Co-Chairs

Dr. Aaliyah Baker is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Leadership at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI. She began her career as a classroom teacher with Milwaukee Public Schools and has built a record of connecting theory, research, and practice in multiple settings.  Dr. Baker’s scholarship focuses on critical pedagogy, multicultural education, and critical race theory through an array of independent and collaborative research projects in local, state, national, and international forums. She is known for her work in facilitating critical conversations around culture and leading organizations toward transformational thinking — that which fosters a commitment to social justice.  Dr. Baker is committed to building strong community partnerships. She collaborates with K-12 schools by supporting the development of curriculum and instruction, identifying pedagogical practices that build capacity for cultural competence and humility, and meeting the increasingly diverse needs of students and families.

Phyllis Esposito recently assumed the position as Director for the Center for Multicultural Education at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Phyllis has 20 years of classroom teaching and administrative experiences. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Kansas with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction and Multicultural Education.
Before coming to Edgewood, Phyllis was a professor in a teacher education program at a liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest, where in addition to teaching, she participated in campus-wide strategic initiatives involving issues of equity and inclusion focused on faculty development.
Phyllis and her husband are parents to three amazing young adults and one super dog, whose name is Gromit. Phyllis loves BBQ, Swedish detective novels, and watching and re-watching episodes of the Sopranos.
Lastly, Phyllis’ teaching and scholarship demonstrate her commitment to deliberative, intentional dialogue and action.

Dr. Julianne Gassman is the Director of Community Engagement and Associate Professor in the Division of Leisure, Youth and Human Services at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). She also serves as the Campus Executive Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Dr. Gassman has taught in the area of nonprofit management for the past twenty-two years and is the author/co-author of numerous books and publications in the area of nonprofit management, youth development and service-learning. Her research interests include service-learning with a focus on forming mutually beneficial partnerships, community engagement, nonprofit management and student loan debt. Julianne spends her free time with her husband and four children and enjoys cycling, golfing and traveling.

Tina Kruse is an author, professor, and consultant specializing in the psychological foundations of student learning, with a focus on youth development and social justice. For 15 years, Tina has been a faculty member in the Educational Studies department at Macalester College, which uses a Reflective ePortfolios as a graduation requirement for over a decade. She is trained as an educational psychologist and regularly utilizes community-based learning and reflective practice in her courses. Tina and Karin have facilitated Communities of Practice on and off campus on the theme of reflective practices.

Kayla Lyftogt is a second-year Higher Education PhD student in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. From 2011-2018 she was the Director of Community Engagement at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. There, she focused on building sustainable community partnerships and assisted faculty across disciplines to develop community-engaged learning courses. More recently, Kayla was a Community-Engaged Learning Coordinator in the Center for Community-Engaged Learning at the University of Minnesota. She is interested in thinking about the spectrum of community-engaged scholarship opportunities and the ways that partnerships with smaller undergraduate research projects as well as collaborations funded through large entities such as the National Science Foundation can incorporate and uphold participatory principles. This is her second year co-leading the Community of Practice on Community-Based Participatory Research and she is excited to be a co-learner alongside the participants.

Alyssa Melby has been St. Olaf’s Assistant Director for Academic Civic Engagement since Fall 2017 and recently received the Community Engagement Fundamentals micro-credential from Campus Compact. She is a former community partner of higher education institutions, having previously worked in arts management and arts education for 12 years. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Northfield Arts Guild during which time she steered the organization into the black for the first time in 7 years and doubled the membership base. Back in Pittsburgh, she worked as the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater where she facilitated several initiatives to improve access for patrons and participants alike, including the country’s first-ever Autism/Sensory-Friendly performance of The Nutcracker. She holds an MA in Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in English and Theater from the University of MN, Morris.

Emily Oliver is the Associate Director for Academic Civic Engagement at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Carleton College. Currently, Emily is working with Educational Studies Professor Anita Chikkatur as the Co-PI on a Participatory Action Research project about Latinx and Somali educational experiences in Faribault, MN funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Forthcoming from The Journal of Creative Writing Studies is “Digital Participatory Poetics and Civic Engagement in the Creative Writing Classroom,” an article Emily co-wrote with Liza Flum. Also a poet, her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, OmniVerse, Water~Stone, DIAGRAM and elsewhere. She’s been a recipient of a Sicca Grant, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize and a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant. Before the CCCE, she taught civically-engaged courses as a lecturer in the English Department at Cornell University.

Laura Palombi is an assistant professor of public health and community engagement at the University of Minnesota – College of Pharmacy in Duluth. Her research, practice, and teaching focus on community engagement in rural and tribal communities to address the opioid crisis and she enjoys partnerships with individuals and agencies devoted to substance use prevention and intervention across the state and nation. Laura is looking forward to co-leading the “Leveraging Research for Change” COP and learning from other COP members who are similarly passionate about ensuring that research is harnessed and leveraged to include and benefit the community. This will be the third COP that Laura has been a part of.

Marie Schaedel is a second-year PhD student in the Applied Plant Sciences program at the University of Minnesota. Before starting her graduate studies, Marie served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa. Her work in Togo involved working with local growers’ cooperatives and middle-school girls to promote gender equality and food security. Marie’s thesis research is based in Rwanda, where she works with local scientists and farmers to identify improved cropping systems for soil health and sustainable livelihoods. As a fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, Marie seeks to broaden her disciplinary boundaries by putting participatory processes at the center of her work. Marie is excited to engage with the topic of “Leveraging Research for Change” as her first CoP.

Amy Shanafelt, MA, is a Community Engaged Research Project Manager in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. With a graduate degree in Community Psychology, Amy has contributed a community engagement lens to the health equity research projects she has managed over many years. Amy has served on the executive committee of the Community Campus Liaison Council at the University of Minnesota for many years, is leading the work of the MN Food Justice Summit outreach and engagement planning committee and serving as a co-chair of the Metro Food Access Network Equity Workgroup. Amy also has experience as a University Instructor teaching a course titled, “Preparing for Meaningful Community Engagement” in the College of Education and Human Development. All of these experiences have built her strong organizational and facilitation skills as they relate to leading, and guiding group processes and co-learning.

Karin Trail-Johnson brings 30 years of experience as a civic engagement administrator of a vibrant curricular and co-curricular program that places a high priority on both action and reflection. As Associate Dean of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship and Director of Civic Engagement at Macalester College, she has facilitated numerous cohorts on campus and at other institutions on using reflective practices as the catalyst to move experiential learning to high impact learning.

Kara Trebil-Smith is the Director of Community and Civic Engagement at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where she manages community engagement initiatives across campus and collaborates with faculty and students to develop ongoing community-campus partnerships. She has spent more than 10 years in community engagement roles on Iowa college campuses. In 2018 she completed her doctoral degree in higher education from the University of Denver where her research focused on building the capacity of community engagement professionals to practice inclusion of racially minoritized students. More recently, she served as the Research and Evaluation Specialist for Iowa Campus Compact, leading a state-wide study exploring how community-based organizations perceive their partnerships with higher education. She received a M.Ed in postsecondary education, student affairs from the University of Northern Iowa and a BA in communication and public relations from Wartburg College.