Campus Compact highlights outstanding community engagement professionals in Credentialing Program 

September 3, 2020

As Campus Compact continues to grow and expand its Community Engagement Professional Credentialing (CEP) Program, we see value in sharing stories and experiences of those who participate in the program. To that end, we selected two recent micro-credential earners to interview based on their exceptional work in their respective fields, their unique perspectives, and the high quality of their micro-credential submissions. Please take some time to read about them, their accomplishments, and what they have to say about the Credentialing Program!  Congratulations David and Jamilah!

Meet Jamilah (Jamie) Ducar

As the Director of Community Engagement at the University of Pittsburgh, Jamie leads University efforts and interactions with key neighborhood constituencies; engages, educates and encourages students to “Be A Good Neighbor” in off-campus contexts; and supports campus-wide infrastructure for the University of Pittsburgh’s identity as an engaged institution.

Q: Tell us a bit about the different ways that you’ve been involved with the broader Campus Compact community and the credentialing program. 

A: I first learned about Campus Compact pretty quickly when I joined Pitt; the webinars and professional development resources helped me to better understand how others who worked on similarly positioned teams at other institutions partnered with communities and built relationships. As my role has changed, so has my relationship with the Compact. I was thrilled to be one of the first people to hold the initial micro-credential and plan to pursue the full CEP certification. I’ve also been able to be part of the Compact20 national conference through participating on a panel hosted by the Place Based Justice Network. As a learner-facilitator, I’ve been able to pull together a local, informal Community of Practice that met over the summer to unpack the competencies associated with the Community Engagement Fundamentals micro-credential. I hope to work with Compact of PA & NY to activate more opportunities for southwest Pennsylvania CEPs to be in community with each other. 

Q: What drew you to pursue a micro-credential?

A: I’ve always been interested in showing how I engage with the roles I take on with both depth and breadth through supplementary credentials and courses. The framework of Compact’s professional micro-credentials fits my needs as a mid-career entrant to higher education community engagement. I am able to reflect on the full breadth of my experiences and build an action plan that is relevant to my place of practice and scholarly journey. 

Q: In what ways do you believe that the Credentialing Program has benefited you? 

A: The Credentialing Program has given me a pathway to stay refreshed in my practice and purpose. Knowing that I’ll be able to continue to attend to my professional development with ongoing engagement with a multitude of the competencies across micro-credentials is reassuring.

Q: What do you see as your greatest strength as a CEP?

A: I think my greatest strength as a CEP is my orientation towards wanting to be part of a supportive community. My role has expanded and shifted significantly over the past 3 years, and I truly believe a significant part of my success is my willingness to approach others with humility and authenticity to co-create spaces that can advance community engagement. 

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect for you in the work that you are doing? What are you doing to overcome this challenge?

A: The most challenging aspect for me in the work that I’m doing is understanding the pace and permissions necessary to shape, encourage, and distribute change throughout a large organization. Even the best ideas need a coalition of voices and efforts coming together and a leader to champion them. I am thankful to have an expert like Dr. Lina Dostilio as a supervisor and colleague to help me better sharpen my professional processes and consider the full breadth of ways I can work strategically to advance engagement at Pitt. 

Q: Would you recommend the CEP Credentialing Program? To whom would you recommend it?

A: I would highly recommend the credentialing program – to grad students interested in the field of outreach & engagement, CEP’s in the first 5 years of their career (especially at institutions that have received the Carnegie Classification) , those that have been in their positions for 10 years or more, and to community organization staff/leadership that are expected to partner closely with higher education institutions.

 


Meet David B. Sacks

David Sacks is a professor of Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Washington, DC. His career as a clinical psychologist is centered on providing psychotherapy to individuals, families, and groups; and supervising and training students as they develop into professional practitioners.

Q: What drew you to pursue a micro-credential with Campus Compact? Tell us a bit about the different ways that you’ve been involved with the credentialing program.

A: I became interested in earning a micro-credential because I got very concerned about the future of American democracy during the 2016 election season after how polarizing the political climate had become. Pursuing the micro-credential, for me, was about understanding how universities can remain relevant and make a difference in promoting the survival of democracy, especially educating students to be active citizens. Campus Compact has been involved in that for years. The micro-credential process helped me learn about all the different ways in which universities do that work.

I started with the Community Engagement Fundamentals micro-credential in order to learn how to support community engagement work. I can incorporate the community engagement principles and practices that I reflected on in my micro-credential into my work as a faculty member. 

During my application period for my micro-credential, I was fortunate to participate in a Community of Practice with community engagement practitioners from a dozen different universities across the country. We met monthly over Zoom to discuss the different competencies practitioners need and how they are related to what we were doing in our various institutions. I began to understand more about how community engagement professionals play many roles in their university communities and orchestrate all sorts of community activities. I learned how CEPs interact with university administration, faculty, students, and community partners, and advocate for the university to increase its alignment with serving communities. As someone who has not held a formal role as a CEP, the Community of Practice was invaluable. 

Q: In what ways do you believe that the Credentialing Program has benefited you? 

A: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has service and community among its core values. As a faculty member, I see my role as developing a service-learning orientation into my courses and promoting research that collaborates with community partners. 

For instance, I’ve designed a new course about the psychology of pandemics. The pandemic has had a psychological impact on everyone and the science of psychology needs to be applied in service to these different communities. I hope to help students apply psychological concepts in community settings through training them to provide workshops to a range of community groups. 

I am also organizing a campus campaign to maximize voter registration, get people better informed on issues, and promote participation in voting by students, faculty, and staff. In this effort, I am inspired by the example of CEPs on campuses nationwide who are conducting similar campaigns.

Q: What do you see as your greatest strength as a CEP?

A: I have experience as a clinical psychology faculty member, and I have also been a clinical training director. As a training director, I arranged practicum and internship placements for students in clinics, prisons, schools, hospitals, and counseling centers. As a result, I am able to see how different institutions work as partners. Students can bring skills and knowledge from the classroom to the community, and also bring concerns and priorities from communities into the classroom. This helps the university be of greater service to the community. Being a part of the credentialing program has helped me see many more ways to do that.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect for you in the work that you are doing? What are you doing to overcome this challenge?

A: My greatest challenge is acting as an organizer and mobilizer of people, because these are skills not traditionally taught within the classroom. Over time, I am learning how to be more effective in getting people involved, motivated, and mobilized.

It is so important to continue to practice leading groups. I participate locally and nationally with Living Room Conversations, Braver Angels, and other organizations working to bring people together, by leading and participating in conversations between diverse individuals on topics such as immigration, religion, and race. As a professor, I have found it to be of critical importance to lead students by example, putting on the table potentially controversial topics to make them safer and more normal for everyone to discuss. Psychologists-in-training may  sometimes be more willing to engage in these conversations than students in general, due to the nature of the field. As a community engagement professional, I want to encourage these conversations, and increase awareness among all students in higher education.

Q: Would you recommend the credentialing program? Who would you recommend the program to?

A: Yes, definitely! I would especially recommend it to Community Engagement Professionals. In a Community of Practice, you can talk to others from different universities about common problems and get a different perspective. I would also recommend it to faculty members and university administrators, because community engagement is the business of the whole university, and everyone needs to understand it better. The more universities are engaged with their communities in real reciprocal partnerships, the more highly communities will value them.


Learn more about the Community Engagement Professional Credentialing Program at credential.compact.org.

Special thanks to Carina Sandoval and Vanessa Fajardo, Campus Compact summer interns from Brown University, for their work on this blog post.

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