CCCE Reorganization Staff Thoughts

13 May 2020

As our student workers, faculty collaborators, and community partners all continue working hard from a safe distance, our professional staff in the CCCE are looking up and looking out at an exciting future for the center. On April 15, 2020, the CCCE officially announced a new staffing structure and roles for the professional staff team. The new roles include key point positions for academic civic engagement (ACE) and scholarship, addressing community impact, supporting students, and coordination of CCCE operations. Created in conversation with the center’s staff, this revised organizational structure will create new opportunities for collaboration while building on our existing strengths and connections. “The inspiration is the relationships that drive our work,” says Sinda Nichols, Director of the CCCE.

Central to visions of the CCCE’s future is prioritizing our community impact. In all of our programs, co-curricular and academic, we strive to achieve community-identified goals and establish reciprocal, sustained relationships with our community partners. In her new role as Assistant Director for Community Impact, Erica Zweifel will lead the way in ensuring that our work truly serves and advances community goals. Erica is excited for the new dimension this position will bring to her work in the CCCE. She adds, “My previous role was primarily student focused and this new role will layer in a community partner focus. I am looking forward to engaging with our community partners and blending my previous experience with this new focus for greater community impact.”

The CCCE will also continue to invest in high impact student learning, including through our ACE courses and co-curricular student engagement. In Sinda’s words, “Learning how to apply concepts in a real world context and grappling with the complexity of social issues” are key to developing students’ civic agency. Emily Oliver, in her new role as our Associate Director for Academic Civic Engagement & Scholarship, provides invaluable support for growing and maintaining these programs. Emily’s background in participatory action research guides her work in creating high impact learning environments for students that focus on community-led initiatives. Emily’s goals in her new position are aimed at leveraging Carleton’s academic resources to contribute to a more just, thriving, and sustainable community by bringing together faculty research experience, student leadership, and community partnership.

Over the past few years, the CCCE has seen several transitions in leadership and staffing. Sinda notes how this has been difficult for some of our community relationships: “I know that through these periods of transition, our collaborators, especially our community partners, have sometimes not been too sure about who to reach out to, how to be in touch with the CCCE.” As a solution to this issue, the new staff structure establishes key contacts for each of our partnerships. Our team is optimistic about the clarity it will bring to our collaborators and their engagement with the center. 

The revised staff structure also creates exciting opportunities for the center to hire new team members who will further support our vision of building an engaged campus. One such position is the Student Experience Manager, who will provide direct support for our student fellows, compensated break-time fellows, volunteer student program directors, and community-based work study students. This position is core to the CCCE’s mission of helping students develop their civic agency. As Sinda explains, “Civic agency is a kind of self-efficacy made public, and to have civic agency is to feel like you know how to collaborate to make things happen in the world.” Having a Student Experience Manager will help us in our mission to support student civic engagement. In addition to this new position, we will also be hiring an Academic Civic Engagement and Scholarship Coordinator and a 5th Year Education Associate. Applications can be found on the Human Resources Website

What’s next for the CCCE? All of our staff members are excited to branch out in their new roles. Emily plans to teach a 5-week ACE course in Fall 2020 as part of the Program for Ethical Inquiry. She hopes the experience will help her better understand how to support other faculty in future academic civic engagement.

Melissa Thomas, our new CCCE Operations Coordinator, is enthusiastic about collaborating with students and taking on new responsibilities: “I look forward to working closely with Communications fellows and the Community Based Work Study students. I am looking forward to working on the communications for the whole office and doing some fun events and marketing projects.” 

More than just a way of running our office, this new staff organization reimagines the CCCE’s role in the Carleton community. A key aspect of Sinda’s goal as Director of the CCCE is to move Carleton towards the vision of an engaged campus, one which fulfills a public role in our democracy and our communities. As we shift our focus towards maximizing community impact, Sinda notes, “There’s a bigger purpose here, which is us leveraging our capacities as an institution to make a difference in the world.”

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