Core team

Mary Beth Collins, J.D., M.A.

Executive Director

Amy Washbush, Ph.D

Associate Director for
Engaged Research and Co-Create

Carolee Dodge Francis, Ed.D.

Department Chair, Civil Society and Community Studies

Michael Maguire, M.S.

Faculty Associate and Undergraduate Liaison

Dr. Melissa Bublitz

Social Innovation Faculty Advisor

Alexandra Wells

Co-Create Program Coordinator



Costanza Generali

Co-Create Research & Evaluation Specialist

Sandie Thao

Co-Create Researcher



Mikala Wong

Operations Coordinator

Student team members

Inyillah Conteh, Outreach and Engagement Graduate Student Lead

Mireya Esparza,  Outreach and Engagement Undergraduate Intern

Laura EvansCommNS Teaching Assistant and Co-Create Graduate Assistant

Liz Haefeli, Undergraduate Outreach and Engagement Intern

David Hilgendorf, CommNS Teaching Assistant

Kristin Klingman, Graduate Special Project Support

Emma Luedke, Undergraduate Outreach and Engagement Intern and Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lindsey Mathews, Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant

Prerna Rana, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Micah Robinson, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Amelia Selstad, Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Mary Thao, Digital Platform Design Graduate Assistant 

Audrey Treptow, Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mallory VanMeeter, Communications and Dissemination Graduate Assistant

Steering Committee

A campus governance committee that includes faculty, community partners, and graduate students who oversee our activities and development as a UW-Madison center.

Chandani Bhandari, CommNS Graduate Student Outreach and Infrastructure Intern and Co-Create Project Assistant
Abha Thakkar, Executive Director, Northside Planning Council & Editor of Northside News
Carolee Dodge Francis, Professor, Undergraduate Program Chair in the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies
Carolina Sarmiento, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies
Constance A. Flanagan, Vaughan Bascom Professor of Women, Family, and Community & Associate Dean Emerita School of Human Ecology
Jennifer Gaddis, Jane Rafferty Thiele Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies
Karen Reece, Vice President of Research and Education Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development
Monique Liston, Founder, Joyful Militant & Chief Strategist at UBUNTU Research and Evaluation
Reginold A. Royston, Assistant Professor, Coordinator,, Black Arts + Data Futures Workshop in the Department of African Cultural Studies
Sarah Schlosser, Program Manager, Organizational and Leadership Development Program at UW-Madison, Division of Extension

Thank you to our previous steering committee team members!

Lori Bakken, Civil Society and Community Studies Professor & Evaluation Specialist
Connie Flanagan, School of Human Ecology Associate Dean
David Liners, WISDOM Director
Salli Martyniak, Forward Community Investments Executive Director
Jonathan Patz, UW Global Health Institute Director
Boyd Rossing, School of Human Ecology Professor Emeritus
Ethen Pollard, Civil Society and Community Studies Graduate Student
Matthew Calvert, Youth Development Specialist, UW Extension

Advisory Board & Affiliates

Advisory Board

External advisors who connect the CommNS to stakeholders in Wisconsin and the world while advising on opportunities and trends in the sector.

Stephanie Schlecht, Executive Director, Schlecht Family Foundation; Current Advisory Board Chair
Diane Ballweg, President, Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation and Board Member of various area nonprofit and philanthropic organizations; teacher and pilot
Dave Borghesi, Treasurer, World Affairs Council, Hilton Head; Board Member of various nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in Wisconsin and South Carolina
Rashad Cobb, Chief Operating Officer, Brown County United Way
Steve Goldberg, Owner, Steve Goldberg Consulting, LLC; Board Chair, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network
Jen Hannon, Shareholder, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.; member of Estate Planning, Estate and Trust Administration Practice Group
Liz Lefkofsky, President, Lefkofsky Family Foundation & Founder the VING project
Meredith Blair Pearlman, Director, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Noah Salata, Community Investment Consultant, American Family Insurance
Nicole Smith, Roots and Wings Foundation
Tony Shields, President and CEO, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network
Lauren Usher, Vice President, gBETA

Thank you to our previous Advisory Board members!

Julie Bauer, Executive Director, Alliant Energy Foundation
Eugenia Podesta, Director, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, Vital Voices Global Partnership; Co-Owner, Synergy Co-Working
Mark Schar, Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Stanford University; Managing Director, One Page Solutions
Bob Sorge, President, Madison Community Foundation; CommNS Planning Group Member; Past Inaugural Board of Advisors Chair
Sarah Wendt, Greater New York City Area Nonprofit Consultant
Jeanan Yasiri Moe, Director of Strategic Communications, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Board Chair, Give Back Foundation