CommNS People

Staff and Core Team

Implementers of the CommNS Strategic Plan on a day-to-day basis.

Mary Beth Collins

Mary 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 HilgendorfAmy Hilgendorf, Ph.D, Associate Director
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.


Brian McInnes headshotBrian D. McInnes, Faculty Fellow
I principally work in community-based language revitalization, oral history, and educational anthropology. My current research is focused on culture and language revitalization initiatives in northern Wisconsin, holistic program evaluation for Indigenous language immersion schools, and environmental change education (Great Lakes Water Walk movement). My 2017 book, Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow, won both an American Book Award and Fred Landon Award for its portrayal of North America’s most decorated Indigenous soldier from the First World War era. As an enrolled member of the Ojibwe nation and direct descendant of the Wisconsin Potawatomi tribe, I am committed to building opportunities for increased intercultural understanding, collaboration, and critical change.

Cynthia JasperCynthia Jasper, Ph.D, Professor and 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 MaguireMichael Maguire, M.S., Faculty Associate and 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!

black and white version of UW Crest

Leonard Kin-Chong Chao, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant 



Laura Evans headshotLaura Evans, Graduate Research Assistant




black and white version of UW CrestSophie Herrmann, Operations Undergraduate Assistant


black and white version of UW CrestSophie Morris, Communications Undergraduate Assistant 


Besty Parker headshot

Betsy Parker, Special Project Graduate Assistant 


Prerna Rana headshotPrerna Rana, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant





Areli Estrada headshot

Areli Estrada Rodriguez, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant





Graduate student Elizabeth SkoraElizabeth Skora, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant





Sandie Thao headshotSandie Thao, Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant





black and white version of UW Crest Bakari Wallace, Graduate Project Assistant





black and white version of UW CrestKate Wallner, Administrative Undergraduate Intern





black and white version of UW CrestAlexandra Wells, Co-Create Research Specialist



Molly Wirz headshot

Molly Wirz, Communications Graduate Assistant





Graduate student Garret Zastoupil

Garret Zastoupil, Special Projects Graduate Assistant





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 help connect the CommNS to stakeholders in Wisconsin and the World while providing counseling 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