2019-2020 Engaged Scholars

The Engaged Scholars Initiative seeks to develop, support and connect leaders who can advance co-created knowledge, critically engaged pedagogies, institutional change, and collaborative action to address societal issues.

Read the full announcement here.

Dr. Erin Arneson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University. After receiving a B.Arch from Kansas State University in 2006, Dr. Arneson worked as a project manager for over seven years in the architecture and construction industry. She earned an M.S. in construction management from the University of Washington in 2014 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2018. Her current research broadly examines how disasters affect physical, social, informational, and economic infrastructure. Specifically, she is exploring societal and institutional barriers faced by groups historically susceptible to community inequity after disasters. Unequal access to resources, both before and after a disaster, often determine community post-disaster residential housing reconstruction outcomes. Dr. Arneson is thrilled to join the Engaged Scholars Initiative community of practice, and looks forward to improving outreach education and outreach regarding disaster decision-making processes, mitigation, and recovery.

Peter Buchanan Peter is the Civic Engagement Coordinator at Montana State University Billings within the newly formed Center for Engagement. Peter holds a M.A. and M.Sc. in Psychology, where he specialized in social learning and cultural transmission. Having held positions as a researcher at University of Dundee, University of St Andrews and University of Oxford he brings a comparative perspective on how diverse higher education systems (Northern Europe and North America) prepare students for academic, professional and personal success. His current role sees him serving students by developing high impact community partnerships that foster civic pride, stewardship and sustainability. Moving to Montana has allowed him to pursue his passions for travel, hiking, climbing and wildlife. He also does a bit of photography and claims to be able to play Wonderwall on the guitar.

Ben Chiewphasa
serves as a Government Information Librarian and Assistant Professor at the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library. He functions as the state of Montana’s Regional Depository Coordinator under the Federal Depository Library Program and actively ensures that the integrity and comprehensiveness of Federal information and data resources for the region are intact. Currently, Ben co-teaches a class on environmental information resources and works with students and faculty across campus to provide course-integrated information literacy instruction and specialized research consultations. His scholarly interests revolve around questions of how libraries can leverage their existing spaces and services to purposefully foster civic learning, critical thinking, and social responsibility. In particular, he envisions partnerships between academic libraries, local civic data intermediaries, and civic scholars as a way to promote the use of data for addressing community-based concerns. Ben has also conducted research to better understand the unique and overlapping data management needs for graduate students across diverse research disciplines. He holds a Masters of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Masters of Arts in Anthropology with a concentration in Cultural Heritage from the University of Montana, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geosciences and Sociology/Anthropology from Denison University. Ben champions the library as a community built by diverse users, library professionals, and subsequently, human experiences.

Lauren Collins is a postdoctoral fellow at the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana, where she teaches interdisciplinary and community engaged courses. She is a critical scholar, ethnographer, and educator focused on the social context of global education. She received her PhD in higher education from the University of Denver. Her recent work looks at community impact and social change related to hosting global programs by communities in Thailand, China, and Taiwan. Situated at the intersection of U.S. foreign relations history, globalization, and economic change, her scholarship details how educational projects like study abroad place young people on the frontlines of international relations. Her research intervenes in the long-standing paradigm which has historically placed value on study abroad impact on U.S. students and not on the community in which they study. She has considerable global field program teaching experience, including designing and leading 15 college, high school, and teacher training study abroad programs in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Israel, and Costa Rica. She a member of the editorial board for About Campus: Enriching the Student Learning Experience. Her work has been published in the Journal of Teaching in Higher EducationJournal of Comparative and International Higher Education, and American College Personnel Association Thought Papers.


Julissa Espinoza is the Director of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement at the University of La Verne, a four-year comprehensive Hispanic Serving Institution (HS) located in Southern California, and comes to the role as an established leader in the nonprofit sector. She pursued a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of La Verne, and is now responsible for leading and building reciprocal partnerships between the university and community partners in the areas of academic community-based learning, community engaged scholarship and co-curricular civic and community engagement.


Austin Galy is the Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Learning to the University of San Diego’s Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action (CASA). In his role, Austin works collaboratively with staff, students, faculty, administrators and community partners to deepen ties between USD and the surrounding community. Focusing primarily on student leadership development through immersive forms of education, Austin strives to create spaces for students and community members to learn and grow alongside one another through establishing equitable and democratic-reciprocal relationships.  Austin formerly studied Meteorology before going on to obtain his B.A. in Sociology and M.A. in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Professionally, his focus looks closely at better understanding the role of gender in structural violence. From 2009 – 2018, he served as a member of the United States Air Force Special Operations, working to support the U.S. and other joint coalition task force efforts during wartime. After separating from active duty in 2014, Austin made the decision to return to school in pursuit of better understanding structural violence in his/other(s) communities, while exploring more sustainable and preventative methods for peace and ultimately, transformative justice.

Gabriela Gamiz is founding director of both the Office of Community Engagement; and the open access, free tutoring program, Homework Hotline at Harvey Mudd College. Ms. Gamiz collaborates with faculty, staff, students; and community members to develop mutually beneficial and reciprocal partnerships; and works closely with HMC’s associate dean for research and experiential learning to design and implement various faculty professional development initiatives, such as a year long workshop series on community based learning. Ms. Gamiz’s top five strengths are connectedness, achiever, arranger, relator and learner. As a daughter of immigrant parents, the eldest sibling, and the first to attend any educational institution, Ms. Gamiz experienced first-hand the benefit of programs and people who value equity, inclusion and access. As a result, being part of and working alongside community is a value Ms. Gamiz’ embraces. Ms. Gamiz believes in asking whose voice is missing at the table when thinking through new and existing initiatives because it is the diversity of those voices, lived experiences, stories and expertise that help create truly meaning and positively impactful programs. On a personal level, Ms. Gamiz also values being an active member of her community and contributing to awareness, development and implementation of community wide programs and resources.

Michael Humphrey, an assistant professor at Colorado State University‘s Journalism and Media Communication department, researches how life stories emerge on social media. He attended William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. – where he earned his B.A. in Communication and Philosophy. Before receiving his M.A. in Magazine Journalism at New York University, Humphrey wrote feature stories for The Kansas City Star and founded 1000 Stories, a life story writing program sponsored by KC metro area libraries that reached more than 2,000 adult students. Following that, he perused his Ph.D. in Public Communication & Technology at CSU and now teaches Digital Storytelling & Audience Engagement, Entrepreneurial Journalism and Analytics in the Department of Journalism and Media Communication. This summer he was a Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, where he studied the works of Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero. Michael lives in Fort Collins with his partner Lorie Humphrey, a career counselor at the CSU College of Business.

Dr. Sachin Jain, director and associate professor of counseling at the University of Providence (in Great Falls, Montana), completed his Masters (Clinical Psychology) in India and Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Wyoming. He is a Licensed professional counselor, certified K-12 and Mathematics & Physics teacher. Currently, he is serving as Director of Counseling program at the University of Providence and Associate Director, Counselors Without Borders. He has published two books, 35 articles in peer-reviewed journals and numerous presentations and book chapters. Some of the awards he received include the “Outstanding Dissertation in Counseling” from the American Educational Research Association; “Outstanding contribution to scholarship” awarded by the University of Idaho; “Advocacy Award” from Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development. In past he served as President of Indian Association of Mental Health counselors (2013-2015), Chair of the American Counseling Association’s International committee & member of CACREP’s international committee (IRCEP). He has received 30 grants including from Humanities councils at Michigan, Texas, Idaho and Wyoming.

Nolizwe M. Nondabula (they/them) is currently the Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships for Engage San Francisco, a University of San Francisco place-based campus-community initiative. They additionally serve on the steering committee of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP). Nolizwe graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Economics and the University of San Francisco with a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs. Prior to Engage SF, Nolizwe served as an organizer for black.seed, a direct action collective that centered Black Queer and Trans leadership, and cultivated the next generation of LGBTQIA+ leaders of color as the Mentorship Program Coordinator for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC). They’ve also had the wonderful opportunity of sitting on the Board of Directors for the New Leaders Council, Brookview House and BUTCH Voices. When they’re not basking in QTPOC magic, you can find them jiving to the sounds of Afro-house or recharging with the power rangers.

Lisa Hope Schwartz. In her role as community outreach program manager at the University of Colorado Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement, Schwartz connects faculty, staff and students to Colorado communities in order to develop community-engaged scholarship partnerships and projects. She leads the office’s arts and humanities and community development and design initiatives, including the Engaged Arts And Humanities (EAH) Graduate Student Scholars Program, the Creative District Leadership Convening, and the Inclusiveness and Equity series. She also authors engaged scholars interviews.Schwartz has a background as a community-engaged educational researcher, social scientist and educator. She received her PhD in Education at the University of Arizona, with an emphasis on ethnography, funds of knowledge research and sociocultural theory. Subsequently, she was Research Director and Postdoctoral Associate for a MacArthur Digital Media and Learning project at the CU Boulder School of Education. Schwartz is committed to equity-oriented and community-based approaches to scholarship and work with nondominant (e.g. immigrant, Latinx, rural, women, etc.) communities in the US West. Read more about Schwartz and her work at lisahopeschwartz.com

Lydia Chen Shah is a leader in strategy, integrated marketing, organizational culture, and brand/product management. As a professor at Cal Poly Pomona in the International Business and Marketing department, she is deeply committed to experiential and service learning. Chen Shah has collaborated with numerous community partners where students develop marketing solutions to alleviate business pain points. She has been involved as engaged faculty since 2015 when she was selected as a Faculty Fellow. Her professional experience surpassing twenty years spans from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Dedicated to teaching future generations that participation is vital to sustainable communities, she leads by example in demonstrating engagement can take place in any function and any organization.

Sarah Van Etten is pursuing a Ph.D. in Education, Equity and Transformation through the Colorado State University School of Education and holds a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit organizational leadership from the University of Colorado.  She is currently the Program Coordinator for Pets Forever – an intergenerational, service-learning course and affiliated non-profit program at CSU.  In this role, she is responsible for instruction and supervision of interns, students and volunteers as well as overall client and program management.  With over 15 years of director level experience working in the not-for-profit sector in the areas of community engagement, outreach, and education, Sarah’s career has been founded on the idea that a compassionate and engaged citizenry can truly change the world.  Her research interests are focused on the impact of service learning and civic engagement on individuals and communities.