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Participant Biographies

2007 Participant Biographies

  • Jessica Bagdonis
  • Graduate Student
  • Agricultural and Extension Education
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Prior to attending Penn State, Jessica Bagdonis was a senior program officer at the International Research and Exchanges Board in Washington, D.C., where she managed educational outreach programs in the independent states of the former Soviet Union. Her research focuses on globalization and agricultural knowledge transfer and public scholarship in agricultural sciences. She received funding from the Penn State Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy to develop an online directory that connects students with community-based research opportunities throughout Pennsylvania. Bagdonis holds a M.S. in rural sociology from Penn State University and a B.A. in law & society and Russian studies from American University.

  • Pam Page Carpenter
  • K-12 Education Specialist
  • North Carolina Solar Center
  • North Carolina State University

Dr. Pam Page Carpenter serves as the K-12 education specialist at the North Carolina Solar Center in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. Her position involves curriculum development, program planning and evaluation, teacher training, outreach, and research and publications in education. Dr. Carpenter has been in education for over ten years as faculty teaching in higher education along with curriculum development and instructional design. She holds an Ed.D. in technology education with a minor in curriculum and instruction from North Carolina State University. Carpenter’s research focuses on immersive online educational technologies, alternative transportation technologies, and workforce development in automotive industries. As an advocate of environmental issues with a passion for education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, along with her experience as an instructor and curriculum developer, Dr. Carpenter applies her relevant background to serve as a guide in the development and expansion of existing K-12 programs statewide and additional programs in renewable energy and clean transportation to serve the students and teachers in North Carolina schools.

  • Jeri Childers
  • Director
  • Outreach Program Development
  • Virginia Technological University

Jeri L. Childers is the director of Outreach Program Development at Virginia Technological University. She received her doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2004, she worked for The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her administrative and research interests include organization and community development, continuing professional education, leadership in higher education, university engagement, service learning, and campus-community partnerships. She launched the first Outreach Scholarship at Penn State in 1999, serving as the conference chair until 2004. Childers currently serves as the chair of the University of Continuing Education Association (UCEA) Outreach and Engagement Community of Practice, and is responsible for launching an online database of Promising Practices in Engagement. This database is co-sponsored by UCEA, ACHE, and HENCE.

  • Kathleen Costello
  • Graduate Student
  • Anthropology
  • Indiana University, Bloomington

Kathleen Costello is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her dissertation research is a study of a neighborhood network in Glasgow, Scotland that was established to support political asylum seekers as their cases are evaluated by the British government. Costello's other research interests include cultural memory and the anthropology of human rights. She is interested in the theoretical and practical issues related to engaging in anthropology as activism. This semester, she is teaching a field methods lab course as a service learning class at IUB.

  • April S. Grecho
  • Graduate Student
  • Natural Resources
  • North Carolina State University

April S. Grecho is a Ph.D. candidate within the NCSU College of Natural Resources. She began her academic career at the University of New Hampshire, earning a B.A. in anthropology. Wanting to make a stronger connection between humans and resource use, she went on to achieve an M.S. in environmental resources from Arizona State University, and has volunteered with the Forest Service and National Park Service. Grecho's current research project focuses on the development of a collaborative framework of criteria and indicators for assessment of higher education programs emphasizing "sustainability." She believes that the combination of coursework, experiential learning, and outreach will determine the most effective programs that will lead students to make changes in their own lives and communities.

  • Amy Hilgendorf
  • Graduate Student
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison

Originally a secondary school teacher, Amy Hilgendorf rediscovered academia after working with the University of Wisconsin-Extension as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer. There Hilgendorf interacted with faculty who focused daily on bridging knowledge and application to effect positive social change. She entered graduate school with aspirations of a career that blends the best of research and outreach. She studies the interactions of families and schools and hopes to work with educators to create better environments that are supportive of all students' success. Hilgendorf has participated in several action research projects and is active on campus and in the community.

  • Elizabeth Hudson
  • Graduate Student
  • Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education
  • University of Michigan

Elizabeth Hudson is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. Her area of research is the relationship between higher education and society; she focuses on sustainability and strength of community engagement relationships. Currently she serves as a research assistant for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, where she is working on the Access to Democracy project, the Tenure Team Initiative, and other community organizing projects. Prior to her doctoral work, she worked as an adjunct faculty member teaching communication research methods at Salem State College. She completed an M.A. in communication at the University of Colorado.

  • Stephanie Jones
  • Extension Associate
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension
  • North Carolina State University

Stephanie Jones has worked with North Carolina Cooperative Extension as an extension parenting educator and now as an extension associate at NC State University. She received her master's in human development and family studies with a concentration in family life and parent education in 2007. Currently she is responsible for implementing a conceptual model for improving school success among middle school aged youth, and overseeing the graduate certificate in family life education. She provides support to the departmental teaching faculty involved in the master's degree in human development and family studies program.

  • Cheryl Lloyd
  • Graduate Student
  • Leadership Studies Program
  • North Carolina A&T

Cheryl Lloyd is a second year doctoral student in the North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University Leadership Studies program. Her research interest focuses on the organizational implications of change on cooperative extension in expanded roles of engagement and outreach in urbanized environments. As state leader for urban programs at North Carolina State University, Lloyd coordinates campus and field resources to better serve North Carolina's urban residents as a community partner, educator and researcher. Her career included roles as urban county extension director, department head, and extension educator. She has degrees in family and consumer science education.

  • Lisa Marshall
  • Director of Outreach Programs
  • Department of Nuclear Engineering
  • North Carolina State University

In Fall 2001, Lisa Marshall became the director of outreach programs for the department of nuclear engineering at North Carolina State University. Her research interests lie in enrollment management and engineering education. She is a geography of science doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her emphasis is on the U.S. nuclear renaissance and the role of universities. Before joining NC State University, she worked in enrollment management for several years at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

  • Nancy Matheny
  • University of Nevada

Nancy Matheny enjoyed a long career as a performer for special events and corporate rollouts. Her teaching career began accidentally as a graduate student. It soon became apparent that although she loved teaching entertainment and special event management courses, by incorporating community driven projects into a entertainment and special events model she could open her students' eyes to the abundant rewards that making a difference in the lives and structures of the community in which one lives can bring. Matheny remains committed to broadening her understanding of community engagement and bringing fresh ideas to the classroom.

  • Roberta O'Connell
  • Program Administrator
  • Division of Economic and Community Outreach
  • Towson University

As the program administrator for the division of economic and community outreach at Towson University, Roberta O'Connell is responsible for coordinating numerous outreach and external relations efforts. She oversees several major initiatives, including the administrative and operational functions for the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a national organization of university presidents. She also serves as a key advisor to the Provost. Prior to working at TU, O'Connell coordinated community outreach initiatives for the President of San Diego State University. Additionally, she is in the final stages of finishing a master’s degree in higher education policy from San Diego State University.

  • Annalisa Raymer
  • Post Doctoral Faculty
  • Center for Community Engagement & Learning
  • University of Alaska-Anchorage

Annalisa Raymer worked in participatory civic leadership development in Appalachia for about a dozen years before taking a sabbatical from practice in order to go back to school. At Cornell University she completed a master's degree in rural and community development and a doctorate in the College of Human Ecology. She also holds an M.L.S. in library science from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in English literature from Berea College. Raymer's mission is to promote public placemaking as a means of cultivating public life. She is an avid practitioner of action research and currently teaches civic engagement at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

  • Victoria Steel
  • Higher Education Administration
  • University of Missouri, Columbia

Victoria Steel has held a variety of positions in higher education administration, including: international programs, non-traditional student services, and distance and continuing education. Currently she is in the field of sponsored programs, where external funding for projects indicates a need not being met and can influence institutional behavior regarding social mission. Steel has become interested in how institutions of higher education "behave" as corporate citizens and the influence they have on their students (and personnel) in terms of fostering service and engagement. She is particularly interested in the language that each institution develops to communicate their community engagement and outreach activities.

  • Kelley Strawn
  • Assistant Professor
  • Sociology
  • Willamette University

Kelly Strawn is a political sociologist interested in collective action, protest, and change in Mexico. Her research focuses on protest events nationwide in Mexico as a vehicle to understand how economic and political reforms over the past two decades have reshaped Mexican society. She has no immediate experience with community engagement research. As Strawn is part of a small, liberal arts community located across the street from Oregon’s state capitol building, her interest in engagement research stems from her college's goal to develop connections between their undergraduates and the political community through engaged research.

  • Courtney Thornton
  • Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Higher Education Administration
  • North Carolina State University

Courtney H. Thornton is a postdoctoral researcher in higher education administration at North Carolina State University. She has studied the role of institutional cultures in students' development as responsible citizens, faculty socialization and resource allocations for public service. Her work has appeared in the Journal of College Student Development and the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and is forthcoming in Research in Higher Education. Dr. Thornton also collaborates extensively with the NC State Office of Extension, Engagement and Economic Development, most recently via the Task Force for the Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement.

  • Mark Wilson
  • Assistant Director
  • Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities
  • Auburn University

Dr. Mark Wilson is assistant director for the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, the dedicated outreach unit for the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. Having recently graduated with a doctorate in history from Auburn University, he is interested in history and public memory as a tool for community development and civic engagement. One current research project, in cooperation with two artists-in-residence in public schools in a small, fishing village in south Alabama, explores the connection between public memory of education and the potential for oral history projects to reconnect citizens to community discussion and action related to public education.