Meet Our Team

Leigh Ackerman the Coordinator of Volunteerism and OutreachLeigh Ackerman, Coordinator of Volunteerism and Outreach

Leigh promotes, develops, and evaluates community engagement opportunities. She coordinates the America Reads/America Counts program and our Alternative Spring Break program in partnership with International Student & Scholar Services. She also serves as a liaison to student organizations, supervises OCES student leaders, and coordinates the Office's social media and marketing efforts.

“This little gnome was a birthday gift from a friend during my first year of college. His name is Gnorman (with a silent ‘g’) and he accompanies me everywhere I travel. I take pictures of him in every place I visit, and he is extremely photogenic. I have photographs of him from the past 10 years from vacations with family and friends, a study abroad trip, and several service trips.”

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Ceci Burtis

Cecilia Burtis, Service Saturday Coordinator

Ceci organizes Service Saturdays in the Greater Oxford and Hamilton communities. She collaborates with staff, students, and community organizations to meet community needs and expose students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to nonprofit organizations locally. 

"I love traveling, experiencing new things, and going on adventures. In my left hand is a pair of shoes that have traveled with me to every place I visited while studying abroad (10 countries and 16 cities). The jar contains event tickets accumulated since starting college: train tickets, movie stubs, concert tickets, boarding passes. These items remind me to say “yes” to every new opportunity, and to experience as much as I can wherever I may be.”

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Mitzie CampbellMitzie Campbell, Program Associate and Chief Happiness Officer

As our Program Associate, Mitzie is responsible for maintaining organization of OCES’s administrative affairs. She serves as first point of contact for office visitors and as a liaison to numerous offices on campus, including IT Services, Physical Facilities, Accounts Payable, and others. She also works with Leigh Ackerman and our America Reads/America Counts Coordinators to administer this community-based tutoring program. As Chief Happiness Officer, she provides motivation, support and enthusiasm on a regular basis. Visit the office to get a dose of her positive energy.

"Billie Jean is my pet skunk. She represents several important things about me. Firstly, I grew up on a farm and have always had a lifelong passion for animals and animal welfare. At my home, we have pet dogs, skunks, rats, and even a pigmy goat. Animals deserve love, respect, and careful attention and my family tries to provide that for them. In addition, Billie Jean helps to prove an important point about judging people or things based on how they look rather than what’s inside. I try to live this principle in my every daily interaction. Many people think of skunks as vile, ugly creatures, but Billie Jean is sweet, loving and means the world to me. Never, ever judge a book by it’s cover!"

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Lisa Combs

Lisa Combs, Graduate Assistant

Lisa works with OCES student interns to develop community-based programming and serves as a liaison to Greek organizations interested in service and philanthropic initiatives. She also assists the Director with special projects and generally works to make connections between the campus and community. Lisa also serves as Graduate Student Liaison to the Asian and Asian American Faculty/Staff Association.

“This was a gift given to me by someone in my cohort. Love is my number one value and guides everything I do in life. For me, love can be a romantic love, a family love, a friend love, a love for the work you do, and self-love as well.”

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Zach Fields

Zach Fields, Interfaith Day of Service Coordinator

Zach organizes Interfaith Day of Service, a semesterly event in collaboration with the Interfaith Center and the Ford Family Initiative. He also works more generally to support the programs of the office and to increase student engagement in the community.

“The Lumineers are by far my favorite music group. They are humble and compassionate, with a desire to inspire others and spread joy. They are always thankful and attribute their success to their fans. I could listen to Cleopatra on repeat till the end of time. I feel a personal connection to the unique sound and the band. The Lumineers inspire me to continuously try and spread joy and happiness, while always sticking true to myself and what brings me joy.”

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Kelsey Forren

Kelsey Forren, Vote Everywhere Ambassador

Kelsey organizes voter registration efforts, plans and facilitates civic engagement workshops and works to engage students in the political process. This year, she has planned a Community Conversation on levels of civic participation locally, facilitated two Political Engagement workshops and a National Issues Forum: Immigration in America--How Do We Fix a System in Crisis? Vote Everywhere is a program of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, whose aim is to bring down voting barriers, and tackle important social justice issues on college campuses nationwide.

“The world is my biggest classroom! The opportunity to explore has been one of the greatest gifts of my life thus far. That is what this object represents--continual exploration.”

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Betsy Grout

Betsy Grout, Social Media & Marketing Intern

Betsy works with us in utilizing new technology and social media to help increase the OCES's public and institutional profile and shape its programs and offerings. She designs both print and digital marketing materials, social media and website content, and develops innovative new approaches to promoting community engagement and the work of OCES.

"If you were to ask any of my friends a fun fact about me or something I love, they would always tell you how obsessed I am with Jimmy Fallon. I tried to get tickets to his show for about a year until I finally decided to just go to New York City and hope I'd get lucky with stand-by tickets. My friends are amazing for waiting in line with me for six hours until we finally heard that we would be seeing his show that same night. This was an absolute dream come true, and to top it off, Jimmy Fallon came around and hugged me after the show. This is an experience I will never forget and I will always cherish these memories I made with my friends."

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Bre Helm

Breaysha Helm, America Reads/Counts Coordinator

Bre helps coordinate the America Reads/America Counts tutoring program. She organizes and facilitates tutor training sessions and helps ensure that campus-community partnerships are running smoothly.

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Aleah HolleyAleah Holley, Vote Everywhere Ambassador

Aleah organizes voter registration efforts, plans and facilitates civic engagement workshops and works to engage students in the political process. Vote Everywhere is a program of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, whose aim is to bring down voting barriers, and tackle important social justice issues on college campuses nationwide.

“This book has taught me so much about myself and the black women who have paved my way. While reading this book, I was an intern on Capitol Hill and was developing my life goals and aspirations. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story has taught me that revolutionary black women are crucial to societal change and that the path to a better world is never easy, but one that tests your very existence."

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Wil Hughes

Wil Hughes, Program Management Intern

Wil works to develop issues-based programming for students on campus. This semester, he has organized film screenings, panel discussions, and workshops which address important public issues. Currently, he is working with disability advocacy groups to organize collaborative programming on campus and in the community.

“My favorite Ninja Turtle growing up was Leonardo, but this is Raphael, and that's okay. A bit faded and worn now, Raphael and I started our journey together last summer when a camper gave him to me as an end-of-session gift. Though working at the camp was fraught with countless challenges, seeing Raphael spinning out of control on my keychain whenever I unlock the door brings a smile to my face, and reaffirms why my work matters.”

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NatalieNatalie Knoepfle, Social Media & Marketing Intern

Natalie works with us in utilizing new technology and social media to help increase the OCES's public and institutional profile and shape its programs and offerings. She designs both print and digital marketing materials, social media and website content, and develops innovative new approaches to promoting community engagement and the work of OCES.

"These lights were a gift from a friend, and they remind me of my favorite T.V. show Psych, which has a pineapple hidden in every episode. Apart from how great the show is, I also have a special connection with it because I always watch and quote it with my family. I am really close with them, and every time I see the lights I think of them, which always makes me feel better if I'm having a bad day."  

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Mikayla MitchellMikayla Mitchell, Program Management Intern - Major Events

Mikayla is responsible for planning, implementing and assessing the quality of major OCES events such as Miami SOUP, a crowdfunding, mini-granting dinner which celebrates and supports innovative community change projects in the region. SOUP is an opportunity for teams of students, faculty/staff, and community partners to make a significant impact and contribute towards real change. Stay tuned to the OCES newsletter and social media sites to be notified of next year’s SOUP proposal deadline and event date. In addition to her work on SOUP, Mikayla also facilitates workshops and presents on behalf of the office on a range of community engagement topics.

"This Eno, which is a portable hammock, represents my love of the outdoors. I find nature both calming and reenergizing. This past summer I went out west with my family and hiked the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon. My favorite trail was 'The Narrows' in Zion Canyon, which is a water trail in between two huge rock formations. Back home, I regularly go hiking at Raven Run and Red River Gorge and cherish sights like Natural Bridge. I also enjoy doing my homework outside on sunny days, going swimming, setting up my Eno and reading a book, skiing, and other outdoor places like parks and pumpkin patches. If given the option, I will always choose the outdoors over the indoors."

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Molly O'Donnell

Molly O’Donnell, Program Management Intern - Alternative Breaks

Molly works to plan, implement and assess our Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program within the office. She helps oversee the ASB site leader application and selection process, develops ASB site leader trainings, conducts outreach to diverse groups on campus, and generally works to increase levels of student knowledge and engagement with regard to important public issues.

"This bus pass from the last day of my internship at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority represents my dream of working for a public transit agency. It merges my love for sustainable living, local government, and community outreach. I keep this pass hanging on my bulletin board because it reminds me of my goal to work in public transit and of the culture at the GCRTA, which encouraged every single employee from CEO to bus operators to step up and serve the community as best as possible within a limited budget and with limited manpower. That mantra was the most important take-away from my internship, and glancing at the pass everyday reminds me to work to foster a similar culture in everything I do."

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Megan SensMegan Sens, Student Assistant

Megan is responsible for putting together OCES's weekly newsletter. She also helps prepare for events and generally provides support to the office and its programs.

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McKenzy White

McKenzy White, America Reads/America Counts Coordinator

McKenzy helps coordinate the America Reads/America Counts tutoring program. She organizes and facilitates tutor training sessions and helps ensure that campus-community partnerships are running smoothly.

“I first read this book my senior year of high school and it really just set a fire in my soul to be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves and to serve people wholeheartedly. Since then, I've probably read it 20 times; each time sparks a new insight of how I can help be an advocate for change in the world. I think it really laid the foundation for how I want to go about the rest of my life--bringing a glimmer of hope with me everywhere I go.”

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Sara Williams, Associate Director

Sara Williams, Associate Director for Community-Engaged Learning

Sara oversees the Service-Learning designation process and works directly with faculty to provide support in the development of courses using community-engaged pedagogies. She also works to provide students with a multitude of curricular and co-curricular community engagement opportunities via broad-based, interdisciplinary efforts linking action to co-curricular initiatives, teaching and research in community settings. She is available for one-on-one faculty or student consultations related to Service-Learning, Participatory Action Research, Assessment and a variety of other topics.

"I bought this Little Prince and the fox doll for my son, to remind him that genuine relationships take time and investment. In the story, the fox teaches the Little Prince that it is only when he patiently sits with the fox day after day – not to speak, but to listen and simply be with the fox next to his foxhole – that the Little Prince and the fox slowly develop a unique care and responsibility for one another. I try to emulate the fox’s lesson in my personal relationships and in my work with community partners and students, aspiring to give of the time, commitment, and vulnerability it takes to understand and engage the place and perspective of another."

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Christie Zwahlen

Christie Zwahlen, Director

Christie oversees the development and expansion of community engagement opportunities for students, faculty, and staff and generally works to further institutionalize community engagement at Miami University. She oversees the Service-Learning class designation process and is available to assist and advise faculty in the development and designation of Service-Learning classes. She also supervises interns and directs OCES staff and programs.

“I credit these floaties with my lifelong passion for Reese’s Pieces and fitness. As a kid, I used to wear these in our neighbor’s swimming pool. Swimming (and fitness more generally) has always been crucial to maintaining equilibrium in my life. Candy isn’t very good for the body, but I maintain that it’s good for the soul. We always have plenty in the office, and it absolutely brings people together. Reese’s Pieces will make any meeting better, guaranteed.”

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