Center for Community Engagement

Advisory Board Bios

John E. Abele ‘59


Mr. Abele is a Co-founder and Director of Boston Scientific Corporation, a pioneer and leader in the field of less  invasive medicine. He holds numerous patents and has published and lectured extensively on the technology of various medical devices and on the technical, social, economic, and political trends and issues affecting healthcare. Mr. Abele is also the owner of the Kingbridge Centre and Institute, a conference center in Ontario, Canada, that provides special services and research to businesses, academia and government. He was President of Medi-tech, Inc. from 1970 to 1983, and prior to that served in sales, technical and general management positions for Advanced Instruments, Inc. Mr. Abele is the Vice-Chairman of the Board of the F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Foundation. His major interests are science literacy for children, education, and the process by which new technology is invented, developed, and introduced to society.  He is also a member of numerous not-for-profit boards. The Abele family’s Argosy Foundation made the philanthropic investment that was used to launch the Center for Community Engagement.

Nazir Ahmad ‘82


Nazir Ahmad is President of GivingWorks. GivingWorks is a company that provides strategic and management counsel to public service organizations to help them maximize their social impact. Prior to launching his company, Mr. Ahmad was a senior partner and practice leader at Strategic Decisions Group, advising global automotive, technology, financial services, and media companies. He has founded and served on boards of several national and international organizations, and speaks incisively on the strategic choices facing business, philanthropic, and other public service enterprises. Since 2000, he has advised the World Bank on issues of organizational strategy and effectiveness, risk management, resource management, communications, and capacity building. He has also advised the World Bank on its strategies in health, education, disability, and investment promotion. After graduating from Amherst, Mr. Ahmad earned an MA and MBA from Stanford University.

Pamela Allyn ‘84


Pam Allyn is the Executive Director of LitLife. She is also the Founding Director of Books for Boys, a literacy initiative at the Children's Village, a residential treatment center and school for at risk boys ages 6-21. Pam is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her tireless efforts to bring books, literacy and a love of reading to underserved populations, including the James Patterson Page Turner Award, a Disney Points of Light Foundation Award, and a Legacy of Service Award from The Children’s Village in May 2007. She also is a board member of Global Action for Children. After graduating from Amherst College, Pam received an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. For ten years, Pam enjoyed wonderful learning and leadership opportunities at the Columbia University Reading and Writing Project, first as a staff developer, and then as Director of Funded Projects. Her first professional book, The Complete 4: How to Teach Reading and Writing Through Daily Lessons, Monthly Units and Yearlong Calendars, was published in 2007.

Daniel Alter '13


Daniel Alter is a sophomore from Winnetka, Illinois.  On September 11-12, 2008, Daniel attended the ServiceNation Summit in New York, which sprung his passion for service and inspired him to get involved with the CCE.  After his freshman year, which he spent tutoring with the Center for New Americans, working as a Community Engagement Leader, and rowing on the Amherst crew team, Daniel took a year off from college and committed to a year of national service.  He spent the 2009-2010 school year working with City Year in Washington, DC, serving full-time as a tutor, mentor and role model to children at Malcolm X Elementary School, one of the lowest-performing schools in the district.  Daniel returns to Amherst as an advocate for service and education.  He currently serves as the Athletics Liaison in the Community Engagement Leaders program.

Aliza Ansell

Aliza Ansell, director of the Holyoke Community College Adult Learning Center (HCC/ALC) in Holyoke, Mass., is a visionary leader in the field of adult basic education. She is committed to providing adults returning to school with opportunities similar to the opportunities students receive at private institutions: small classrooms, inspiring and engaged teachers, and one-on-one support. An advocate of the power of community, she has forged partnerships with Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and NASA to enrich the learning and cultural experience of her adult students and to promote community-based learning projects, fellowships and research opportunities for college students. The HCC/ALC has been recognized by Massachusetts as an exemplary program with best practices in math, science and reading/writing support. Ms. Ansell brings more than 20 years of experience in professional development, cultural event and conference planning, theater program development, and wellness training to her work in adult education. Her clients have included Fidelity Investments, the Massachusetts Department of Health, and the Veterans Medical Center, where she worked with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ms. Ansell enjoys hiking and biking, and in 2007, she bicycled 3,500 miles across America to support free breast cancer screenings for women over 40.

Richard Aronson '69

Richard Aronson '69 is a Board-Certified M.P.H. pediatrician, with 33 years of leadership, public service, mentoring, and teaching as a clinical and public health physician. This includes 10 years of clinical practice, 25 years of service in senior level public health leadership positions, and a great deal of rich and sustained experience working with communities. Since the start of 2008, he has devoted his full-time energy to teaching, mentoring, and inspiring a new generation of public health and health professions leaders. He currently is Visiting Professor of Public Health in the School of Natural Science at Hampshire College. He has mentored dozens of Amherst College and other undergraduate students who show promise and interest in health careers, and has connected them with a wide variety of jobs and graduate schools. He has helped organize several Career Center and CCE sponsored health professions mentoring and advising events. In 2008, he worked closely with Amherst students to start a new and dynamic student-led group, the Amherst College Public Health Collaborative.  He currently works with the Amherst Center for Community Engagement on public health related issues. Going back to his Amherst undergraduate years and throughout his career, Dick has sought to put into practice the highest ideals of public health, public service, and medicine, and to stay faithful to the Amherst College ideal of Terras Irradient.  He places great value in supporting young people in their quest to discover paths to put their ideals into practice in the world of health, public health, and public service.

Amrita Basu

Amrita Basu is the Domenic J. Paino 1955 Professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her academic interests include women’s participation in left wing movements, women’s transnational movements, and ethnic and religious conflict in India. She has served on the editorial boards of several journals and was the South Asia editor for The Journal of Asian Studies for a number of years. She is the author of Two Faces of Protest: Contrasting Modes of Women’s Activism in India (1994); the editor of The Challenge to Local Feminisms: Women’s Movements in Global Perspective; (1995) and most recently the co-editor of Beyond Exceptionalism: Violence, Religion and Democracy in India (2007).

Kate Berry '12


Kate Berry is a political science major originally from Seattle, Washington. She first became involved with the CCE as an Orientation Trip (CEOT) participant her freshman year. Since then, she has practically moved into the CCE, working on the Front Desk Team, as a CEOT Trip Leader, and a member of the Student Advisory Board.  When not at the CCE, Kate can be found photographing for the Public Affairs Office, editing The Indicator, or enjoying teatime with her friends. Her service experiences in rural Cambodia encouraged her academic interests in gender studies, post-conflict societies, trafficking, and genocide. Kate hopes to pursue a career that allows her to combine those interests within the public or non-profit sectors.

Kristin Bumiller

Kristin Bumiller

Kristin Bumiller has a BA and MA in Political Science from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests have spanned a wide range of issues related to feminism and social justice, including civil rights law, violence against women, and social welfare policy. In her first book, The Civil Rights Society, she described the reasons why potential litigants often choose not to employ antidiscrimination law. Her more recent book, In an Abusive State, examines the ways in which feminist campaigns against sexual assault and domestic abuse have become entangled with the stances and goals of the state and the consequences of the growth of criminalization in American society. Her teaching focuses on issues of social justice and political activism. Her courses that incorporate experiential learning components have included “Representing Domestic Violence,” in which students work in community placements relating to domestic violence. For the last four years she has been teaching “Regulating Citizenship” which is conducted inside a correctional facility according to the “inside-out” model. Professor Bumiller is also committed to community activism and has worked with local organizations focused on empowering people with disabilities.

Yohanna Briscoe ‘10


Yohanna Briscoe is from Burlington, Vermont, and majored Black Studies. She worked for three years in the Center for Community Engagement as a Student Coordinator for the Winternship Program. She expanded her interest in community service to the international arena, when she studied abroad in South Africa, giving her the opportunity to work with children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.  Outside of her work at the Center for Community Engagement and academics, Yohanna plays rugby, dances with the Swing and Ballroom Dance Club and volunteers with Girls Inc. of Holyoke. She is uncertain about what she wants to do after graduation but hopes to pursue a career in the non-profit sector.

Christopher Cerf ‘77


Christopher Cerf is currently CEO of Sangari Global Education, which offers innovative education programming to over 500,000 students worldwide.   He previously served as senior campaign advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Between 2004 and 2009, he was Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education where his portfolio included organizational strategy, external relations (press, communications, politics, etc.), innovation and R&D, and all aspects of human capital.  In that capacity, he oversaw labor relations and all matters pertaining to recruiting, supporting, developing and evaluating nearly 80,000 teachers and 1,450 principals.  Previously, he was a partner in the Public Private Strategy Group.  In that role, he served for a year as New York City Chancellor Joel Klein’s Chief Advisor on Transformation. Mr. Cerf served for eight years as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Edison Schools, Inc, the nation's largest private-sector manager of public schools.  He earlier served as Associate Counsel to President Clinton and as a partner in two Washington, D.C. law firms.  Mr. Cerf is a graduate of Amherst College and Columbia Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Prior to attending law school, he spent four years as a high school history teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Mr. Cerf graduated from the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy in 2004.

Nadinne Cruz


As a pioneering leader in community-based learning, Nadinne Cruz has been an advocate and practitioner of service-learning across diverse institutions of higher education.  At the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) in St Paul, MN, Nadinne led a consortium of 18 colleges and universities to develop community-based learning programs. At Stanford University, Nadinne directed the Haas Center for Public Service and taught service-learning courses for the Program in Urban Studies. As Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor at Swarthmore College, Nadinne piloted the Democratic Practice Project for the political science department.  She is co-author of Service-Learning: A Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on its Origins, Practice, and Future (1999), and is the recipient of many awards, including an Honorary Doctorate (Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 2008), the Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award (2005), the Experiential Education Pioneer of the Year Award (National Youth Leadership Council, 2003), and the Distinguished Citizen Scholar (Commonwealth Honors College of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 2001). Now an independent consultant, Nadinne works with colleges and universities across the U.S. and with the national and state Campus Compacts.

Elizabeth Ferguson ‘11E

Elizabeth, who everyone knows as “Lili,” hails from Winnetka, Illinois and is an anthropology and biology double major. Her involvement with the CCE began at its founding when she was selected to be a Bonner Fellow. As a Fellow, the company she kept and the conversations in which she participated catalyzed the development within her of a deep commitment to conscientious and effective engagement. In 2009, she co-founded the Amherst College Public Health Collaborative with a group of passionate, dedicated students, faculty, and alumni and continues to serve as Co-President. She is thrilled to be Team Leader for the brand new Social Innovation Leadership Team at the CCE. Lili was also a member of the Amherst Women’s Soccer Team and served as Co-Captain, and took a semester off in Spring ’09 to train for and compete in the World Karate Championships. She hopes to pursue degrees in medicine and public health.

Stephen Garrow '84

Stephen%20GarrowSteve Garrow is CEO of Rushmore House, a leading business development firm advising executives and entrepreneurs. He has founded two institutional broker/dealers and a private equity company, launched an investment advisor, a technology firm, and has invested in a number of financial service enterprises.  He was the founder and CEO of GaveKal Securities, Tegrit Financial Group, Tegrit Technologies, and most recently served as Special Advisor to Wafra Investments, a Kuwaiti owned investment group.  Mr. Garrow is an advisor at WIBO, Workshops in Business Opportunities, a non-profit organization committed to enabling small business owners from underserved communities in New York City to obtain financial and business education through sixteen-week seminars, advisory services, and legal and accounting clinics.  Steve acts as the WIBO liaison in some of New York’s prisons and correctional facilities, working with inmates on entrepreneurial and educational opportunities upon the termination of their incarceration.  In 2007, Steve and his wife Rima founded Rushmore House, a non-profit scholarship organization assisting Palestinian students from the West Bank and Gaza in gaining better access to select colleges and universities in the US and promoting cross-cultural awareness.  Since inception, Rushmore has facilitated nearly two million dollars in scholarship assistance and currently has students enrolled at Amherst, Emory, Harvard, Swarthmore, MIT, Williams, and several other select schools across the United States.  In January of 2011, Steve was awarded The Charles Austin, Harry Fox Award for Exceptional Service to the Free Enterprise System, and teaches a course on Social Entrepreneurship during interterm on campus. After graduating from Amherst, Mr. Garrow received his Executive MBA in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Rosanne Haggerty ‘82


Rosanne Haggerty is the president and founder of Common Ground, an international leader in developing community strategies to end homelessness.She is an Urban Advisor to the Urban Land Institute, a board member of the Center for Urban Community Services, the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Quest Diagnostics, and is a Life Trustee of Amherst College. Prior to founding Common Ground Community in 1990, she was the coordinator of housing development at Brooklyn Catholic Charities. She is a graduate of Amherst College and is completing studies for a PhD in sociology at New York University. Ms. Haggerty is a 2001 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. In 2007, she was elected as an Ashoka Senior Fellow. Haggerty was a Japan Society Public Policy Fellow, an Adelaide Thinker in Residence, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow and is a Hunt Alternatives Fund Prime Mover.

Philip Lilienthal ’62


Phil Lilienthal is a lawyer and philanthropist best known for his humanitarian work in Ethiopia and South Africa and as the founder of Global Camps Africa. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, in 1966 Phil founded Ethiopia’s first residential summer camp.  For 30 years, he was the owner/director of Camp Winnebago in Maine.  An attorney, he was in private practice from 1974 to 2002.  Prior to that time, he practiced in a Washington, DC law firm, was Attorney/Advisor at the Peace Corps General Counsel’s Office, served as regional director in Mindanao for Peace Corps/Philippines, and Deputy Director for Peace Corps/ Thailand.  Phil was on the National Board of the American Camp Association (ACA) where he was Legislative Liaison, the New York section board of ACA, and the Maine Youth Camping Association. He was also a Standards Visitor for ACA.

Molly Mead


Molly Mead is the Director of the Amherst College Center for Community Engagement. Molly came to Amherst  after a distinguished career at Tufts University where she most held the post of Lincoln Filene Professor and was a member of the faculty of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy. Molly was founding Director of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts. She also served as the academic director of the Clinton Democracy Fellows program, a program designed to develop the capacities of emerging leaders in South Africa. She has worked and consulted extensively in the nonprofit sector with organizations such as the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Casey Family Services of New Haven, CT. She is the author of numerous papers on social policy, citizenship, gender and, most recently, of Effective Philanthropy (with Mary Ellen Capeck), which won the Virgina A. Hodgkinson Research Book Prize in 2007. Molly holds an MBA from Simmons College and an Ed. D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Betty Medina Lichtenstein


Betty Medina Lichtenstein has been working to strengthen the community of Holyoke, Massachusetts for the last forty years. Betty’s family migrated from Puerto Rico to New York, where Betty was born and raised. Her longtime interest in the welfare of young children brought Betty from her first job at Baystate Medical Center to a seat on the Holyoke School Committee as the first Puerto Rican in the state to attain elected office. Now the Executive Director of Enlace de Familias, Betty is committed to the parents and children who come to the Center. She has also formed Holyoke Unites/Holyoke Se Une, an umbrella organization that builds alliances with other organizations in the area. Betty has worked with faculty and students from Amherst College for over 18 years and sees an opportunity for the Center for Community Engagement to create a new dialogue about ways the College can work more effectively with people and community organizations in Holyoke.

Sonia Nieto


Dr. Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the School of Education, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She has written numerous books including Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, which is widely used in teacher preparation and in-service courses throughout the nation and beyond. Other books include The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities and Why We Teach. In addition, she has published dozens of book chapters and articles. She serves as Trustee or Advisor on several regional and national boards that focus on educational equity and social justice, including the Center for Applied Linguistics, Facing History and Ourselves, the Mass Humanities, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and Educators for Social Responsibility, as well as on the editorial advisory boards of numerous educational journals. She is editor for the Language, Culture, and Teaching Series for Routledge Publishers. Dr. Nieto has received many awards for her scholarship, advocacy, and activism, including the 1989 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the 2005 Outstanding Educator from the National Council of Teachers of English, and the 2008 Social Justice Award from the American Educational Research Association. In addition, she was awarded a Bellagio Residency from the Rockefeller Foundation and she is the recipient of four honorary doctorates. She lives in Amherst, MA with her husband, Angel, and their granddaughter, Jazmyne.

Barry O’Connell


Barry O’Connell is the James E. Ostendarp Professor of English. Barry O’Connell grew up in a small farm town in upstate New York.  He went to Harvard in 1961 and majored in American history and literature, the center of his lifelong intellectual interests.  In his sophomore year he began teaching in public schools–beginning in a fourth grade classroom in Boston; later in the first Headstart program in greater Boston , which he helped to start; and finally in the technical high school in Cambridge, MA as part of an Upward Bound Program which he began and ran.  In addition he set up comprehensive after-school educational programs in a number of public housing projects in which he also did community organizing. After graduating, he spent a year in England and returned to earn an M.A. in American History and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization, both at Harvard.  He came to Amherst in 1972 and has also since taught at the University of Warsaw, the University of California-Berkeley, and Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy.  His major work in public education since coming to Amherst has been in shaping and running professional development programs throughout Massachusetts.

Patricia B. O’Hara


Pat O’Hara is the Amanda and Lisa Cross Professor of Chemistry. Some of her most recent courses include Human Physiology; Women in Science; and a First Year Seminar entitled Evolution/Revolution. In addition to her responsibilities as a professor and senior advisor to the Dean of Academic Life at Amherst, Professor O’Hara serves on the Advisory Board to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst HHMI Grant to Molecular Chemistry and Biology. She is the author or co-author of numerous publications including a book currently under contract on fluorescence in biochemical and biophysical laboratories.


Karen Sánchez-Eppler


Karen Sánchez-Eppler is professor of English and American Studies and was the first faculty advisor to the Center for Community Engagement. She is particularly interested in the intersection between literature and social change; the central question of her work is who gets to be part of the national story. A long-time advocate of community-based learning, Professor Sánchez-Eppler regularly teaches courses that require student internships at local public schools and feminist organizations and has frequently assisted colleagues in developing ways to incorporate community engagement into their academic curriculum. Professor Sánchez-Eppler has helped launch the new Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and authored Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (2005) and Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism and the Politics of the Body (1993). Her present project is the Unpublished Republic: Manuscript Cultures of the Mid-Nineteenth Century United States.

John Saltmarsh


Dr. Saltmarsh is the Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, as well as a faculty member in the Department of Leadership in Education in the Graduate College of Education, also at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. From 1998 through 2005, he directed the Project on Integrating Service with Academic Study at Campus Compact. He holds a Ph.D. in American History from Boston University and taught for over a decade at Northeastern University and as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Feinstein Institute for Public Service at Providence College. He is the author of Scott Nearing: An Intellectual Biography (1991) as well as numerous book chapters and articles on civic engagement, service-learning, and experiential education. His writings have appeared in Liberal Education, the Michigan Journal for Community Service Learning, Academe: The Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, the Journal of Experiential Education, Metropolitan Universities Journal, the National Society for Experiential Education Quarterly and the Journal of Cooperative Education. He has served as the guest editor for a special issue on service-learning and civic engagement of the Journal of Public Affairs and serves on the editorial board of the Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning and the board of the AACU Center for Liberal Education and Civic Engagement.

Destry Maria Sibley

Destry Maria Sibley is a community organizer at the North End Organizing Network (NEON) in Springfield, Massachusetts. She also serves on the steering committee of Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude.  She graduated from Amherst in 2009 with an interdisciplinary degree in Development Studies. While at Amherst, Destry worked as a CCE student staff coordinator and made efforts to open the Center to student activists. She was twice the recipient of CCE funding that allowed her to travel to Bangladesh to study grassroots models of social change, which later became the focus of her senior thesis.   

Mary Jo Viederman

Mary Jo Viederman is the Founder and President of Charter 21, an integrated communications agency based in Amherst that works with clients world-wide on issues of social and environmental change. Prior to founding her own agency, she was as Vice President of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Lindblad Expeditions & National Geographic, the leading expedition travel company known for its pioneering model of travel philanthropy that raises millions of dollars for conservation and stewardship projects around the world. Her last initiative there was an expedition for world influencers to witness global warming in the Arctic. MJ has worked with many leading socially responsible brands including Stonyfield Farm where she was VP of Communications for 5 years. Her issues range from climate change and conservation to childhood obesity, aging for the elderly, eco-tourism, sustainable cuisine, organics and natural foods, sweatshops and child labor. She is currently on the advisory boards of Green Team, Amherst College’s Center for Community Engagement, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s Life Lab and she is on Amherst Education Foundation Board and the Advisory board, and the Amherst Regional High School Council. She is the mother of two children, an avid outdoor enthusiast, runner, skier and gardener.

Wendy Woodson


Wendy Woodson is the Roger C.Holden 1919 Professor of Theater and Dance  and artistic director of Present Company, Inc., a non-profit performance company. She has created 90 movement, theater, and video works that have been presented throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Australia at such venues as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jacob's Pillow, the Smithsonian, DeCordova Museum, and the Emerson Majestic Theater. Professor Woodson has received Choreography, Theater, and Interdisciplinary fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boston Film and Video Foundation, and the Rockefeller Bellagio Center, among others.  In 2007 she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar/Artist in Residence in Melbourne Australia where she will return in 2011 to continue with theater and video projects related to place, migration, displacement and memory.

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