Breakout Sessions

GMU Community Engaged Faculty Roundtable 1pm-3pm: 

Merten 1204 

Dr. Emily Ihara, Dr. Meagan Call-Cummings, Dr. Amy Best, Dr. Jenice View, Dr. Heidi Lawrence, George Mason University 

This roundtable will be an open discussion centering around an anti-oppressive and empowering community-engaged research paradigm that puts the needs of local communities at the forefront of research partnerships with scholars. We invite anyone interested to come and share different models and experiences about community-engaged research that can strengthen activism and advocacy in communities that are directly impacted by oppressive forces. Please come to share and listen to strategies, principles, and best practices to community-engaged research, especially those that stop the perpetuation of ghettoization, gentrification, and segregation against the communities with which scholars claim to engage.


Breakout Session #1: 1pm-1:45pm


Building Capacity from the Perspective of Community Partners

Merten Hall 1201

Moderators: Shauna Rigaud, Community Based Learning Coordinator, SAIL and Onyinyechi Ekeanyanwu, Program and Events Co-Coordinator, SAIL 

Muhammad Nabeel Hasan, Clinic Manager, Adams Compassionate Healthcare Network

Navara Cannon, Community & Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Northern Virginia Family Service
Alaha Ahrar, Community Development Advocate, FACETS


From the perspective of three of our amazing community partners, we will host a panel describing the challenges, benefits and what to consider when connecting with community partners? How can we create mutually beneficial relationships that allow for community voice and assists in building capacity at community organizations.


The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation: Harnessing the Strength of Partnerships to Train the Next Generation of Conservationists

Merten Hall 2001

Robert Barrett, Assistant Director of Recruitment and Outreach, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Ricardo Stanoss, DVM Academic Program Manager, Smithsonian- Mason School of Conservation

The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution and George Mason University, was established to address the complex, ever-evolving threats to biodiversity that demand innovative approaches to conservation biology learning. SMSC capitalizes on the strengths of its parent institutions. Mason, known for its leadership in educational innovation, brings its respected faculty, along with their portfolio of academic excellence in focal areas crucial to a world-class conservation training program. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has long been recognized for its pioneering efforts in training conservation professionals worldwide. As a partnership, SMSC represents a living-learning community where students thrive in a collaborative atmosphere of creative, analytical thinking.

This presentation examines how the missions of both institutions complement one another to foster a lifelong, global community of learning that supports visionary thinking and informed practice of conservation biology along different career paths. We will also explore the relationships that SMSC and other conservation organizations have established to provide undergraduates with an array of research and practicum experiences that enhance the learning opportunities in the hallmark semester-away programs. Examples of partners include the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW); the Center for Species Survival; the Clifton Institute; and the Blue Ridge Wildlife Rescue Center. Time will be reserved for audience questions about the forging of successful partnerships between and within large and small conservation organizations.

From the Classroom to the Community:
Developing a Faculty and Community Fellows Program

Merten Hall 1203

Kristen Wright, Associate Director for Leadership Development, Johns Hopkins University 

Service-learning (or community based learning) pedagogy is an incredible tool for developing civic-minded graduates and socially responsible leaders, but all too often we neglect to train our faculty and community leaders in service-learning and social justice pedagogy too. During this workshop we will discuss the challenges, opportunities, and techniques for developing, implementing, and evaluating a faculty and community service-learning training program based on a model used at Johns Hopkins University schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing.

Breakout Session #2: 2pm-2:45pm


Storytelling through Hmong Story Cloth: A Toolkit for Community Engagement

Merten Hall 1201

Nancy Xiong, Associate Director, Women and Gender Studies, George Mason University


Paj ntaub or story cloth has been a storytelling and historical documentary tool for the Hmong community since their days in Thai refugee camps after the Vietnam War. Hmong women have crafted their stories of struggles and daily lives as a way to cope with their experiences after losing their home country of Laos, family members and friends to the war. Crafting story cloths also became a way of earning money for families in the refugee camps. For this workshop, Nancy will share how she incorporated the art of making story cloths in her class when discussing the importance of storytelling and owning your own narratives as individuals and community members as a community engagement tool.



Leading Democratic Dialogues: Navigating difficult conversations

Merten Hall 2001

April Love-Loveless, AmeriCorps VISTA for the National Bonner Leader Program, Averett University

During the conference session, we will open the conversation to discuss democratic dialogues that students have participated in, how they worked, and how they could improve.

Following the discussion, active learning will occur in group work. The larger group will create 3-4 topics to plan a dialogue around. Then, people will split into teams based on their interests. From there, each team will plan a dialogue using the toolkit. At the end, every team will present their plan to the larger group.




Town/Gown Relations: Six Factors to Make it Stronger...The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly!

Merten Hall 1203

Sarah D’Alexander, Lead Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of Community Engagement, University of Maryland

Golshan Jalali, Media & Digital Communications Coordinator, Office of Community Engagement, University of Maryland

In the heat of a massive local redevelopment and revitalization undertaking, the Office of Community Engagement at the University of Maryland intensified its mission by working closely with members of the surrounding communities to find ways to address social needs, community assets, and quality of life issues as expressed by community partners. To begin this process, we considered the following six factors that resulted with some positive outcomes and others not so good…..