About the Office of Professional and Community Engagement

The Office of Professional and Community Engagement (OPCE), launched in 2017, is an initiative to facilitate transformational, high-quality engaged learning experiences for all UMSI students with local and global community partners.

From organizing data for non-profits in southeast Michigan to working with human rights lawyers in India, students will help solve challenging information problems while gaining hands-on experience in their fields of interest, and learning how to work productively with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures.  Through the programs and services offered by OPCE, students engage in information and technology-related projects and action-based learning as a significant part of their studies.

The OPCE works with a wide range of community partners from all industry types and sectors, ranging from Fortune 500 tech companies to grassroots social services non-profits and to cultural and heritage industries in a variety of project-based opportunities.  Community partners can engage with UMSI students as a means to amplify the impact of their information systems and to increase their internal knowledge of appropriate and novel information practices.

OPCE Staff

Kelly Kowatch, Director, Office of Professional and Community Engagement, kkowatch@umich.edu 

Develop, implement and manage programs and activities that support the school’s mission related to social impact, community engagement, and experiential learning. Specifically, this includes providing administrative support for Citizen Interaction Design, the Global Information Engagement Program, UMSI Service Day, and A2 Datadive, and managing the Practical Engagement Program and Alternative Spring Break.

Provide career counseling and job search advice to students specifically interested in public sector (non-governmental) and international projects, internships, careers. Create collaborative opportunities for students and student organizations to engage with community partners in information projects.

D. Scott TenBrink, Manager, Citizen Interaction Design, dstb@umich.edu 

I’m interested in building community and civic engagement. I manage the Citizen Interaction Design program, where I build partnerships with cities, and connect our students with them to create information tools that support 21st century citizenship.

I can help you find ways to build experience and apply your emerging skills to the challenges facing cities and the people who want to improve their communities. I believe that information skills are important beyond your career goals; you can apply them to improve your home, neighborhood, and community.

I have a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and 10 years of experience leading and collaborating in the nonprofit sector.  I love riding my bike and traveling the world, but always return to the Great Lakes state.

Alissa Talley Pixley, Career Development and Engaged Learning Coordinator, alissat@umich.edu 

I am interested in connecting students with community partners and nonprofit organizations. In my role with the Office of Professional and Community Engagement, I facilitate experiential learning and service engagement opportunities for students, including Alternative Spring Break, Fall Break, UMSI Service Week and I work with the A2DataDive student organization. I’m always interested in how to best facilitate these partnerships, and enjoy talking about this with students and community organizations.

I also work on the school’s career development team, so you’ll see a profile for my work on the Career Development Office’s staff page as well.

Dan Cameron, Global Engagement Coordinator, dcam@umich.edu 

As the Global Engagement Coordinator, I use my experience with and passion for international education to work with study abroad advising, build relationships with new schools around the world, and help coordinate other international opportunities like GIEP and Peace Corps.

I’ve been to about 23 countries (depending on which global entities you ask) and my time living, working, studying, and traveling around the world has had an incredible impact on who I am as a person. My most recent major experience was teaching and advising in China for two years, where I spent time with (and played rugby with) people from all over the globe. 

The Mission of Engaged Learning at UMSI

The Office of Professional and Community Engagement facilitates transformational, high-quality engaged learning experiences for all UMSI students. Through our teaching, research, and professional development, we….

  • Prepare students to be change agents in information professions, and culturally and socially conscious alumni and citizens
  • Provide inclusive, equitable, and innovative information solutions to the local and global community throughout diverse sectors
  • Lead the field of engaged learning, globally and domestically, amongst Information Schools and at the University of Michigan

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Statement

The Office of Professional and Community Engagement is dedicated to amplifying students’ understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through participation in engaged learning programs. We believe that learning through practice is integral for opening minds, increasing empathy, alleviating social justice issues, and affirming humanity amongst all people. 

We seek to prepare students to be respectful and humble representatives of the School and University in the community, where reciprocal trust is valued. By engaging students and diverse communities in ethical and sustainable partnerships, we promote opportunities to deepen cultural humility and invoke self-agency through risk-taking and discomfort, ultimately creating change agents in the information profession.