#EngagedJMU Spring '19 Newsletter


SUMMARY: This is your Spring '19 update on engagement-related work at JMU. In this edition, we feature a strong civic partnership between a JMU faculty member and a local community organizer, learn about the Engagement Fellows' past year and current recruitment process and highlight the Student Engagement Mini-Grant projects.

Spotlight on engaged faculty work:

JMU Professor Susan Zurbrigg Leads Local Community and Civic Engagement

Steven Thomas (left), a Harrisonburg community organizer and advocate, collaborates with JMU faculty member Susan Zurbrigg (right) through their involvement in both the Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA) and the Harrisonburg-Rockinham chapter of Coming to the Table. Zurbrigg is a professor in the School of Art, Design and Art History.

For newcomers to the JMU community, knowledge of the northeast neighborhood of Harrisonburg might be limited to popular eateries – like Kline’s Dairy Bar or Little Grill Collective – but one JMU faculty member and a community partner have been working to change this. Susan Zurbrigg, JMU Professor in the School of Art, Design and Art History, and Steven Thomas, local community organizer and advocate, want to raise awareness about the rich history of the northeast section of Harrisonburg and what once stood where people now eagerly stand to try Kline’s flavor of the week.

“We want to bring visibility to the stories of people that have been marginalized,” said Zurbrigg, who collaborates with Thomas through their involvement in the Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA) .

NENA is a nonprofit organization located in Harrisonburg that includes the historic Newtown community. Thomas has been actively involved with the organization for about 10 years, and Zurbrigg currently serves on the board.

“We simply work to try to address and meet the unique needs of the residents of northeast Harrisonburg, which is a community that's historically black and predominantly African-American,” Thomas said.

Thomas was born and raised in the northeast community in Harrisonburg. Thomas’ mother, Karen Thomas , is the founder and current President of NENA. She has been an advocate and organizer in the Harrisonburg community since the 1970s. Thomas said that though NENA was founded in 2005, it has existed in one form or another for well over 30 years.


Urban Renewal

Zurbrigg and the board of NENA have been working closely with projects like the restoration and renovation of the Dallard-Newman house, which will become a museum for African-American history in the Northeast Neighborhood, as well as the NENA headquarters.

Click here to continue reading this article.

he Dallard-Newman house (pictured above) has been an ongoing restoration and renovation project and will become a museum for African-American history in the Northeast Neighborhood, as well as the NENA headquarters.



Learn more about NENA by signing up here for the Arc of Citizenship!



At JMU, Engagement Fellows are recent JMU alumni who focus on promoting and fostering engaged learning, community engagement and civic engagement in and around the campus community by dedicating nine months of service to one area of university engagement. Learn more about the JMU Engagement Fellows .

Please encourage your senior students to

From left to right: Joshua Stick, Scott Ingram, Liv Stephens, Livvy Call, Autumn Cox, Tyler Stanley, Alexandra Conis, Nick Swartz (Engagement Fellows Program Co-Director), Shelby Taraba, Mike Davis (Engagement Fellows Program Co-Director), Justin Bullman (Project Coordinator)

To the 2018-2019 Engagement Fellows:

What is your favorite single memory from the past year?


Livvy Call, Food Access and Security - "The establishment of the Basic Needs Coalition, and having the privilege of being involved in the collaborative process to coordinate our efforts. It gives me hope to see so many caring individuals and departments on our campus come together to better support JMU students facing hardship, which can manifest in many ways. Is there work to be done? YES. But nevertheless, it has been a very meaningful experience to be included in this initiative, and to plant the seeds of positive institutional change at JMU."

Autumn Cox, Student Connection with Engagement – "T he opportunity to work closely with the Strategic Planning and Engagement office. My coworkers show great passion for what they do, and have made me feel welcome from day one of the fellowship. It's also been a cool experience getting to know the ins and outs of JMU- very hard and important work is going on that I never noticed as a student!"

Scott Ingram, Ethical Reasoning – "T raveling to Marist College in New York to serve as the coach of JMU's Ethics Bowl team."

Tyler Stanley, Montpelier – "P articipating in all the various conferences and making many valuable connections from them."

Liv Stephens, Office of the President “A tie between touring the Northeast Neighborhood during a community clean-up day with engagement fellows from William & Mary and JMU for the Virginia Service Year Coalition and representing JMU in Rwanda as we worked there to establish university relations with universities in Kigali, set programs with Kids Play International, and strengthen ties with iDebate Rwanda.”

Joshua Stick, Valley Scholars – "W atching my seniors get into college!"

Shelby Taraba, James Madison Center for Civic Engagement – " Wow, a single favorite memory is tough, but I would have to say Election Day! It was a long 15 hour day for most of us in the Center for Civic Engagement, filled with rain and technical difficulties but the reward of motivating students and helping them through the election process far outweighed any setbacks or tiredness. A close second would be speaking at the National Press Club following the election to discuss civic engagement and voting in higher education on behalf of the Center for Civic Engagement, JMU, and higher education broadly."

'18-'19 JMU Engagement Fellows in Photos

The JMU Engagement Fellows pose with Fellows from William and Mary. From left to right: JMU Fellows Scott Ingram, Alexandra Conis and Shelby Taraba, William and Mary Fellows Leebo Tyler and Grace Hymel, JMU Fellows Liv Stephens, Autumn Cox and Tyler Stanley.


Montpelier Engagement Fellow Tyler Stanley (center) participating in an archaeological dig with two Montpelier interpreters.


Liv Stephens (left), Engagement Fellow in the President's Office, and Mike Davis (second from left), JMU Engagement Fellows Program Co-Director and Executive Advisor to the President, during a trip to Rwanda.


Shelby Taraba, Engagement Fellow with the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, poses on Election Day.


The Engagement Fellows tour Richmond with Bill Bolling, Senior Fellow in Residence for Public Service at JMU. 


'18-'19 Student Engagement Mini-Grant recipients make progress on projects

President Alger has entrusted funds to the Faculty Senate to further the university vision. As part of this effort, the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association (SGA) are partnering to offer the opportunity for students to apply for mini-grants (up to $5,000) to fund engagement projects.

Mini-grant funds may be used to support an existing engagement project or for new engagement initiatives. Read an update in The Breeze, and here's a closer look at what this year's recipients have been up to:


Stone Spring Garden Project

Allison Brandmark

“I am currently working with the teachers and students at Stone Spring Elementary school, as well as local girl scout troops and other JMU professors (Dr. Amy Goodall and Dr. Paul Goodall, both in ISAT), to build a garden in the courtyard of the school. Planning is currently underway. The girl scouts have created a vision for the garden, teachers have started working on lesson plans, students have started cleaning the courtyard, and JMU professors have determined the best planting spots and materials. We are excited to start building the garden beds as the weather warms up, so that students can have the opportunity to begin planting.”



Salvation-Army.JPEG Improving the standard of living at the Salvation Army Shelter of Harrisonburg, Virginia

Shane Chambers, Michael Pamonag, Jeremy Asher Bravo Narula

"We have noticed that the quality of life in the local Salvation Army shelter is sub-par in some regards. We strive to improve this quality of life by investing this grant into the shelter so that the residents don't have to tolerate these conditions."



Real Women in STEM

Sarah Brock

"This project aims to shift the “geek” perception of girls in STEM by providing real-life, diverse role models of social, happy girls with broad interests and hobbies outside of their enriching academic life. This is going to be done through implementation of posters and a website containing interviews of female JMU students in STEM majors, in surrounding middle/high schools in the Harrisonburg area. This will then be followed by a presentation to these schools of what life is like as a STEM major at JMU and in the future, establishing mentorships."

From left to right:  Ongeziwe Mali, Sarah Brock, Megan Guzzardi


The Teal Meal

Caroline Whitlow

"With this grant funding, the coalition Students Against Sexual Violence has planned a banquet dinner to culminate Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 25, 2019 at Hotel Madison. 100 diverse members of the JMU community including student leaders, administrators, professors, and alumni will come together to support survivors in a positive, empowering atmosphere.  Keynote speaker Laura Dunn, a prominent victims' rights attorney and founder of the national nonprofit SurvJustice, will address progress made towards survivors' rights in recent years and the impact of the Time's Up movement. My hope for this event is that it both shows survivors that the community supports them and encourages individual awareness of macro-level anti-rape activism."


JMU at Education and Hope

Emma Laney

"I have been in the planning stages, since the actual project will be from May 12th-26th, 2019. The five other JMU students who are a part of Sigma Delta Pi have been selected (Amanda Pituch, Patty Schengber, Sophie Witmer, Ashlyn Johns, and Cece Hogan) for the trip down to our philanthropy in Guatemala, and we have been going over what to expect on the trip, classes that we'll be teaching, and important cultural information that is necessary to know in order to have a safe and successful experience building relationships between Education and Hope and JMU."


Quest for Questioners!

Austin Evans

"This project seeks to engage local community students in middle and high school in the ethical reasoning methods established by JMU’s Ethical Reasoning in Action program. The project is spearheaded by junior IDLS major, Austin Evans. He uses a combination of interactive and inquiry based methods to challenge students to think about the 8 Key Questions (Fairness, Outcomes, Responsibilities, Character, Liberty, Empathy, Authority, and Rights) in an effort to gain insight through an informed perspective. Currently, Austin is working with an agricultural leadership class at Turner Ashby High School with plans to facilitate more sessions in the near future in other classrooms in both middle and high schools in the area. Check out his website."



LSVT Loud Engaged Learning Project

Carlie Louine Madsen

  Carlie-Louine-Madsen2.jpg "13 members of my online Speech Language Pathology program (class of 2020) have completed an online training that certifies us to administer a gold-standard voice treatment to patients with Parkinson’s disease called LSVT Loud. The engagement grant enabled us to gain this valuable training as students. Next, we look forward to using our new knowledge to advocate to our local communities and to our local lawmakers to bring awareness of SLP services for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Many of my cohort members will use their LSVT certification to treat people with Parkinson’s disease during their upcoming summer clinical placement."



MLK4.jpg MLK-Day2.jpg

Above: JMU students, faculty and staff participate in the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day March and Speak Out.


What's been happening with civic engagement this semester? Read on:

The Civicist, a monthly newsletter for the Madison Center for Civic Engagement and Dukes Vote.

Educating4Democracy, a blog by the Madison Center for Civic Engagement and Dukes Vote.


The #EngagedJMU conversation continues on Twitter.

Here's what your colleagues are saying:









Check out the Engagement section of the Talent Development Resource Collection!

TD.jpg left1.jpg

We've created an Engagement section within JMU Talent Development's Resource Collection, which is located on the third floor of Wine-Price. You'll find a great selection of topics covering civic engagement, community engagement and engaged learning. Do you know of a title that would make a great addition to this collection? Email us at engagement@jmu.edu or tweet a photo of the book to @JMUEngaged!


Have ideas for the next #EngagedJMU newsletter? Email us at engagement@jmu.edu or tweet us @JMUEngaged!




Back to Top

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Related Articles