10th Annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference by an award from the President of the University of Georgia and the Office of Public Service and Outreach.

  • Eric Bailey
  • Graduate Student
  • Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies
  • Michigan State University

Eric is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies at MSU. His career goal is to serve as faculty in higher education. Research interests include Sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean, specifically mechanisms to increase micro and small business participation in tourism. As part of a MSU course, he was involved in conducting an evaluation of "Your Story and Mine," in Lansing, Michigan. "Your Story and Mine," is a cultural education project of the Michigan Historical Museum (MHM) targeted to transitional homeless people in the mid-Michigan area. This project involved working with staff members of MHM and participants to design and conduct an evaluation of the project. The evaluation provided evidence of three levels of project impacts, and highlighted the mechanisms through which cultural education contributes to personal wellbeing. Furthermore, the evaluation provided an example of the emerging role of cultural institutions as meeting practical contemporary societal needs, and validated the role of MHM as a relevant and responsive community institution. Eric worked with the Jamaica 4-H Clubs for seven year. In this position his role involved designing and implementing an educational program aimed at developing youth leadership, as well as involving building the voluntary arms of the organization, and facilitating the development of community based 4-H clubs.

  • Andrew O. Behnke
  • Assistant Professor
  • Human Development
  • North Carolina State University

Andrew Behnke, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Human Development and an extension specialist at North Carolina State University. He has served the Latino community for the last ten years in different capacities. He conducts applied research and outreach on academic achievement among Latino youth, parent involvement in academics, stress and parenting, and Latino fatherhood. Some of the research projects he is most thrilled about are his Fathers Count Study (looking at fathers and father figures influences on minority teens) and the SERA 37: Latino Outreach Study (a study of 1096 extension educators in the south). Some of the programmatic efforts he is most excited about are the dropout prevention program he co-developed called the Together for a Better Education (Juntos Para Una Mejor Educación) Program; his family violence prevention program entitled Lighting the Way to a Better Future (Iluminando el Camino para un Futuro Mejor); his program for Reservist and National Guard families entitled Essential Life Skills for Military Families; and his co-chairing the eXtension Community of Practice entitled Just in Time Parenting (a research based support for parents). His life mission is bringing better attention to those factors that help immigrant Latino families succeed and thrive in the U.S.

  • Ricardo Contreras
  • Assistant Professor
  • Anthropology
  • East Carolina University

Ricardo is an applied anthropologist with undergraduate training at the University of Chile and graduate training at the University of South Florida. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology, East Carolina University. His research agenda centers around the development of a Latino engaged research partnership that links together students, faculty, grassroots organizations, and service agencies. This partnership-Nuevo South Community Research Initiative (NSCRI) ( is now in its second year. At the core of this partnership is a model of linking research and practice which involves different ways of articulating research activities and the application of findings to the implementation of change initiatives. First, research for needs assessment and asset mapping purposes; second, formative research that illuminates intervention projects; and third, research projects whose findings will help to identify areas for social intervention.

In fall 2009 he was a fellow with the ECU Engaged and Outreach Scholars Academy. Associated with that fellowship, he is now conducting an ethnographic study of the NSCRI. As a participant observer, he will translate the practice of the Initiative into a model of engaged university-community research with Latinos. His career goal is contribute to the theory, methodology, and practice of engaged research. While playing an active role in the implementation of the NSCRI, he will do so from a scholarship of engagement perspective.

  • John Cook
  • Graduate Student
  • Education
  • University of New Hampshire

John has been working at Granite State College (GSC) since 2000. He served as the Research and Evaluation Coordinator for the Education and Training Partnership, a collaboration between GSC and the NH Division for Children, Youth and Families. This partnership provides training programs to individuals caring for children in foster care, as well as individuals working in the field of public child welfare. During his tenure at the Education & Training Partnership, John led research and program evaluation efforts that were notable for an inclusive approach taken with a multitude of stakeholders.

In 2008 John accepted the position of Faculty Coordinator at Granite State College for the Rochester/Portsmouth region. As the regional Academic Affairs officer, his key responsibilities include hiring faculty, and oversight for all regional undergraduate teaching and learning. He also teaches an undergraduate course for Behavioral Science majors titled "Introduction to Research in Behavioral Sciences." John completed his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Anthropology at St. Lawrence University. As an undergraduate, he completed a semester abroad in Kenya, and interned with the Community Conservation arm of Kenya Wildlife Services. After graduating, John completed a Masters degree at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in Community/Social Psychology, where his thesis examined the social impact of sports stadiums on youth. In 2009 he began part-time as a Ph.D. student in Education at the University of New Hampshire. His research interests focus on university/community engagement, with the institution as the primary unit of analysis.

Specific to career goals, John may consider tenure track or other full-time teaching opportunities in the future, but he relishes the opportunity to demonstrate the viability and benefit of engaged scholarship at his current institution, Granite State College.

  • Dayna Jean DeFeo
  • Graduate Student
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • New Mexico State University

Dayna Jean DeFeo is a doctoral student in New Mexico State University’s Curriculum and Instruction program and the Institutional Researcher at the Carlsbad branch campus of the institution. She received her Master’s degree in Education from New Mexico State University and her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Douglass College at Rutgers University. She teaches Spanish and linguistics as an adjunct faculty member and following graduation, she would like to move into a faculty position that allows her to combine her research and teaching interests. Her dissertation research will focus on serving the needs of heritage speakers of Spanish in university language curricula, but she is interested in critical pedagogy and developing culturally responsive curriculum to serve diverse learners and to help them recognize and challenge hegemony and oppression.

Previous research and scholarship includes working with Latino community college students to identify their perceived obstacles to success, advising community college students in the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society as they carry out scholarly and service projects, and studies of student enrollment patterns at a rural community college.

  • Susan Erickson
  • Graduate Student
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Iowa State Universitiy

Susan Erickson is a Program Coordinator with Extension Community and Economic Development at Iowa State University. She coordinates an outreach program for the College of Design, which houses the academic departments of Architecture, Art and Design (Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Integrated Studio Arts), Community and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture. Her position is funded by Extension, and is housed within the Institute for Design Research and Outreach. With one foot in academia and the other in Extension, she enjoys the challenge of meeting the needs of both sides.

The program she coordinates, PLaCE (Partnering Landscape and Community Enhancements), is an outgrowth of Iowa State University’s land-grant mission, investing the intellectual and organizational capital of the university in supporting the sustained development of Iowa. Her duties involve matching community development and design needs with academic needs of students and research needs of faculty. Each year, approximately ten outreach projects are coordinated through her office. She has been involved in several of these outreach projects as a course instructor, leading projects that designed a regional trail system, garden plans for several healthcare facilities, and investigating elder-friendly design as a community development tool.

Susan’s research interests relate to community impacts of service-learning and community engagement activities. She is a landscape architect by training and has other professional interests in therapeutic gardens, health benefits of contact with nature, and elder-friendly community design. She serves as Chair of the Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network, American Society of Landscape Architects.

  • Kate Guerdat
  • Graduate Student
  • Adult and Higher Education; Human Resource Development
  • North Carolina State University

As a Youth Development Professional with North Carolina State’s 4-H Youth Development, Kate Guerdat coordinates statewide 4-H delivery strategies, working with diverse adult and youth populations. She currently holds a Bachelors in Community Psychology from Fordham University, a Masters degree in Recreation Administration and Management from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and is currently completing her doctoral degree at NC State University in the Department of Adult and Higher Education; Human Resource Development.

As an Extension Associate for North Carolina 4-H, Kate Guerdat is responsible for researching best practice for youth program delivery in a variety of community contexts. Future career goals include a faculty-track, dual appointment within a land-grant university, enabling research to be conducted within local communities as well as classroom teaching opportunities for budding professionals. Kate’s research interests include exploring the nature of ethical organizations, organizational learning as a component of organizational development, elements of effective programming, positive youth development, and community resource development and collaboration.

While Kate’s experience with engaged scholarship research is limited to her current doctoral degree, her involvement with community-based research has been increasing over the past 10 years. Most recently, Kate conducted research overseas in rural communities in Romania to determine how universities could engage with the rural areas to increase youth and family programming opportunities. Through her research Kate ultimately hopes to bridge theory to practice for sustainable, outreach initiatives for higher education institutions and the communities they serve.

  • Susan Melsop
  • Assistant Professor
  • Design
  • The Ohio State University

Susan Melsop is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design at The Ohio State University. She has a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science of Architecture from The Ohio State University. Prior to her appointment in the Department of Design, she taught architecture design and sacred Asian architecture at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University. Part of her research involves the development of design pedagogy and new models of experiential learning and community engagement. An ecological design approach provides the framework for engagement and project development. The research focus pertains to the socio-cultural issues of sustainability and sustainable building practices.

Her areas of teaching are interdisciplinary design studios, architecture, interior design, and digital modeling. With a grant from the Service-Learning Initiative at The Ohio State University, she developed an outreach design/build studio. The intent of the interdisciplinary pilot course was to engage and interact with a non-profit organization and the residents it serves. The service-learning design studio provided students experiential learning beyond the campus, and it served a non-profit by directly engaging the program directors, community members and high school students in a design process and the fabrication of site specific installations, culturally inspired furniture, and ecologically sound landscape features.

Additionally, Ms. Melsop maintains an independent design practice; her work mediates between the scale of building, interiors, furniture and sculpture.

  • Michael Quartuch
  • Graduate Student
  • Forest Resources
  • University of Maine

Michael Quartuch received his Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management from Colorado State University in 2005 and will complete his Master's degree in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick in August 2010. Upon completion of his Master's degree, Michael will continue his education and passion for the human dimensions of natural resources management in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. Recently, Michael received an assistantship as part of U-Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (58I), a National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant. Michael's M.S. thesis was a qualitative study involving small scale private forest landowners throughout New Brunswick and Maine. Specifically, Michael used data from semi-structure interviews to analyze the interconnection between private property rights and responsibilities, stewardship and management and is exploring how these factors influence communities, and to a larger extent, society and forest ecosystems. While working as part of the SSI team, Michael will be able to pursue his interests in engagement in an interdisciplinary setting and will strive to conduct research that is applicable and relevant to both local communities and resource managers. Michael's research goals are to continue to study resource-based communities, knowledge to action and community engagement. Michael's long term career goals include becoming a professor or extension specialist.

  • Neivin Shalabi
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher Education
  • University of Denver

Neivin Shalabi is an Egyptian Ph.D. student with the Higher Education program of the University of Denver. After completion of her degree, she would like to pursue a faculty track position at an institution of higher education. Ms Shalabi’s academic interests focus on community engagement, service-learning, civic-learning outcomes for undergraduate students, and internationalization of higher education. She has several experiences with engaged scholarship and community-based research. For example, Neivin authored a master’s thesis on service-learning in 2008. She also participated in seminars on civic engagement. She has various volunteer experiences and has served several not-for-profit organizations in the Arab Republic of Egypt and the U.S. Neivin’s dissertation research investigates what constitutes successful university-community partnerships for service-learning. Through her research and field work, she aspires to establish strong connections between institutions of higher education and community-based organizations. She is also interested in advancing research on service-learning and community engagement from international perspectives, and improving practice pertaining to both the engaged scholarship and the scholarship of engagement.

  • Sandra Sydnor-Bousso
  • Assistant Professor
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Purdue University

Sandra is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Hospitality and Tourism at Purdue University. Her career goals are to receive promotion and tenure; to establish a scholarly record of publications; become known as an expert in her field; to build an international reputation as the go‐to person for practitioners; and to achieve the level of full professor. Her research interests are around organizational performance, including organizational continuity, resilience to natural disasters and strategy.

She has served as an instructor with the Ohio Foundation for Entrepreneurial Education (OFEE), a not-for-profit organization that offers a feasibility analyses and business planning curricula to businesses and community organizations. Sandra received the Purdue University campus-wide 2009-2010 Service Learning Faculty Development Grant and was a nominee for Best Paper Award for “Weathering the Storm: Firm Resilience Under Sudden Change” at the 14th Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality & Tourism. She also received an Ohio State University Dissertation Research Award in the Department of Consumer Sciences for 2008-2009.

  • Anu Taranath
  • Senior Lecturer
  • English
  • University of Washington

As Anu has become more familiar with the field of engaged and pubic scholarship, she finds that she has been practicing its theories for many years without using its precise terminology and format. All of what she does at the University of Washington Seattle hinges on engaged scholarship as a teacher and study abroad coordinator, as well as her students. This is her 10th year at the university; as a Senior Lecturer, teaching the literatures from Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean, prioritizing issues of power, privilege, pedagogy and the global in her classes. Her work as a study abroad coordinator for a program on Social Justice in South India directly links her scholarly passions with the activist and community world of international NGOs and CBOs (non-governmental organizations and community based organizations). Along with her colleagues in India, she strives to create curricula for her students that reveal the joys and complexities of doing social justice work in India. Additionally, they strive to create a model of international academic-community collaboration that is mindful of the geopolitical realties that structure us and our world, and honors the contributions of as many participants as possible.

  • Jessica Averitt Taylor
  • Graduate Student
  • Social Work
  • University of Alabama

Jessica Averitt Taylor is a Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work at the University of Alabama. Ms. Taylor received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2005, and completed her Master of Social Work degree at The University of Alabama in 2007.

The Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES) currently employs Ms. Taylor as Assistant to the Editor. JCES is a new academic research journal for scholarly works that report on the integration of service, community engagement, student learning, and scholarship. Funding for JCES is provided through the Office of Community Affairs at The University of Alabama as a fundamental component of the university’s commitment to community engagement and outreach.

Ms. Taylor recently co-authored a successful grant application for an engagement project, “Project Tuscaloosa: A community-based participatory research initiative to address local health concerns.” The objective of the project is to use community-based participatory research for the development of a sustainable community-led strategic plan to address a health issue identified by community stakeholders in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

For the academic year 2008-2009, Ms. Taylor was awarded the National Alumni Association Fellowship at The University of Alabama. Ms. Taylor most recently presented research at the Spring 2009 UA Graduate Student Conference. Ms. Taylor has volunteered her time at diverse local community organizations including the Red Cross, Birmingham AIDS Outreach, Campfire USA/LinksUp Mentoring, Jefferson County Department of Human Resources, Birmingham City Schools, and Safehouse Domestic Violence Shelter.

  • Deborah Thomson
  • Assistant Professor
  • Communication
  • East Carolina University

Deborah Thomson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at East Carolina University. She received a Ph.D. in Communication Studies (emphases in Performance Studies and Rhetoric) from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in 2005. Prior to her doctoral work, she was the founder and artistic director of PeopleAct, a community-based theatre organization that promoted social change through a collaborative theatre of community engagement and dialogue. Her collaborative performance works have been funded by the North Carolina Humanities Council, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Perkins Trust, and other organizations. She has published performance-centered research in such journals as Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts (2009), Liminalities: a Journal of Performance Studies (2009), and Text and Performance Quarterly (in press, 2010). Her current research focuses on the role of performative child-targeted food marketing in the epidemic of childhood obesity. Her future goals include returning to community-based performance work with youth as a strategy for combating childhood obesity.

  • Kate Willink
  • Assistant Professor
  • Communication Studies
  • University of Denver

Kate is an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver in the Department of Communication Studies. Her research explores how social, historical, economic, and political dimensions of cultural communication are rearticulated, subverted, or transformed by performances of cultural memory. Through conversations with community members who lived through various education policy attempts to redress social inequality, her work shows that contemporary communities continue to be fissured by the persistent power of memory and educational policy hamstrung by divergent cultural interpretations. Publications include the ethnographic oral history Bringing Desegregation Home and articles in Text and Performance Studies, Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, Qualitative Inquiry, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.

Since coming to Denver, she has been involved with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). Specifically she has worked with CSSEL to incorporate community-based research in her teaching and has been well supported in these pedagogical endeavors. She began as a Public Good Faculty Scholar in a program that addressed incorporating community engaged work in the classroom (2007-2008). This year she has been on the Advanced Service-Learning Associates Program, working on a literature review on community engaged research. For the last two years she has been a member of the Community-Based Learning Writing Group, where she has been working on an article about community engaged pedagogy and dialogue. She and her class received the University of Denver Public Good Award in 2008 for their work with a local non-profit. She also received the El Centro Humanitario Community Partner Award (2008) from that non-profit.

  • James K. Woodell
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher Education
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Jim Woodell is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education at the Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on organizational adaptation in universities within the context of knowledge production and the innovation economy. Jim is particularly interested in whether and how universities create boundary-spanning functions and structures to enact economic engagement. Jim’s research interests and academic work also include issues related to higher education and economic development policy formation and implementation. Before entering the doctoral program at Penn State, Jim worked in educational media and technology for 20 years, most recently as dean of academic technology and distance learning at a community college in Massachusetts. As a graduate research assistant in Penn State’s Outreach division, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Jim coordinates the Transformative Regional Engagement (TRE) Initiative, convening national thought leaders on university economic engagement to discuss and design a university-engaged regional development policy agenda. Upon completing his dissertation, Jim plans to return to higher education administration in an economic development and engagement capacity, or to pursue work in policy analysis for a higher education association or think tank.