ESC Partner Programs
Participant Biographies

2012 Participant Biographies

  • Christel Beverly
  • Graduate Student
  • Kinesiology
  • Michigan State University

Christel Beverly is a first year, dual doctoral student at Michigan State University, studying sport psychology and K-12 educational administration. She is a research assistant and College Ambition Program site coordinator at Lansing Sexton High School. Her current research interests include understanding the relationship between athletics and academics in urban schools to improve student achievement. Beverly is passionate about helping high school student-athletes receive the best possible opportunities to further their education in a college setting and seeks to empower practitioners in urban schools to further this agenda. She plans to situate herself in between academic theory and actual practice to serve as a bridge of learning and engagement between the two perspectives. The Lansing, Michigan native holds a B.A. in sociology-African American studies from Lafayette College, where she was a four-year student-athlete in basketball and volleyball. Beverly's professional endeavors include five years as a state social worker in New Jersey, site coordinator for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and assistant athletic director at Sexton High School, in Lansing.

  • Jackie Brodsky
  • Graduate Student
  • Communication and Information Sciences
  • University of Alabama

Jackie Brodsky, a third year Ph.D. student at the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences, is interested in the technology use and social support sought by people with age-related physiological disabilities. She was introduced to community-engaged scholarship while a master's student, as an instructor in Project FIT 4 Retirement, instructing senior citizens in information technology fluency at a local senior center. After the classes were over, she became interested in the project's research/evaluative aspect, conducting interviews with the other instructors and the community partners. Brodsky is fortunate to now be the graduate research assistant to Project ALFA (Accessible Libraries for All), helping prepare 30 master's students to facilitate information access for people with disabilities by creating partnerships with community agencies serving these populations. She is also involved with God's House Accessible Media Project (AMP), making weekly worship materials accessible to senior citizen members with visual difficulties. This project includes providing accessible materials, instructing members in the built-in accessibility tools on their own computers or handheld devices, and interviewing them about their technology use, perceived accessibility issues caused by their physical conditions, and the social support they seek. Brodsky has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles on accessibility and is hoping, after graduation, to be on the faculty of a graduate school of information science where she can continue to conduct research in this field and prepare the next generation of information professionals to work with community partners in meeting the needs of communities.

  • Lisa Brown
  • Graduate Student
  • Adult Education
  • University of Georgia

Lisa Brown is a second year graduate student researcher and teaching assistant working on her Ph.D. in adult education in the Department of Lifelong Education Administration and Policy, at the University of Georgia (UGA). She serves as co-instructor under the coaching of Professor Lorilee Sandmann, Ph.D., chair of the Adult Education Program and member of the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement National Advisory Council.

Brown holds both a master's degree in public administration (M.P.A.) and a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, from the University of Akron. Prior to her arrival at UGA, she taught natural science courses (biology, chemistry, and environmental science) at West High School, in the Columbus City School District. Prior to her teaching position, she was the associate director of CAPS, an injury prevention and safety program operating in Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio. She has also held a number of administrative positions in higher education at the University of Akron, Miami University of Ohio, and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. These positions ranged from minority peer counseling coordinator to director of intercultural affairs. Currently, her research interests are in the areas of civic engagement and the impacts of private, for-profit higher education in both the United States and Chile.

  • Robert Coffey Jr.
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education
  • Michigan State University

Robert Coffey is a fourth year doctoral student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University. He currently holds a graduate assistantship supporting undergraduate research in the Office of the Provost for Undergraduate Education. He has worked in student affairs for over ten years across multiple functional areas and maintains practitioner interests in conflict management, social justice education, and student leadership development. Coffey's research interests include: internationalization in postsecondary education (PSE); access and equity in PSE; student development; and campus conflict resolution. His dissertation research focuses on the use of education agents by Canadian universities in international student recruitment. After graduation, Coffey plans to work in international education as an administrator.

While Coffey often had an informal role in community engagement as a student affairs practitioner, Michigan State's Graduate Certification in Community Engagement program provided him with a formal introduction to engagement literature and community-based research. Coffey was accepted into the program in Fall 2010. The following summer, he completed a policy internship with the Government of Manitoba (Canada) under the auspices of the HALE Center for Higher and Adult Education. As an intern, Coffey was able to apply engagement scholarship to practice as he developed recommendations for how government and institutions could work together to promote best practices in international student recruitment.

Coffey holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of New Hampshire, a master's degree in history from the University of Maine, and a bachelor's degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Vermont.

  • Demetricia L. Hodges
  • Graduate Student
  • Educational Policy Studies
  • Georgia State University

Demetricia L. Hodges is an Educational Policy Studies doctoral student at Georgia State University (GSU). Currently, she is a graduate research assistant, which has afforded her the opportunity to develop as an emerging scholar and a future faculty member. She is interested in pursuing both a tenure track career in academia and a position as a foreign service specialist of educational policy with the United States Embassy, in an African country. Hodges's research interests include: educational leadership; urban education; history of Black education; racial/cultural diversity in educational leadership; and qualitative research methodologies.

As a graduate research assistant, she co-teaches undergraduate and graduate qualitative research courses in the area of research, statistics, and measurement. Teaching the undergraduate course, Field-based Research in Urban Education, provided her with the opportunity to engage undergraduate non-education students in service-learning, while developing a practical understanding of field-based research. It also gave her an opportunity to facilitate diverse research inquiries that focused on community-based issues while cultivating partnerships between the university and community organizations. Hodges's teaching efforts earned her recognition during GSU College of Education 2012 Honor's Day Program. She received the Outstanding Research, Measurement and Statistics Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, in recognition of her outstanding classroom teaching and work with individual students. Moreover, Hodges's diverse professional and educational experiences have provided her with opportunities to engage in community-based projects locally and globally, which are motivating factors for her impending research project with Black school leaders in urban environments.

  • Shelly Hoover-Plonk
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher Education
  • East Carolina University

Shelly Hoover-Plonk is a second year East Carolina University doctoral student in higher education. Her background includes over 15 years of student affairs work in the areas of: leadership development; service-learning; career resources; scholarship programs; human resources; admissions; orientation; and student activities. Hoover-Plonk's work with engaged scholarship began when she served as director (2001-2004) of the Center for Leadership Education and Service (CLES). During this time, CLES partnered with faculty members and community organizations to conduct alternative spring break trips and some of the trips were connected to a class in the form of service-learning. She has also worked in a faculty learning center at North Carolina State University under the leadership of the faculty member who was responsible for directing service-learning efforts across campus, and attended several North Carolina Campus Compact meetings with her.

Recently, she has been fortunate to work with a faculty member in her program to conduct a literature review focused on faculty who engage with social issues by partnering with an organization off campus or who conduct the work on their own. This work has increased Hoover-Plonk's interest in engaged scholarship. She aspires to hold a senior-level administrator position at a university or college that will allow her to support, incorporate or direct engaged scholarship efforts across the campus. She would like to serve as an adjunct faculty member in a higher education program as well. In addition to engaged scholarship, her research interests include: service-learning (particularly alternative break trips); leadership development; student development; and student access and retention efforts.

  • Tanja Karp
  • Associate Professor
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Texas Tech University

Dr. Tanja Karp is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas Tech University (TTU). She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, Germany, in 1993 and 1997, respectively. In 1997, she joined the Institute of Computer Engineering at Mannheim University, Germany, as a senior research and teaching associate, and the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas Tech University in 2000.

Since 2005, Karp has been involved in K-12 engineering outreach geared toward attracting more and better qualified students into engineering careers and increasing the retention of engineering undergraduate students, and better educating the community about engineering. She has organized high school student summer camps at TTU and has implemented a pipeline of engineering activities for K-12 students during the academic year. She regularly teaches a service-learning introductory engineering course, where first year engineering students mentor elementary and middle school teams participating in a LEGO robotics competition.

Dr. Karp has received several awards for her excellence and innovation in teaching, including: the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Excellence in Engineering Teaching Award (2003 and 2009); the Spencer A. Wells Creativity in Teaching Award, from the Texas Tech Parent Association (2006); the College of Engineering George T. and Gladys Abell Hanger Faculty Teaching Award (2006); and the Butler Distinguished Educator Award (2012). She was a service-learning fellow during the academic year 2009/2010 and served as a mentor for TTU's Service Learning Program in 2010/2011.

  • Bethan Kingsley
  • Graduate Student
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • University of Alberta

Bethan Kingsley is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her goal is to be a community-engaged scholar who improves the health of individuals, particularly those who lack access to services. Kingsley's dissertation uses community-based research (CBR) to address the barriers to physical activity that low-income youth face. A partnership has been formed around the mutual goal of evaluating and improving a national initiative (Everybody gets to play™) through interviews with families and practitioners who are impacted by the initiative. The project also involves a process evaluation to examine the ways in which a community-university partnership can enhance the mobilization of knowledge.

Over the last two years, Kingsley has worked with Sherry Ann Chapman in the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP) at the University of Alberta. Together they wrote a manuscript based on a study that examined rigor in CBR and presented some of these ideas at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference in October 2011 ("Doing Community Based Participatory Research with Emplaced Rigour"). Kingsley has also been involved and continues to be involved in five other research projects that use a CBR approach. These research projects have examined the physical activity experiences of Aboriginal youth, afterschool programs for children, support for individuals with disabilities to engage in experiences of citizenship, a recreation quality assurance program, and the development of a play leadership curriculum.

  • Monica Kowal
  • Graduate Student
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • New Mexico State University

Monica Kowal is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at New Mexico State University and a visiting lecturer in the Core Writing Program, at the University of New Mexico. Her doctoral studies center on service-learning in its many forms and functions, including the institutionalization and sustainability of service‐learning programs in the K-12 sector, curriculum design and implementation, teacher training, program structure and evaluation, and student outcomes. Her dissertation is a heuristic phenomenological study of the experience of building and sustaining a 12‐year-old service‐learning program at a public charter high school that primarily serves immigrant and minority students in the southwestern United States. Kowal is interested in the motivations and deterrents to incorporating service‐learning in first year composition and other first year gateway courses at colleges and universities, and in the transferability of service experiences in students as they transition from high school to college. She has been an educator for nine years, teaching literature and composition at the middle school, high school, and college levels. She served as a service‐learning coordinator at a public secondary school for four years, where she organized and documented service activities for more than 300 high school and middle school students, assessed, evaluated and documented student outcomes in service‐related activities, and organized school‐wide celebrations of student achievement in civic engagement. Kowal's goal is to help to establish school/university relationships that focus on continuing students' commitment to community involvement and social responsibility by offering introductory service‐learning courses in multiple disciplines that continue their proclivities for social action.

  • Abigail Julia Lynch
  • Graduate Student
  • Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Michigan State University

Abigail J. Lynch is a University Distinguished Fellow and a member of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University (MSU). Lynch is currently a doctoral student with a dual major in Fisheries and Wildlife, and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. Additionally, she is enrolled in the Environmental Science and Policy doctoral specialization, and a Certification in College Teaching program. Lynch is committed to pursuing a career that engages science in decision-making and informs stakeholders for more effective governance and management.

Lynch's primary research interests focus on linking fish conservation and management with human systems. Her dissertation research examines the impact of climate change on harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish, the largest commercial fishery in the upper Great Lakes. The end goal of her project is to design a decision-support tool to help decision-makers coordinate lake whitefish conservation efforts and harvest strategies under varying climate regimes to benefit both human and natural systems.

In addition to her dissertation research, Lynch is a communications assistant for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Branch of Communications and Partnerships in the Division of Fisheries, through the Student Career Experience Program. She is also the coordinator of the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife's outreach publication, Spotlight ( Additionally, she co-leads a study abroad program to Scotland and England entitled "Environmental Science, Policy, and Criminology." In these capacities, Lynch promotes engagement with policymakers, stakeholders, students, and the public to ensure informed decision-making and environmental awareness.

  • Kellie E. Mayfield
  • Graduate Student
  • Human Nutrition
  • Michigan State University

Kellie E. Mayfield is a doctoral student in human nutrition (with a focus on community nutrition) as well as a dietetic student in the registered dietitian program at Michigan State University. Before relocating to Michigan, she worked as an analytical chemist and volunteered at the Central Virginia Foodbank, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Richmond, Virginia. Her experiences resulted in the desire to pursue research exploring low-income communities and how they make decisions about the acquisition of food. Her dissertation research project is a mixed-methods, participatory study of the food environment in Flint, Michigan. In this community-based research project she works directly with a community collaborative whose mission is to support Flint residents in growing and accessing healthy food in order to reconnect with the land and one another. Mayfield is interested in the foodways of residents, their experiences, and the multitude of approaches they use to navigate the food environment in the city—an urban post-industrial community suffering from economic decline and disinvestment.

Currently, Mayfield is a teaching assistant for an "Introduction to Nutrition" course and has past experiences as a research assistant on the National Children's Study, and a school and community-based physical activity and nutrition education project called "The Project Fit," in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Following her dietetic internship after her receiving her Ph.D., Mayfield plans on a post-doctoral position in public health nutrition, and a subsequent position at a college or university, incorporating research, teaching, and community engagement.

  • Carrie Menendez
  • Graduate Student
  • Urban Planning and Policy
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

Carrie Menendez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on university-community partnerships relating to land development, as well as the expansive topics of university engagement, negotiation and decision making processes, and theories of place. Through her work as a research assistant at the Great Cities Institute, she has worked in partnership with key public and private institutions to pilot studies that seek to discern university economic impact and engagement practices that are most helpful for both universities and policymakers, and which enable institutions to track progress over time. Through the creation of metrics and the collection of tangible data, these studies have initiated surveys that have gathered narrative data and descriptive statistical data about cohorts of universities nationwide.

Menendez's involvement in the creation of national surveys has led to her dissertation work entitled, "Assessing the Role of Universities as Place-based Institutions: Developing Uniform Metrics of Engagement." The dissertation will develop case studies in five U.S. cities that examine how five public and five private urban research institutions engage in their communities and record and collect data on engagement to determine national strategies for uniform data collection. Menendez aspires to continue her work by establishing a longitudinal study of engagement in an academic setting that will allow her to continue to write, teach, and institute practices of engagement.

  • Quixada Moore-Vissing
  • Graduate Student
  • Education
  • University of New Hampshire

Quixada Moore-Vissing is a Ph.D. student in the Education department at the University of New Hampshire. She studies civic engagement in higher education, with a focus on how universities can build mutually beneficial and sustainable community partnerships. In particular, she is interested in how universities and communities can work collaboratively to find unique solutions to keeping the cost of higher education affordable so that individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to college education. Moore-Vissing holds two master's degrees, one in education from the University of New Hampshire, and another in communication from the University of Illinois. In her communication studies, she examined the political economy of media in relation to American democracy and citizenship.

Moore-Vissing works as a facilitator with the New Hampshire Listens program in the Carsey Institute, where she assists communities in creating conversations on local and statewide issues through a deliberative model. She is a long time affiliate with several nonviolence organizations and works to build bridges between nonviolence and education. She has published several articles on this subject, including in Fellowship magazine and the Encyclopedia of Peace (Oxford University Press). In addition to her studies as a doctoral student, Moore-Vissing works for the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation in their Community Engagement department, where she has conducted over 400 workshops on the subject of college access and financial aid to schools and community organizations across the state of New Hampshire.

  • Stacey Muse
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher Education
  • University of Denver

Stacey Muse is a second year doctoral student in the higher education program at the University of Denver. Her research interests are around the impact of community-based learning on the greater community, and the intersection between community-based learning pedagogies and social justice initiatives. She hopes to someday hold a position that allows her to work with students and community partners while conducting meaningful research that will contribute to social justice work.

With a master's degree in nonprofit management and leadership studies, ten years in the nonprofit sector, and experience in higher education service-learning and leadership programs, Muse brings a unique blend of academic and professional experience to the field. Her scholarly and professional experiences, along with her passion for social justice, are what led her to pursue a Ph.D. in higher education.

  • Jennifer Purcell
  • Graduate Student
  • Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy
  • University of Georgia

Jennifer Purcell is a doctoral student in the University of Georgia's Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy. While completing her coursework, she was employed full-time at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) as an academic advisor and the coordinator of service-learning until January 2012, at which point she continued her employment as a temporary adjunct instructor of Freshman College studies. She is slated to continue teaching part-time in the 2012-2013 academic year at Kennesaw State University within its Department of First-Year Programs, where she hopes to secure a tenure track position upon completing her dissertation in the summer of 2013.

Purcell's involvement in community-based research began when, as an undergraduate, she collected data via field surveys to support the HOPE Revitalization IV Project in Macon, Georgia. She also collected data for over 100 environmental organizations to produce a state directory. As a graduate student, she was the principal investigator for research that examined the value of service-learning in first year student success programs and authored a proposal to include a mandatory service-learning component in GHC's first year seminar. This research also supported the creation of the college's service-learning program.

Purcell is interested in how organizations can increase their capacity for engagement. She seeks to identify mechanisms for implementing the necessary structures for sustained engagement. Ultimately, she hopes to develop an approach for increasing the capacity for engagement that involves institutional and community stakeholders and that can be used by any type of institution regardless of its current level of engagement.

  • Dana Sanchez
  • Assistant Professor
  • Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Oregon State University

Dr. Dana Sanchez is a tenure track assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University (OSU) and serves as the statewide Extension wildlife specialist. Sanchez's position description is unique: Extension education and outreach (50%) and research (25%) components of the position are combined with 25% service in support of broadening participation in the natural resource professions. As an ecologist, Sanchez studies native mammals and their survival, spatial, and demographic responses to changes, both natural and anthropogenic, in their habitats. Thanks to the freedom afforded by her position, she initiated an additional research track to investigate: 1) how to effectively teach hands-on technical skills and foster multicultural competence in online learners; and 2) how we can transform professional cultures to be more welcoming to would-be scientists, managers, policymakers, and resource users from all identities.

Based on a trial offering, Sanchez is developing a multicultural skills course with OSU's Global Learning Initiative and collaborators from Washington State University. She expects formative and summative assessments from the new course to help her discover which specific edu-experiential activities are most impactful in creating personal impetus to shift organizational cultures. Ultimately, Dr. Sanchez wants to document: 1) how members of underrepresented identities experience the educational and professional advancement processes associated with natural resource-STEM fields; and 2) how the "permeability" of these cultures affects the degree to which all potential participants are represented in gaining knowledge, prioritizing research directions, shaping management decisions, and making resource allocations for natural resources in the United States.

  • Marc Schure
  • Graduate Student
  • Public Health
  • Oregon State University

Marc Schure holds master's degrees in adult education and health promotion. He has worked with community members on a variety of public health promotion research projects including community-based obesity prevention, environmental health in residential environments, and improving trajectories for community health and well-being. Schure also served as a health promotion specialist at the local public health level, actively engaging with community members to promote better community health outcomes. Currently, Schure is working as a research assistant at Oregon State University while pursuing a doctoral degree in public health, with an emphasis on healthy aging. His research interests include: resilience in older adults; the role of environment on mobility and physical functioning; and community-based health promotion programs aimed at improving the quality of life for older adults.

Past and present professional affiliations include: the American Public Health Association; Society for Prevention Research; and the Gerontological Society of America. Schure actively participates in two campus-wide initiatives: the Student Evaluation of Teaching Task Force; and Smoke-Free Oregon State University. He is expected to graduate with a Ph.D. in public health in 2013. Immediate career goals include the ascertainment of his doctoral degree, followed by a post-doctoral research position. Following this, Schure would like to assume a faculty-track position with a strong emphasis on community-based research.