Meet the 2019 Engaged Campus Award Winners and Finalists

April 19, 2019

The Engaged Campus Awards are designed to recognize the achievements of students, faculty, staff, alumni, community organizations, and AmeriCorps members for their work advancing the civic mission of higher education through community engagement and partnerships that positively impact students and communities.


Civic Mission Leadership

A faculty or staff member who has demonstrated leadership for higher education civic engagement and has worked to give voice to the civic mission of higher education.

Winner: Brie Swenson-Arnold

Brie Swenson-Arnold is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of Thursday Forum, a local community education program at Coe College. She specializes in early American history, the Civil War, African American and women’s and gender history. Her research focuses on gender, race, politics and popular culture in the Civil War era. In her professional roles, she has taken an avid stand in uncovering and commemorating the roles of African Americans, women, and everyday working people in transforming and building communities here in Iowa.


Finalist: Julianne Gassman

Julianne Gassman is the Director of Community Engagement at the University of Northern Iowa, an Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Recreation and Community Services, and the Campus Executive Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.  She teaches in the area of nonprofit management and is the author/co-author of numerous books and publications. Her research interests include service-learning, community engagement, nonprofit management and student debt.


Community Leadership

An alum of a member institution making strong contributions to their community and demonstrating the values of the civic mission of higher education.

Winner: Renee Murphy

Renee Murphy is the epitome of a community leader. She has been an integral part of the growth of CJM Financial and has recently founded Sassy Social Media. Renee, along with her husband, Trent, have been strong supporters of EMERGE @ Simpson, a program that develops ideas and connections among young entrepreneurs. She is one of the founding members of 100 Women Who Care Ankeny.  She is also a member of the Ankeny Rotary and manages their social media pro bono.  She is also an integral part of the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce, serving on their Board of Directors from 2016-2018.

Finalist: Ken-Matt Martin

Ken-Matt Martin is a co-founder of Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, a small professional summer repertory theatre and is entering his third year as Executive Director. He has appeared in both plays and musicals at StageWest Theatre Company, the Des Moines Social Club, and the Des Moines Playhouse. He holds degrees in Musical Theater and Journalism from Drake University and is currently a candidate for the M.F.A. in Directing at Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre. He previously served three years on the Board of Directors of Employee and Family Resources of Iowa and currently serves as member of Drake University’s National Alumni Board. Martin is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.


Emerging Leadership

A new person in the field who is making unique and innovative contributions that demonstrate strong future potential.

Winner: Jessica Klyn de Novelo

Jessica Klyn de Novelo is a 2005 Central College graduate with majors in art and Spanish. She is a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar who completed graduate study and research in Peru. She earned her M.A. in Intercultural Relations from the University of the Pacific. She is deeply passionate about experiential learning and the power of engaging students in experience to develop their talents, learn and grow. She is a member of the Pella Rotary Club board and active community volunteer. She has worked for Central College since 2005 and currently serves as the director of career and professional development. She works with hundreds of area businesses and organizations to facilitate quality experiences for students and partners.

Finalist: Megan Jeanette Myers

Megan Jeanette Myers teaches a course on the Immigration Experience of Latino/as to Iowa with a required community engagement component where students work alongside a predominantly Latino/a high-school in a neighboring town. She is a current Campus Compact Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellow and is leading a working group at Iowa State for faculty interested in community-engaged pedagogies. Myers also leads a summer study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic in which students work with small-scale farmers to design a community project and she has an active research agenda in Caribbean literature, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and community-engaged pedagogies. She has published in Chiricú, Hispania, Latino Studies, and she has a forthcoming book titled Mapping Hispaniola (2019).


Student Leadership

A student leader with demonstrated accomplishments in engaging students in meaningful service and civic engagement.

Winner: Amanda Miley

Amanda Miley is a senior Biology major at Buena Vista University from Independence, MO. She serves in many leadership roles through Student M.O.V.E. (Mobilize, Outreach, Volunteer, Efforts), Residence Life and Alternative Spring Breaks (AWOL). She has served four Campus Compact AmeriCorps terms and a summer VISTA term in Storm Lake. Through her service, she has used her knowledge and skills to enhance student organizations outreach to and with the community as well as redesigned the curriculum for our alternative spring break program. She has emphasized training and educating individuals that their service should be reciprocal and meeting a real need in the community that solves long term issues.

Finalist: Madeline Cheek

Madeline Cheek is a senior at Drake University and serves as senior editorial intern for the Drake Community Press. In this capacity, she has devoted countless hours to working with individuals across campus and in the metro area to facilitate the community engagement initiatives of the Press. She has also served at the World Food Prize, at the Drake SPROUT community garden, is a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and with Everybody Wins Iowa! At Drake, she has served on the Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Task Force and served three years as a Resident Assistant. She is a Carpenter Scholar, a full-tuition scholarship offered by through the National Alumni Scholarship Society. will begin research for hosting a food pantry on campus to help support students in the summer by providing free, healthy options.


Emerging Innovation

A recent project, program, or initiative making unique and innovative contributions that demonstrate strong future potential.

Winner: #PanthersVote, University of Northern Iowa

#Panthersvote is a new initiative to promote student voting on the University of Northern Iowa campus. The goal is to unify the efforts of multiple groups engaged in voter engagement and turnout among the UNI community, particularly students. The group has a multiprong strategy, including coordinating a variety of organizations under the #panthersvote brand, and using this common brand to get students registered to vote. Additionally, the initiative offered a variety of presentations on how to get registered and vote, as well as a speaker series on current issues in American politics to engage people both on and off campus.

Finalist: Education for Service Scholars, Buena Vista University

The Education for Service Scholars program was established in 2017 in partnership with the Iowa Campus Compact AmeriCorps program. The program provides ten full-tuition scholarships to first-generation Buena Vista County students. Students attend a weekly lab, are enrolled in a Social Innovation minor and engage in service at local non-profit agencies of their choice. The program was designed to provide local youth with the opportunity to attend college, develop their civic agency and provide an intentional support system and pathway for them to succeed. The long-term goal is that these individuals will build capacity within their agencies in the community and eventually choose to stay in Storm Lake.


Community Partnership

A campus-community partnership or collaboration that is deep, reciprocal, and transformational.

Winner: EMBARC and the University of Northern Iowa

EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center), founded in 2013, aims to help refugees expand their world of possibilities through advocacy, education, and community development. This campus-community partnership developed through two mandatory courses in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions taught by Cara Burnidge is Assistant Professor of Religion and Yasemin Sari is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. UNI students worked with resettled refugee high school students to plan a new conference that included campus tours, leadership workshops and presentations from a variety of campus organizations and entities to help the high school students understand what it takes to be successful in college and outside of it.

Finalist: Aging Services and Coe College

Students in Cognitive Psychology taught by Renee Penalver, Assistant Professor of Psychology, worked collaboratively with Aging Services of Abbe Health, an affiliate of Unity Point. Students were grouped with individuals suffering from Dementia and created a digital story of their lives for them and their loved ones to enjoy. Dementia is a progressive disease that causes varying levels of cognitive decline in attention, learning, memory, language, personality, and general understanding. This program provides students in Cognitive Psychology with an opportunity to engage with and apply class knowledge toward the community in a meaningful way. Furthermore, the videos will provide an additional memory cue for participants in helping them to retrieve important memories.


Civic-Minded Employer

An Iowa employer nominated by a member institution for its commitment to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement in community.

Winner: Vermeer Corporation

Vermeer Corporation is a manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment with headquarters in Pella, Iowa. It serves the construction, landscaping, environmental, excavation and forage markets domestically and internationally. Vermeer was started in 1948 and has transformed it into a market-changing powerhouse recognized around the world. Through the years, Vermeer has become more and more involved in education, primarily STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). It creates learning opportunities combining education and real-life experiences, including a teacher intern program that allows teachers to experience how STEM directly relates to its workforce. Vermeer has partnered with Iowa colleges and universities, including Central College in Pella.


National Service Members of the Year

Individual full-time, part-time, and summer AmeriCorps and VISTA members (in IACC programs) who have made significant contributions to building a community partner or campus department’s capacity.

Winner: Jade Riley

Jade is in his second full-time year of service as VISTA Volunteer Coordinator at Willis Dady, an organization that provides shelter, case management, homeless prevention, and veteran support for Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the surrounding area, beginning in 2017 after graduating from Coe College with a degree in theater arts and creative writing. Jade also volunteers as a mentor at the Catherine McAuley Center, at the new LGBTIA+ center ran by Tanager Place, and as the secretary for Leaders in Volunteerism.