A toast to town-gown collaboration: Eastern Michigan University honors local and campus contributors in annual community engagement event

YPSILANTI – Community engagement remains at the center of Eastern Michigan University’s mission. The University honored that focus with its annual year-ending celebration of collaborative efforts with the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area.

The Community Engagement Awards event is hosted by several EMU offices and programs dedicated to community engagement. Those include Engage@EMU, the Office of Academic Service-Learning (AS-L), the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities (ISCFC), VISION and the Non-Profit Leadership Alliance.

The event was held Friday, April 7 in the Student Center. Awards and honorees included:

Academic Service-Learning Awards                               

The Dale Rice Award for Academic Innovation in AS-L and Community Engagement: Imandeep Grewal, Teacher Education

The award recognizes an EMU faculty or staff member who has created and implemented the most innovative and rich work being done in academic service-learning and community engagement on EMU’s campus. This exemplary work can be in AS-L classes, projects, community connections, trips, presentations, partnerships, etc. This award is in honor of EMU AS-L innovator Dale Rice.

Grewal, a full-time lecturer at EMU in Teacher Education and the 2016 Porter Chair, was recognized for her exceptional and creative efforts in the adaptation of EDPS 322 into a course entitled “Understanding Diversity in Public Schools: An Academic-Service Learning Project in partnership with 826Michigan, a local non-profit.” Dr. Grewal divided the course into four interdependent sections: Experience. Reflection. Conceptualization. And action. EDPS 322 is required for all educational students and through Dr. Grewal’s desire to innovate it and make it more relevant, she flipped it by situating it in a place full of unknowns – providing students a space to learn to teach and for community to be a space for such training to thrive.

The Dale Rice Award for Outstanding AS-L Community Partnership:                  

Cynthia Macknish, ESL/TESOL at EMU; Mary Anne Jaeger and Marie Schitton, Estabrook Elementary School

The three designed an after-school program that delivers activities and materials for young Estabrook English learners, helping the students move toward sharing their assets as multilingual and multicultural citizens of this world, rather than as students with a linguistic deficiency. This after-school program, bolstered by the efforts of Dr. Macknish’s TESOL methods students, provided immigrant and first-generation youth immersive language learning opportunities.  As colleague Dr. Zuzana Tomas noted, “We needed to find a way to have our preservice teachers experience this amazing multilingual and multicultural community” and through the efforts of Estrabrook and Dr. Cynthia Macknish, we do.             

Charles Smith, founder of the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and the winner of a partnership award, with Lynn Malinoff, Director of the EMU Bright Futures program.

ISCFC Partnership Award

This award honors an individual or organization who has demonstrated a high level of partnership and collaboration with the EMU Institute for the Study of Children, Families & Community

Charles Smith, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

Charles Smith is the founder and chief knowledge officer of the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.The Weikart Center provides technical support to direct service organizations that provide out-of-school time learning opportunities for children and youth. As a key partner in the development of the EMU Bright Futures program, Smith has made it possible to develop a strong cohort of EMU Bright Futures educators who are now skilled in research-based youth development practices, such as SEL (Social Emotional Learning). He has worked diligently with the EMU Bright Futures team throughout the 10 years of Bright Futures programs to develop a sustainable professional development model and continuous program improvement strategies.                                     

Engage @ EMU Award (Community & University Collaboration Award)

This award honors an individual or organization who has demonstrated a high level of collaboration and engagement with several university programs, offices and/or individuals.

Anthony Williamson, Parkridge Community Center              

Williamson, a community development manager at Parkridge Community Center, was recognized for his extensive work in service and dedication to the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor communities. A part-time lecturer in the EMU School of Social Work and an EMU Alum, Williamson has become one of the Ypsilanti’s most notable organizers and leaders. Prior to Parkridge, Williamson served as Washtenaw Community College’s Harriet Street Center program coordinator from 2001-2012. Williamson’s efforts to bridge university and community through Parkridge and its programming with the Family Empowerment Program, School of Social Work and the Africology and African American Studies program are expansive.  Since 1943, Parkridge has been a one-stop shop in the community for those who need some extra guidance in their path toward success.

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Awards

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Advisory Board Member of the year: Deb Polich

Polich, a longtime friend, colleague and alumnus of Eastern’s Arts Management Program, was honored for sharing her expertise in strategic thought, fundraising, advocacy and planning with students and colleagues alike. She is president & CEO of Artrain and president and CEO of the Washtenaw County Arts Alliance.

Susan Badger Booth, left, professor and director of the EMU Non-Profit Leadership Alliance, stands with Yodit Mesfin Johnson, winner of the NLA Community Partnership Award.

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Campus Partner of the Year: Keon Pettiway

Pettiway, an assistant professor of communication at EMU, has been instrumental in developing the University’s Pilot Board Training Program, which prepares individuals to most constructively serve on nonprofit boards.

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Community Partnership Award: Yodit Mesfin Johnson

Mesfin Johnson, CEO and vice president of strategy at NEW/Solutions for Non-profits, was recognized for her help in creating the board training program, in particular noting the importance and the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in the nonprofit sector.

Heron Scholarship: Avery Johnson and Alexa Timmreck

Each year, two Nonprofit Leadership Alliance students receive this award. Johnson, an undergraduate student, is the newly elected president of the NLA Student Organization. Timmreck has been an active member of the NLA program as both an undergraduate and now a candidate for the Master of Public Administration Program at EMU. She most recently served on the Student Funders Committee.

Lora Stevens an NLA graduate assistant, was also recognized, for her major contributions to the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at EMU, including managing the Student Funders Program this year.

Student Funders Group awards: Growing Hope and Food Gatherers

Courtney Marshal, a member of the Student Funders Group this year along with Allison Carpenter, Ariana Herrera and Alexa Timmreck, announced the awards. The Student Funders is an annual program of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and has awarded $37,500 dollars to local nonprofits since 2011 through a process of raising funds and garnering grants. This year, the program was made possible through the support of the United Way of Washtenaw County and EMU Student Government.      

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the Univesity website.


April 17, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom