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 

As the Director of the Office of Professional and Community Engagement, I lead a cross-disciplinary team with the goal of facilitating transformational, high-quality engaged learning experiences for all UMSI students. I work with students, faculty, and community members from industry and the social sector to create mutually beneficial learning experiences within the framework of information issues and solutions. Our team is here to help you achieve your career goals through participation in experiences that deepen your information knowledge and holistic professional skill set.

I advise students on global, civic, community, innovation projects and opportunities and consult with students to help them create opportunities in the community that will further define their professional skill set.

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, Assistant Director, Office of Professional and Community Engagement, 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.

Jill Coughlin, Intercultural and Global Engagement Program Manager, jillianp@umich.edu

I'm interested in helping all UMSI students develop intercultural awareness and competency through meaningful global engagement. I manage UMSI's signature global engagement programs, including the Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP), Peace Corps partnerships, study abroad opportunities, and other global experiences. I lead advising, programming and related activities for all UMSI students who seek to participate in global programs, and I facilitate on-campus events and programming aimed at promoting deep global learning and intercultural awareness.

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.