Announcing the 2023-2024 Engaged Scholars

We're pleased to announce the 14 faculty and community engagement professionals who make up the 2023-2024 cohort of the Engaged Scholars Initiative.

Campus Compact this week announced the 14 faculty and staff selected as the 2023-2024 cohort of Engaged Scholars as part of its Engaged Scholars Initiative. The Engaged Scholars Initiative is a year-long collaborative learning and leadership program. Each cohort consists of a diverse group of early-career faculty and staff who are equipped to lead equity-focused change at their institution and in communities.

Scholars were nominated by institutional leaders and were selected based on their commitment to centering equity in their civic and community engagement work. Members of the cohort hold a wide variety of roles on their campuses, but each has a demonstrated history of effective civic and community engagement work. These highly qualified scholars come from Campus Compact member institutions across the country, representing 13 institutions from 11 states.

Over the course of the academic year, Engaged Scholars will participate in professional development, virtual learning opportunities, retreats, and individual support through mentoring and coaching. The aim of the program is to strengthen individual and collective scholarship, research, and impact.

“I have had the pleasure of working with several cohorts of the Engaged Scholars Initiative, and I am excited to welcome the practitioner-scholars we accepted into this year's program,” said Nicole Springer, Director of Institutional Capacity Building at Campus Compact. “I can't wait for the group to spend time at our partner institutions - University of Nebraska - Omaha and Swarthmore College - to see how community-engaged scholarship shows up on different campuses. They will have an incredible year of combining connection and content while focusing on centering equity in our work.”

The Engaged Scholars Initiative is led by Campus Compact and is offered in partnership with the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College and the Office of Engagement at the University of Nebraska - Omaha. The Lang Center at Swarthmore College and The Office of Engagement at the University of Nebraska - Omaha are strategic partners whose thought leadership, in-kind staffing, and financial support are critical to the success of the program. 

Read more about the Engaged Scholars Initiative on the Campus Compact website at

2023-2024 Engaged Scholars:

Blayne McDonald | Agnes Scott College

Blayne McDonald is the Assistant Director for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in the Gué Pardue Hudson Center for Leadership, Engagement and Service at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. She completed a psychology degree in 2015 and a Master’s in Social Work in 2019, both from the University of Georgia (UGA). During her MSW, she served in the Office of Service-Learning at UGA as a graduate assistant to tell students’ stories in serving their community. After graduating, she held positions with nonprofits and local government serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. In these roles she gained experience in nonprofit collaboration and consulting, volunteer and project management and grant writing. She returned to higher education in 2022 to start working with students again in service and civic engagement. She loves working at Agnes Scott to empower young people to plug into their community to begin what she hopes is lifelong service-learning and democratic engagement.   In her spare time she enjoys fishing, hiking, kayaking and going camping with her wife and fur babies Annie and Sebastian.

Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra | University of Mississippi

Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra is from Valencia, Spain. She is a professor of Hispanic Cultural Studies at the University of Mississippi. She earned her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. As a teacher, she seeks to foster a connection between the university and the Hispanic community in Oxford, MS. In her research, she explores feminist themes in the works of women writers, filmmakers, and visual artists in contemporary Spain. In particular, romantic love and domestic work. Her first book came out in 2020: Masculinities in Crisis and Practices of Feminist Resistance.

Danyel Addes | Colorado State University

Danyel did her graduate work at the University of Georgia in Anthropology, Conservation Ecology, and Sustainable Development, and draws on anthropological, ecological and community organizing frameworks to further cultures of engagement in community and university settings. She was a City Year Boston Corps member and has designed and implemented community-based, high-impact, service-learning, and community-engaged learning programs for college students at UMass Amherst, Georgia Southern University, and in her current role at Colorado State University. Before working at CSU, she worked at the 92nd Street Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact, expanding 92Y’s civic engagement initiatives to communities across the country and around the world. Her work focuses on experiential learning grounded in critical pedagogy, participatory practices, dialogue and deliberation, and embodied social justice and resilience practices.

Florencia Rojo | Colorado College

Florencia Rojo is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Colorado College. She completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. Informed by her training as a medical sociologist and her community work with immigrant families, her primary areas of teaching-scholarship are immigration, health inequalities, violence, and community-based research. In each intersecting domain, she considers how research can be used to challenge dominant power relations. She works with academics and non-academics, traditional and lay experts alike, as research collaborators. Her teaching approach bridges scholarship and social justice work through critical community-engaged pedagogies. She serves on the Colorado College Collaborative for Community Engagement Advisory Board. In 2022, she co-founded and launched Participatory Action Research Team for Youth (PARTY) in partnership with Food to Power, a local food justice organization. PARTY is a paid opportunity for youth 14-19 from Colorado Springs to build community, learn about the food system, food justice, community-based research, and take action.

Jody Joyner | Swarthmore College

Jody Joyner is an interdisciplinary artist and an Assistant Professor of Art at Swarthmore College. She received her M.F.A. from Yale University and her B.A. from Colorado College. Jody has recently exhibited work at venues such as Franconia Sculpture Park (Minneapolis, MN), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), and Modest Common (Los Angeles, CA). She is the recipient of multiple grants, awards, and residencies including SOMA Summer (CDMX), Mountain School (Los Angeles, CA), the Al Held Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, and the Josef Albers Traveling Fellowship.

In relation to Engaged Scholarship, Joyner is interested in how collective authorship between artists, community partners, and students can foster transformative experiences for all involved. She is currently working on a collaborative, site specific project called House of the Living.

Kamryn Warren | University of Northern Iowa

Kamryn Warren currently serves as an Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls Iowa.  In her role as professor she teaches a variety of Sociology courses on human rights, refugees and humanitarianism, and qualitative research methods.  She is passionate about community engaged research and currently works with the Iowa Movement for Migrant Justice conducting research on immigration narratives and social change.   Broadly her research areas attend to the lived experiences of individuals navigating the bureaucracy of forced migration and the sentiment of host societies on immigrant and refugee newcomers.  As a first generation Ph.D. Kamryn has a passion for engaging with students and serving as a mentor and advisor for other first gen folks navigating higher education.    As an undergraduate student at Middle Tennessee State University she discovered her interests and passion around issues of social justice related to immigrant and refugee rights as an intern at Catholic Charities in Nashville.  During her graduate studies in sociology and human rights at the University of Connecticut she pursued research in refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. and a long term ethnographic study of Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal which was supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Association.   As a junior faculty member at UNI Kamryn is dedicated to maintaining an active community based research agenda and is always adopting and adapting the latest in innovative pedagogical approaches. She serves her campus and community in creative and innovative ways that support building relationships between institutions of higher education and community in ways that serve the public good. 

Kristina Stamatis | University of Nebraska - Omaha
Dr. Kristina M. Stamatis is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her research explores possibilities for dismantling oppressive systems through community engagement, identity development, and storytelling in formal and informal learning spaces. Prior to completing her PhD at the University of Colorado Boulder in Learning Sciences and Human Development, Kristina was a high school English teacher and reading specialist. She has co-designed storytelling practices with other educators throughout her career, most recently collaborating with colleagues at the Denver Writing Project to reimagine the possibilities for intergenerational storytelling in schools. Her work has appeared in the Reading Research Quarterly, Teaching and Teacher Education, and The New Educator.
Lauren Shinholster | Mercer University

Lauren Shinholster is the associate director of engaged learning at Mercer University. As a key member of Mercer’s Center for Engaged Learning team, Lauren supports high-impact practices with a particular focus on service-learning courses and Research That Reaches Out, a blended practice of service and research.   Prior to her arrival at Mercer, Lauren served as a community educator for the Safe Routes to School program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Arriving at Mercer in 2017, Lauren previously served as coordinator of community engagement, a role that bridged student affairs and academic life through mentorship and oversight of student-led service and civic engagement programs. In her current role, Lauren leads initiatives that facilitate equity-centered teaching and service partnerships. Lauren holds a Master of Public Health degree in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Spelman College. 

Lucas Diaz | Tulane University

Lucas is a Dominican-born immigrant who has lived in the New Orleans area since the 1970s. He received a BA from Loyola University New Orleans, an MFA from the University of New Orleans Writing Workshop, and a PhD in Sociology from Tulane University’s City, Culture, and Community program. Lucas is the father of two and when not working on community-based projects or academic research, he attempts to work on creative writing projects.   Since 2000, Lucas has worked in non-profit management, community engagement and organizing, government-based public participation, sociological research, leadership development, program design, implementation & management, writing and non-profit fundraising.    As the co-founder and inaugural executive director of Puentes New Orleans from 2007 to 2011, a New Orleans based non-profit organization, Lucas developed an independent, viable local institution that focused on community development. While at Puentes, Lucas designed and implemented various initiatives, including a Spanish language first-time homebuyer program, a voter registration program, a criminal justice effort aimed at increasing law enforcement cooperation in helping newcomer communities feel safe, and a civic leadership fellowship.    As the first director of the Mayor's Neighborhood Engagement Office for the City of New Orleans from 2011 to 2013, Lucas designed and implemented the city's first-ever public participation office. During his time in City Hall, Lucas trained staff, wrote public participation policies, and designed community engagement programs that are still operating in 2023.   During his years as a doctoral candidate between 2013 and 2022, Lucas consulted in community-engaged initiatives with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, the Foundation for Louisiana, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, and HousingLOUISIANA. Currently Lucas teaches sociology and is the Program Manager for the Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship at Tulane University.

Maranda Ward | The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Dr. Maranda C. Ward is an Assistant Professor and Director of Equity in the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In this role, she designs, evaluates, and teaches health equity curriculum for undergraduate students that integrates her #EquityMatters podcast. Her teaching excellence was recognized with the highest teaching honor at GW- the 2021 Morton A. Bender Teaching award. Dr. Ward is an expert in advancing anti-racism efforts within health sciences education and in designing curricula to enable students and faculty to competently promote health and racial equity in practice. Her research focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and antiracism educational interventions as well as stakeholder-engaged community-focused studies on HIV, Black women's health, and youth identity. As a member of the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR), she is the principal investigator on Two in One: HIV and COVID Screening & Testing Model that allows her to lead national research-based educational intervention for primary care practitioners to routinize screening and testing HIV, PrEP, and the COVID vaccine. This research will lead to a set of policy recommendations for overall practice-based changes and culturally responsive messaging for racial, ethnic, sexual and gender minoritized patients. She is also skilled in the application of participatory action research methods. When she is not teaching or serving on-campus, she is engaged in DC in a range of capacities. For instance, she is on the board of trustees for the Washington School for Girls and founding board member of Girls Rock DC. She also serves on the Sibley Memorial Hospital & Johns Hopkins Medicine advisory board for wellness projects in wards 7 and 8. The DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, appointed her to fill an advisory board seat on the Mayor's Commission on Health Equity.  

Paige Begley | Colby College

Paige Begley (she/her) is an outdoor and travel enthusiast. After working in K-12 education in Portland, OR and Boston, Paige returned to her home state of Maine to work in higher education with a focus on community engagement. She currently serves as the Associate Director of Civic Engagement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. While at Colby, Paige has supported multiple civic engagement initiatives including development of the college’s first living-learning community and advancement of student-led civic engagement groups including the college’s largest civic engagement cohort, a youth mentoring initiative with over 300 members. In 2017, Paige received a Master of Education degree concentrating in community engagement from the Winston School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College. She is passionate about empowering students to become leaders in their communities and fostering sustainable and reciprocal community partnerships. When not engaging with community partners and students at Colby, Paige likes to spend time outside with her family enjoying all four seasons in Maine!

Pratibha Raghunandan | Brown University

Pratibha Raghunandan is a Research Engineer at Brown University. She received a PhD and Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. She is a recipient of teaching awards and has experience in mentoring K-12 students in computational engineering. Her work also focuses on curriculum development for engineering and data science, and exploration of educational pathways for enhanced community engagement.

Ronald Berkowsky | California State University - Channel Islands

Ronald W. Berkowsky is an Assistant Professor in the Health Sciences Program at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI). Ron earned his PhD in Medical Sociology (along with a Certificate in Gerontology) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he previously worked at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Center on Aging prior to joining the faculty at CSUCI in 2018. His research has primarily examined the health and social impacts of technology use among older adults as well the various macro- and micro-level barriers to successful use (i.e., the “digital divide”). More recently, Ron has engaged in community-based scholarship through collaborations with Ventura County-based nonprofits to identify and address local health- and healthcare-based elder issues, including investigating the benefits and challenges of volunteer caregiving and investigating issues surrounding transgender and non-binary healthcare through the life course. He currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging representing and advocating on behalf of LGBTQ+ older adults, and he also currently serves on the Steering Committee for the LGBT+ Aging Coalition of Ventura County. Ron is committed to scholarship, teaching, and service that promotes age-inclusiveness, utilizes an elder justice framework, and addresses the various needs of this increasingly growing and diversifying population.

Sunah Chung | University of Northern Iowa 

Sunah Chung (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on Literacy Education at University of Northern Iowa. A former high school English teacher and program coordinator for invention and scholarship for children and youth in South Korea, Dr. Chung trained as a researcher of language, literacy, and culture at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work examines children’s nonfiction literature and literacy practices in diverse learning spaces. She examines nonfiction picturebooks’ potential biases, and adult readers’ responses as gatekeepers to picturebooks about indigenous boarding school experiences. Her study about biographies of women also emphasizes the roles of biographies in showing female models to children. With her Asian, female, and non-US citizen educator and researcher backgrounds, she plans to work with multilingual immigrants’ responses to nonfiction literature to enhance their literacy development and content knowledge. Dr. Chung is currently directing UNI America Reads Book Club and serves on the International Literacy Association’s children’s book award committee. Dr. Chung teaches courses in teacher preparation programs to enhance pre-service and in-service teachers’ awareness of diversity and inclusion through assessment and evaluation of literacy, and early literacy teaching methods courses in the white-dominant community.