Center for Community Engagement

Staff and Affiliated Faculty

Molly Mead, Director

Molly Mead came to Amherst after a distinguished career at Tufts University where she most recently 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 not-for profit 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 M.B.A. from Simmons College and an Ed. D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Julia Alexander, Public Service Internship Coordinator

Julia is a firm believer in the essential learning that takes place outside of the classroom. She is an enthusiastic world traveler and is dedicated to social justice. Her most recent escapades include living and teaching in Morocco, exploring the Pyramids of Egypt, and working on a small horse farm in the south of Spain. Julia has B.A. in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and a M.Ed. in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a trained Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator, facilitating workshops related to racism, sexism, heterosexism and social identity awareness. Julia is eager to support students in becoming empowered co-creators of their own education and is dedicated to helping students find the best public service internship to synthesize their learning goals.

Sarah Barr, Director of Academic Programs

After graduating from Chatham College with a B.A. in Global Policy Studies, Sarah joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps for a year of service in Washington, DC as the Legal Clinic Coordinator at Bread for the City.  In 2000, she joined the staff of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy at Connecticut College where she worked with students to develop interdisciplinary programs of study that focused on a variety of community-based issues including food security, affordable housing, education, environmental sustainability, and public health.  Sarah works with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community organizations to develop community-based courses, research projects, internships, and co-curricular initiatives. During the summer Sarah spends her time in town preparing for the annual Amherst Community Engagement Orientation Trip.  She recently completed a master’s degree in Theology and Ethics at Hartford Seminary.

Megan Briggs Lyster, Director of Innovation Programs

Megan’s work with the CCE focuses on the intersection between social entrepreneurship and innovation and community engagement. She received a B.A. from Hampshire College concentrating in family and developmental psychology and an M.A. from Prescott College concentrating in education. Since 2002, Megan has worked with diverse nonprofit and for profit start-ups in the Pioneer Valley, from adaptive recreation to healthcare technology to historic real estate. She brings seven years of experience teaching and advising students on social entrepreneurship, and volunteers as a facilitator for Valley Venture Mentors.

Kristin Bumiller, Faculty Advisor

Kristin Bumiller has a B.A. and M.A. 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.

Zoë Jacobs, Assistant Director

Zoë Jacobs is the Assistant Director of the CCE. She manages the Center's budget and financial records, oversees the Engagement Advisors program, supervises the Front Desk Team, provides vital administrative support to many of the Center's programs, facilitates the CCE Advisory Board meetings, and assists the Director. A native of Massachusetts, Zoë allowed for some time away from the Pioneer Valley to pursue a B.A. in English Literature from Hamilton College, where she graduated in 1994. She later completed a Master's of Education at the University of Massachusetts in 1998. Zoë is an expert at trivia (although she'd deny it), a devoted Boston Red Sox fan, and an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction alike.

Ethan Kolek, Director of Evaluation

Ethan directs the evaluation activities of the Center for Community Engagement. He designs, collects, and analyzes a variety of data to inform planning and program development. Ethan received an A.B. in Political Science from Vassar College, an M.Ed. in Higher Education and an Ed.D. in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His scholarly interests include contemporary issues in the college student experience and improving research methods in the study of higher education phenomena. Previously, Ethan held the position of Associate Director of Institutional Research at the College. Before arriving at Amherst in the spring of 2007, Ethan worked in the Student Assessment, Research, and Evaluation Office at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Karen Lee Miller, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement & Director of Leadership Programs

Karen began her career at Wheaton College, where she worked as a Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA. She went on to direct a teenage pregnancy prevention program, and has worked in both admissions and housing departments. In 2004, she joined the staff of the Amherst College Community Outreach Program (predecessor to the CCE). Since then, she has focused on student leadership development and strengthening the culture of community engagement. She is interested in experiential leadership program design and the assessment of learning outcomes. Her major programs in the CCE include a Community Engagement Leadership Program, the Athletics Team Engagement Leader Program, and the first-year student Community Engagement Orientation Trip. Karen works to increase communication with and among campus constituencies to create opportunities for meaningful community involvement. She is available to assist individual students and/or student groups with opportunities to get involved. Karen has studied with the School for International Training in Kenya, received a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and an Ed.S. in Higher Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Karen enjoys traveling, eating fudgy oatmeal bars from dining services, and volunteering as a Birthday Wishes, Inc. Party Coordinator at a local homeless shelter.

Jenny Morgan, Director of Communication

Jenny creates and edits content for the Center for Community Engagement's website and newsletter. She manages the website and crafts stories profiling the breadth and depth of community engagement at Amherst. She received a B.A. from Hampshire College, where she focused on Middle Eastern history and literature. Jenny is a documentary artist and works primarily in audio. She recently completed a Certificate in Documentary Arts from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.

Robert Siudzinski, Program Director for Careers in Education Professions

Robert serves as the principal resource for students and alumni considering careers in education. Working within both the Career Center and the Center for Community Engagement, Robert advises students and alumni on opportunities in education, including internships, jobs, and gap-year experiences. He brings 15 years of experience in teaching and counseling to this new position at Amherst. Most recently, Robert served as an assistant professor of education at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Robert holds a doctorate in education psychology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He also holds a master's degree in teaching from the College of Charleston and a bachelor's degree in parks, recreation, and tourism management from Clemson University. Robert's research is in place-based education and community learning partnerships. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, an educator and archaeologist, and their two young daughters.

Student Staff Assistants

Student staff at the Center for Community Engagement aid in the daily operations of the office, performing general office tasks and support services. Their duties range from answering phones and website maintenance to preparing for special events held by the CCE. Beyond their daily tasks, students provide valuable contributions to long-term programming and administrative decisions. In this way, they provide both “muscle” and “vision” to the Center for Community Engagement.