AmeriCorps Member Spotlight – Adrienne Theune

August 9, 2021

Adrienne Theune serves as an AmeriCorps member with Campus Compact VISTA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin.

Tell us a bit about your project!
My role is to build capacity for an enhanced liaison and partnership support model. The work mostly focuses on streamlining and implementing processes to identify partner priorities and working to create effective systems to match partner needs with university resources. One project I’ve done throughout the year is creating an intake process and form regarding community members/organizations’ requests. Additionally, this establishes a flow of communication between departments. Another example is the development and integration of  Salesforce which is a customer relationship management tool. This allows the university to clearly map out and understand the bigger picture of their partnership impact and connections with community members across campus. This database also houses the documentation of communication between departments and entire project efforts. 

What have you learned from your AmeriCorps VISTA service?
I’ve learned to accept that perfectionism isn’t the answer and centering community partners is key. I read in an article (I forgot the title) but it mentioned that perfectionism does not equate to excellence. Like many jobs, it is easy to get caught in the fear of failure and desire to avoid negatively impacting the communities that you are aiming to serve. Understandably acknowledging the concept of intent vs impact is important in these situations as well. I’ve learned it is important to frequently engage and have community partners be part of the decision-making process. Along with this note, it’s important to investigate and critically point out implicit biases you have or people have when building capacity and processes. What type of organizations tends to have partnerships with the university? What are the types of projects being done? Do they service the university more? To what degree are these relationships reciprocal/beneficial to both groups?

What advice would you give to a new AmeriCorps VISTA?
Even with my various life and work experience and passion for the project I oversaw in my role  I still felt the imposter syndrome at times.  I’d be working with people with higher leadership titles or those who have much more experience in the higher education and community development field in general. It was definitely daunting and overwhelming at first when navigating this new space.

With that being said I would advise new members to embrace the asset mindset. I encourage you to acknowledge and embrace your own wisdom and fresh perspectives.  It’s okay if you make a mistake along the way or ask for support, we are all learning.  Along these lines, be intentional with the time you have and soak in the opportunities your site provides you (such as professional development workshops, conventions or webinars, etc.)

What is your proudest achievement from your time with AmeriCorps VISTA?
One of the most fulfilling and proudest moments of my time as an AmeriCorps member was being able to participate and help facilitate a community-based course. In this independent course, students focused on specific efforts requested by non-profit organizations to expand operational capacity. A couple of deliverables students developed included resources databases, position descriptions and handbooks, communications materials and plans, and more. During the final celebration, a couple of community members attended and shared their experiences and lessons learned. It was so heartwarming to hear all of the praise students received for their growth and contributions.

Overall, I am grateful to have this role. Through many conversations with staff across various departments on campus, the tendency of bureaucracy does slow down many initiatives and projects.

adrienne theune

Adrienne Theune

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