Melody Eaton

Dr. Melody Eaton received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from James Madison University; her Master of Business Administration degree from The George Washington University; and her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree from George Mason University. She holds a strong clinical, nursing administration, health policy, and educational leadership background. Dr. Eaton serves as the Commissioner on Education for the Virginia Nurses Association. She enjoys a role of Associate Director and Professor of Nursing with James Madison University School of Nursing where she teaches graduate level health policy. She has studied the effectiveness of home health care, and is published on this related topic in The Journal of Nursing Administration, and Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice. Dr. Eaton served in the role of Chair for the Legislative Coalition of Virginia Nurses for two terms, focusing on grassroots lobbying for nursing education funding and her advocacy work is also published in Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice. Dr. Eaton is a founding member of the James Madison University Health Policy Collaborative. She, along with colleagues, have studied Team Based Learning (TBL) to increase interprofessional student policy advocacy knowledge, skills, and engagement, and this work is published in Nurse Educator.

MIchael Gubser

Michael Gubser is Professor of History at James Madison University, specializing in modern European history, intellectual history, Central and Eastern Europe, and the history of international development.  His most recent books are The Far Reaches: Phenomenology, Ethics, and Social Renewal in Central Europe (Stanford, 2014) and The Practice of International Development (Routledge, 2017), co-edited with Jerrold Keilson.  He is currently working on a book on the history of ahistoricism in international development.  Dr. Gubser coordinates JMU's "Democracy in Peril?" speaker series, and his musical Into the Sun was recently performed at the Kennedy Center.

Laura Hunt Trull

Laura Hunt Trull received her BSW in Social Work from James Madison University in 2001 and her MSW in Social Work with concentration in Community Organizing and Advocacy and as a Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholar in 2009 from the University of Minnesota.  In 2015 she received a PhD in Strategic Leadership Studies with concentration in Nonprofit and Community Leadership from James Madison University.  Dr. Trull has practiced Social Work at primarily the Macro level in administration and management and in policy development and implementation with the federal Head Start program.  Her research has focused largely on community based participatory research methods, interprofessional education, social work education and health policy.  She has been a member of the JMU Health Policy Collaborative since 2013 and most recently chaired the planning of the 2017 Health Policy Summit.  She is currently Assistant Professor of Social Work at James Madison University and teaches Social Policy and in the Nonprofit Studies Minor, among other core undergraduate Social Work courses.

Gwyneth Mellinger

Dr. Gwyneth Mellinger is director of JMU's School of Media Arts & Design. A former journalist, her research interests focus on institutional racism and other identity-based inequities in news organizations and their impact on the democratic mission of the press. Her book, Chasing Newsroom Diversity: From Jim Crow to Affirmative Action (Illinois, 2013) received the Kappa Tau Alpha Frank Luther Mott Award for a research-based book on mass communication. She holds a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Kansas.

Dena Pastor

Dr. Dena A. Pastor has a dual appointment at James Madison University as a professor in the Department of Graduate Psychology and as the Associate Director of Assessment Operations in the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS). She teaches graduate courses in statistics and data management and advises students in the Assessment & Measurement Ph.D. program and the Psychological Sciences – Quantitative Psychology M.A. program. In CARS she oversees the coordination of JMU’s biannual institution-wide Assessment Days and provides guidance on JMU’s civic engagement assessment endeavors.


Kristen Shuyler

Kristen Shuyler is Assistant Professor and the Director of Communications and Outreach at James Madison University Libraries. Her current research focuses on civic engagement content in library outreach & programming, student-led outreach for academic libraries, and other creative ways to approach academic library outreach.

Emma Thacker

Dr. Emma Thacker is an associate professor in the department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education, currently teaching courses in elementary social studies education. She comes to JMU from Wake Forest University where she was a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of education for two years. Dr. Thacker taught high school social studies in central Kentucky before pursuing her Ph.D. and enjoys working with and learning from teachers and students.


Jordan Todd

Jordan is the Assistant Director of the Center for Multicultural Student Serrvices at JMU. Prior to this posiiton he was the Coordinator for Student Learning Initiatives in the Office of Residence Life. He has a Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from JMU. Much of his passion for civic engagement comes from his time as a debater in high school and college. His experiences have served as a catalyst for his professional and scholarly interests ever since. Though his primary role on campus is supporting residential education efforts, he has a deep interest in social justice and student leadership learning and development. He serves on the Student Affairs Diversity Council and Presidential Leadership Academy Planning Team as well as co-facilitates an honors inclusive leadership course. His work challenges conventional ways of knowing and learning and strives to center marginalized voices in conversations, program development, and decision-making. He is excited to explore the connections between civic engagement and student development during his time on the Civic Engagement Team.

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