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

Executive Director

Amy Hilgendorf, Ph.D

Associate Director for
Engaged Research and Co-Create

Brian D. McInnes, Ed.D.

Faculty Fellow

Michael Maguire, M.S.

Faculty Associate and
Undergraduate Liaison

Cynthia Jasper, Ph.D

Professor and Faculty Liaison

Alexandra Wells

Co-Create Engaged Research Specialist

Sandie Thao

Co-Create Researcher

Adrienne Theune

AmeriCorps Community-University Engagement Specialist

Student team members

Ruby Bafu, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Alicia Iverson, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Elizabeth SkoraCo-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Prerna Rana, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Vivien Ahrens, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Allison Hellenbrand, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Linnea Hjelm, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Tianna Gray, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant

Chandani Bhandari, Graduate Student Outreach and Infrastructure Intern and Co-Create Project Assistant

Giselle Monette, Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant

Doniqua Smith, Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mai Chia Xiong, Civic Health of Wisconsin Intern

Laura Evans, Graduate Research Assistant

Bakari Wallace, Graduate Project Assistant

Garret Zastoupil, Special Projects Graduate Assistant

Kayleigh Dietz, Graduate Student Web Manager

Mallory VanMeeter, Communications Graduate Assistant

Sophie MorrisCommunications Undergraduate Assistant 

Sophie HerrmannOperations Undergraduate Assistant

Kate WallnerAdministrative Undergraduate Intern

Janessa Thao, Undergraduate Fundraising and Development Intern

Kelly Fagin, Undergraduate Fundraising and Development Intern

Cuauhtemoc (Temo) Guizar, Undergraduate Outreach and Administration Intern

Bethy Olson, Undergraduate Outreach and Administration Intern

Student alumni

Jessica Fischer served as our Outreach and Administration Graduate Student Lead from 2018 to 2020 and is currently a fellow at Global Giving in Washington, D.C.

Grace Armstrong served as a Co-Create team member from 2018 to 2020 and is currently a medical student at UW-Madison.

Molly Wirz served as part of the CommNS Communications Team and performed responsibilities as the Website Manager. Molly graduated in 2021 and is currently a Design and Evaluation Analyst at the UW-Population Health Institute with the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

Dr. Troy Williams is a graduate of the Civil Society and Community Research PhD program. Troy worked as a lead project assistant for the POWER Collective.

Betsy Parker is planning to return to her position as Nature Net Director at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center – but with a new sense of understanding of and commitment to human ecological connections and meaningful nonprofit governance. She is looking forward to applying her skills and learnings in this position and potentially in other leadership opportunities as they (surely will) arise. Betsy worked for the CommNS as a Special Projects Graduate Assistant.

Alexa Heller served as a Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant.

Leo Kin-Chong Chao worked for the CommNS as a Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant.

Akshay Kaura served as a Co-Create Undergraduate Research Assistant.

Lauren Wood worked for the CommNS as a Co-Create Communications Intern.

Steering committee

A group that helps guide the CommNS as a UW-hosted Center.

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, SoHE Professor Emeritus
Ethen Pollard, Civil Society and Community Studies Graduate Student
Matthew Calvert, Youth Development Specialist, UW Extension

Advisory board

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

Bob Sorge, President, Madison Community Foundation; CommNS Planning Group Member; Inaugural Board of Advisors Chair
Diane Ballweg, President, Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation and Board Member of various area nonprofit and philanthropic organizations; teacher and pilot
Julie Bauer, Executive Director, Alliant Energy Foundation
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
Eugenia Podesta, Director, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, Vital Voices Global Partnership; Co-Owner, Synergy Co-Working
Noah Salata, American Family Insurance, Community Investment Consultant
Mark Schar, Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Stanford University; Managing Director, One Page Solutions
Tony Shields, President and CEO, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network
Stephanie Schlecht, Executive Director, Schlecht Family Foundation
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


Collaborators, friends, experts, scholars, and practitioners whose work connects with the CommNS and whose work we strive to lift up!

Erin Peot
Kasey Keeler
Boyd Rossing
EG Nadeau
Alice Pauser
Dani Rischall
Paul Mross
Laurel Lunde
Karen Reece
Molly Tomony
Jason Kauffeld
Mary Gasiorowics
Troy Washington
Abby Pansch
Ginny Hughes
Angela Rose Black
Robert Mayer
Mary Crave
Michelle Kwasny
Elizabeth O’Callahan
Geoffrey Swain
Cynthia Burnson
Elizabeth Harris
Stephanie Harrison
Amy Gilliland
Annette Miller
Nathan Larson
Dr. Siphokazi J. Ntetha