Steering Committee & Staff

Steering Committee

Lori Bakken-Civil Society and Community Studies Faculty Associate
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
Shannon Sparks
Boyd Rossing-SoHE Professor Emeritus
Ethen Pollard – Civil Society and Community Studies Graduate Student
Matthew Calvert – Youth Development Specialist – UW Extension


Mary Beth CollinsMary Beth Collins, J.D., M.A.
Executive Director
Mary Beth has professional experience as a teacher, attorney, and nonprofit director, and has always been passionate about the strength and well-being of communities, families, and mission-based enterprises. She has dedicated much of her career and free time to the “third sector”, and wishes to play a role in a critical exploration of the full potential of this sector for the future well-being of communities and society. She is excited to continue this journey at SoHE, with its long tradition of multidisciplinary and applied work focused on individual, family, and community thriving.  Through Mary Beth’s work as Executive Director of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (the “CommNS”), Director of Centers Engagement, and in developing and delivering our SoHE Professional Skills Courses, her aim is to facilitate processes and learning that will harness University of Wisconsin-Madison and SoHE assets in authentic collaboration with community partners, to make advances in the role of community and nonprofit organizations and campus partnerships to ultimately make a better Wisconsin, and a better world. She wholeheartedly believes it is an honor to work with so many amazing faculty members, staff, students, and community partners as collective purveyors of the Wisconsin Idea!  Forward!

Amy Hilgendorf
Amy Hilgendorf, Ph.D
Associate Director
Amy is the Associate Director for the CommNS. A SOHE alumna, Dr. Hilgendorf completed a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on engaged and applied scholarship. Dr. Hilgendorf specializes in community-based research and evaluation partnerships to further social justice and equity, especially related to health and education. She enjoys involving undergraduate and graduate students in projects to support their developing skills in community-based work.


Sara Ansell, MSW, M.S.
Community Outreach Specialist
As an Outreach Specialist, Sara has worked in a variety of settings dedicated to fostering equitable and healthy communities. Sara has experience in artistic community engagement strategies, coalition and partnership development, program evaluation, and strategic planning. Sara has worked in nonprofit and academic settings and is dedicated to supporting local efforts to promote equity and health in its broadest terms. Most recently, Sara served as Assistant Director of the Roadmaps to Health Action Center, part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. Sara worked with the Action Center Director to develop and lead an expansion of the community engagement activities for mobilizing action toward community health across the nation. Prior to her work with County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Sara directed the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Porch Light Program, a unique juncture of public art and public health. She managed all aspects of the Porch Light Program and worked closely with Yale School of Medicine to support their evaluation efforts of the program. Sara has also spent time at Mathematica Policy Research as a Health Policy Analyst and the Philadelphia Food Trust as a consultant where she conducted research on federal and local food assistance programs. Sara graduated with a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.

Angela Lovett

Angela S. Kennedy-Lovett
Centers Manager
Angela S Kennedy-Lovett is the Centers Manager for Child & Family Well-Being (“CCFW”) and the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies  (the “CommNS”). Her philosophy is that progress is impossible without change —  change the way we look at things and the things we look at will change. In her career, Angela has served as an administrator in public sector and university settings, an outreach manager in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, a grant writer, transformational speaker, entrepreneur, and life coach. She has always had the desire to serve the underserved and to make a difference.  She has dedicated her career and life to be the voice in the midst of silence while engaging and communicating with individuals, families, and communities.  She brings all of this energy and experience to her role and exciting journey at SoHE, helping CCFW and the CommNS do their important Wisconsin Idea work. Angela works with the spirit that “life is a masterpiece with no limitations.”

Cynthia Jasper
Cynthia Jasper, Ph.D
Faculty Liaison
Cynthia Jasper, Vaughan Bascom Professor of Women and Philanthropy, is currently chairing the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies, and is a professor in Consumer Science. Dr. Jasper’s research interests include consumer behavior and management within the retailing settings, women and philanthropy, and succession and management issues in family businesses. She authored a publication entitled, “Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy” for the Encyclopedia of Nonprofit Organizations. In addition, she was elected for the second year to serve as Chair of the University Library Committee, and she continues to serve as Treasurer of the American Council on Consumer Interests.

Michael Maguire
Michael Maguire, M.S.
Faculty Associate
Undergraduate Liaison
When he’s teaching, Michael feels as though he’s living out his purpose in life.  Our students are a significant source of that purpose for him.  Their curiosity, their genuine concern for others, and their sincere commitment to make positive change in the world inspire me!  Our Community Nonprofit Leadership major affords our students and me the opportunity to look at both “big picture” issues that affect our global community, and day to-day challenges that impact individuals and neighborhoods.  We do our best, together, to engage with the world of ideas and the reality of what contributes to healthy community life.  SoHE is the best atmosphere for him to teach what he does and to serve our Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies because it’s one of the places on our campus where big ideas and ‘wicked problems’ collide 
with creative thinking and our collective search for solutions – every day!

Travis R. Moore, M.S.
Graduate Student 
Communications & Project Assistant
Travis R. Moore takes an integrative approach to addressing civic inequities viewing community initiatives and coalition building as vital components to solving complex social issues. In his doctoral program in Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research, Travis is investigating the social-psychological mechanisms of collective action support, and the systems evaluation of non-profit, community-embedded initiatives. He studies the processes that enhance people’s and organizations’ ability to take actions to benefit the groups and communities to which they belong by using methodologically rigorous evaluation and structural modeling techniques applied through a systems lens. At the CommNS, he works with both Co-Create faculty and staff and the Obesity Prevention Initiative by supporting community-based health coalitions through research and evaluation.

Heidi Busse, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Heidi Busse is a postdoctoral research associate for the CommNS, primarily working on the Obesity Prevention Initiative. She is a recent PhD graduate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and also has an MPH from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. She has a background in public health and international development, and has managed partnerships in health systems strengthening, youth engagement, and food systems, working in the U.S. and globally. She has published on innovations and successes in community food systems, design and evaluation of multi-sector nutrition programs, and compotencies in global health partnerships. She most recently managed global health partnerships between the UW and academic and community partners in Ethiopia.

Rachel Johnson
American Evaluation Association GEDI Intern
Rachel is a PhD student in the department of Educational Policy Studies at UW-Madison. Her research interests focus on Black parents’ various forms of engagement and advocacy in schools for educational change. She helps establish spaces for Black parents for the purpose of facilitating dialogue and action that supports their vision for their children’s education. She is continuously inspired by creating and sharing spaces with other Black people and having conversations around education for liberation. She believes centering Black families in research and evaluation is necessary work to do in order to create and maintain spaces that recognize their dignity.

Alice Wang
Undergraduate Community and Nonprofit Leadership Intern
Alice Wang is a third-year student pursuing degrees in Strategic Communication and Reporting at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is passionate about digital marketing and media planning, and is having a blast working for the CommNS!


Project Team Members

Obesity Prevention Initiative (OPI)

Photo of Alfonso MoralesAlfonso Morales, Ph.D
Alfonso Morales is Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His affiliations include the School of Medicine and Public Health, the Institute of Research on Poverty, and Chican@/Latin@ Studies. He is a Vilas awardee of the UW, a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow and a dissertation fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is originally from rural New Mexico with roots in family farming, there and in West Texas. He is a researcher, advocate, and practitioner/consultant on food systems and public markets as well as the organization and regulation of these activities. He has been invited to speak on these topics nationally and internationally. He has established a nationally and internationally recognized and policy-relevant program of research on street vendors and marketplaces that has described the organization and consequences of marketplace and vending processes historically and in different places. This work has shaped policy in New York City, Kansas City, Denver, and elsewhere. His research examines the intersection of these markets with various modalities of identity, including gender and race. He has also contributed to our understanding of business organizations, public health, and food systems. This latter work joins his interests in street commerce to food distribution, production and formal organizations (like Housing Authorities). He has extensive experience with students in community-based outreach and research.

His scholarship includes four books and more than 70 articles and book chapters supported by more than $5m of grants and contracts. His broader intellectual agenda connects reasoned thought and behavior to various kinds of interaction to social organization and back again. Thus he is interested in various manifestations of thought and organization. For instance, he has written about the problem of social order among street vendors, about how Spanish-language radio stations make “irrational” programing decisions, about how women seek care for cancer, and other topics. Currently he is most occupied with food systems, particularly food distribution modalities and urban food production and the many economic and non-economic benefits of these practices. His publications are found in Spanish and English and have appeared in the top journals of five different disciplinary associations, including Aztlan, the American Journal of Sociology, Economic Development Quarterly, the Journal of the American Planning Association, and the Law and Society Review. The USDA, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Ford Foundation, and other agencies have supported his research and advocacy. He founded the Foodglossarywebpage,, a webpage for marketplaces (as well as the facebook version “openairmarketnet,” and the Metrics + Indicators for Impact toolkit (and soon to be suite of toolkits on local food systems). He has served on the governing boards of the Law and Society Association (twice) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. His work has won a number of awards and his professional service extends beyond the classroom to community organizations and on behalf of marginalized communities.

Hugh Roland, M.A.
Hugh Roland is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He is a sociology minor and an affiliate of the Center for Demography and Ecology and Center for Culture, History, and the Environment. He is a Project Assistant with the Obesity Prevention Initiative’s intervention team. His research interests include climate change and vulnerability, environmental migration, health disparities, and power and structural inequality. Before attending UW-Madison, he worked at a labor advocacy organization in San Jose and the Oakland-based public health law and policy center ChangeLab Solutions. He has worked on a wide range of public health and economic justice issues and policy pushes, providing direct research support and technical assistance. He has an MA in international history from the London School of Economics.

Additional OPI team members: Tim Fish, Becca Dower, Ethen Pollard, and Travis Moore

Natural Circles of Support Project Staff

Jeffrey Lewis

Marian Slaughter

Eun-hee Kim

Shelton Evans

Other Project Staff

Alisa Pykett, NSF Urban STEM Project

Maria Moreno, a cultural anthropologist by training, is Associate for Experiential Education with the Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health (GHI) program and as the Multicultural Outreach Manager for the Earth Partnership (EP) program. At GHI, she is part of the undergraduate certificate team to develop curriculum and courses, document impact and help manage  the program. At EP, she develops curricular materials and outreach programs centered on ecological restoration for youth, college students, community members and professional development for teachers. She also designs and teaches field course as well as supervising domestic and international internships on environmental education. She leads Earth Partnership Global Initiatives in Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

Undergraduate Community and Nonprofit Leadership Interns:
Alice Wang