Our Team


  • Cara DiEnno

    Title: Executive Director
    Phone: 303-871-2158

    Focus: Cara supports faculty, staff and students in their community-engaged work – collaborating with the community to advance social justice and live out the university's public good vision. She leads trainings and provides consultation to faculty through the center's community engaged learning and community engaged scholarship initiatives. She assists the director in managing the Public Good Fund, which provides grants to DU faculty conducting community engaged scholarship. She also provides oversight of all of the Center's student civic engagement programs, including managing the Public Good Associates and Community Engaged Student Fellows programs. In addition to supporting the campus community, she also teaches university courses using service learning pedagogy and participates in community engaged research.

    Background: In 2009, Cara completed her dissertation, "A Case Study of Social Capital and Collaboration as a Communication Process in an Urban Community-Based Ecological Restoration Project," to earn her PhD in environmental communication from the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at Colorado State University. She earned her MS from CSU as well and also holds a BS in Environmental Studies and Biomedical Sciences from Western Michigan University.

    Cara's work is grounded in her own commitment to social justice and engagement. In 2007, she was the recipient of a Fort Collins Community Civility Award from the mayor's office for service to the CSU campus and Fort Collins community. She has also received the Pioneer Award from the University of Denver for serving as an innovator and using her creative talents and unique perspectives to positively impact the community and the Outstanding Service Award for exemplifying the mission of the university.

  • Maddie Duven

    Title: Business Program Coordinator
    Email: madeline.duven@du.edu
    Phone: 303-871-3328

    Focus: Maddie's responsibilities include strategic planning, budgetary responsibilities, social media, marketing and event planning. She is the editor of the quarterly Public Good Newsletter and manages CCESL's website.

    Background: Maddie graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in business administration and minors in marketing and sociology. She participated in and led many clubs throughout her time as a student. She worked as a marketing intern for two years and serves on the board of directors for a non-profit that provides scholarships for kids in Nicaragua and Belize.

  • Angelica Ortiz

    Title: Scholar Shop Program Coordinator
    Email: angelica.ortiz@du.edu
    Phone: 303-871-5741

    Focus: Angelica serves as the Scholar Shop Program Coordinator at CCESL where she coordinates communication and marketing efforts to foster community partnerships that connect university and community change-makers. The Scholar Shop connects community organizations with students and faculty to address public problems through research and/or creative work.

    Background: With a background in non-profit marketing communications and visual design, Angelica delights in connecting and empowering people through resources and shared, meaningful experiences. Her people-centered approach to the world and dedication to community engagement led her to be extensively involved as a student. She graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Emergent Digital Practices and minors in Marketing and French & Francophone Studies.


Graduate Leads

  • Kristen Park, PhD student, Counseling Psychology

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  • Naichen Zhao, PhD candidate, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

    Focus: Naichen serves as Graduate Lead for DU Grand Challenges (DUGC). She supports DUGC program refinement and assessment, DUGC fellow-scholar mentorship and engaging students in community-engagement learning and practice for social justice.  

    Background: Naichen is a doctoral student in the Morgridge College of Education, studying Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She is an international student from China. She earned her M.A. in Translation and Interpreting in Britain and B.A. international business in China. She taught English in university for 4 years in China before she came to the U.S. for the PhD degree. Serving as the DUGC Grad Lead, her goal for this year is to host and assist events and strategic programming and planning based on a thorough understanding of diverse needs of fellows and scholars in CCESL and in the DU community. She strives to improve the DU community to be more inclusive and equitable. 


Community Engagement Luminaries

  • John Tiedemann

    Title: Teaching Associate Professor, University Writing Program

    Bio: John Tiedemann has been teaching community-engaged courses in the Writing Program since its inception. He co-founded the DU Community Writing Center, which has partnered with The Gathering Place and the Saint Francis Center since 2008. And from 2011 to 2019 he served as Faculty Director of the Social Justice Living & Learning Community. John is committed to ensuring that writing and the arts remain central to antipoverty, antiracist, and pro-worker activism and education both on and off-campus.

  • Julia Roncoroni

    Title: Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology, Morgridge College of Education

    Bio: Julia is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in the United States since 2007. In her time in the US, she has transformed the barriers she has encountered as an immigrant into initiatives for community advancement in her research, teaching, and service.

    Julia received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the University of Florida in 2016. Her pre-doctoral internship was at Harvard Medical School. She has been a faculty member in the Counseling Psychology Department, at the University of Denver (DU), since 2016.

    In the Morgridge College of Education (DU), she leads the Health Disparities Research Lab. They conduct community-engaged and patient-centered research that aims to promote health and culturally sensitive health care, particularly in racial/ethnic minority, low-income, and medically underserved communities. They use an academic-community partnership research approach and the community-based participatory research model.

    She is passionate about teaching and believes that the counseling psychology classroom can be a uniquely transformative space where students learn to connect theory and practice through experiential learning. Opportunities for students to ask questions and seek answers to them, take risks, think on their feet, and justify their response enhances their capacity to think critically about the world they live in and be cognitively flexible, culturally sensitive, and civically engaged.

  • Alejandro Cerón

    Title: Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

    Bio: Alejandro Cerón is an anthropologist interested in the social and cultural aspects of health, especially sociocultural epidemiology, public health practice, and the right to health. Prior to earning a doctoral degree in anthropology (University of Washington, 2013), he graduated as a physician and Master in Public Health in 2000 and 2006, respectively, from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. After joining DU in 2013, he started incorporating short ethnographic projects in some of his classes, like Applied Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Medical Anthropology, usually involving a community partner, and with the educational goal of bringing together experiential learning and community-engaged courses. Through this modality, Alejandro and his students produced reports on: barriers and facilitators for mental health among Latinos for a community clinic in Lakewood, CO; the needs of Latinx people in a Denver neighborhood for a grassroots organization; perceptions about mental health among young men of color for an inter-agency coalition in Denver; an assessment of the challenges faced by students, staff and faculty with young children at DU; an assessment of the perceptions about work-life balance among DU students, staff and faculty; and an analysis of a global initiative promoting kidney transplants, for a consultant at the Guatemalan office of the Pan American Health Organization. His scholarly work involves long-standing collaborations with the following organizations based in Guatemala: Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en los Sistemas de Salud (CEGSS), Fundación para el Niño Enfermo Renal (FUNDANIER), and Red de Acceso a Medicamentos de Guatemala (RedMedGua), as well as short-term collaborative projects with other organizations. In 2019, he cofounded the DU Ethnography Lab (DUEL), aimed at catalyzing collaborations among students, faculty, and community partners.

  • Bryan Rojas-Araúz

    Title: Scholar-Activist and Mental Health Provider

    Bio: Bryan is a bilingual bicultural Afro-Latino immigrant of Costa Rican and Panamanian descent. He spent his teenage years in the Bay Area, California, where he became a community organizer and DREAM activist. During his doctoral program, he was a supervisor and community liaison for the Family and Human Services program and was the Outreach, Education, and Prevention Specialist for the University's Counseling Center. He received his doctorate in Counseling Psychology with a Specialization in Spanish Language Psychological Services and Research at the University of Oregon. Bryan is currently a bilingual postdoctoral trauma therapist at Reaching Hope, where he is working to develop a Latinx and Spanish-language services program. He is also co-authoring a book, Taking Action: Creating Social Change through Strength, Solidarity, Strategy, and Sustainability and helping to create a documentary focused on the experiences of undocumented immigrants and an accompanying cookbook exploring their connection to their country of origin through food. He has nine years of experience providing bilingual mental health services and working with Spanish-speaking communities including children, adults, and families. His research and professional interests include immigration psychology, DREAMers’ mental health, ethnic identity formation, critical consciousness, and cultural competence development. He is a Hip Hop Educator, poet, documentary filmmaker and scholar-activist.

  • Kassandra "Kasey" Neiss

    Title: Data Activist

    Bio: Trained in both cultural anthropology and oral history, Kassandra's research interests include multiculturalism, food equity, urban environments, and data sovereignty. In sixteen years of collaborative organizing and fundraising, and eight years in research and data, she has developed strong systems design skills, employed a range of mixed-method research methodologies, and worked with diverse stakeholders on a range of social impact, policy, and educational projects. Her experience ranges from large data sets to ethnographic storytelling. Kassandra's work has a north star of data equity and sovereignty.

    Kassandra currently works as Frontline Farming's Data Activist and Project Protect Food System Worker's Data Lead, and also sits on various data teams in the farm, food, and hunger movements in Colorado. Kassandra launched KISN Research & Consulting in May 2020, which is a small research company specializing in qualitative research, evaluation and analysis. Some clients include Blueprint to End Hunger and Colorado Farm and Food System Response Team. Kassandra is an alumnx of DU's Anthropology Masters program.

  • Ozy Aloziem

    Title: Racial Equity Advocate & Radical Imagineer

    Bio: Ozy Aloziem, is a TEDx speaker and an award-winning Igbo social worker deeply committed to collective liberation and racial justice. Originally raised on Omaha land, she has been a visitor on Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute territories since 2015. Ozy is Denver Public Library's first Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager. In addition to her role at DPL, she is a well-regarded facilitator & speaker and has served as a racial equity & racial healing consultant for several organizations across the nation. Ozy is a scholar that is deeply committed to collective liberation and healing. As a critical Black feminist, she prioritizes racial and gender equity in her scholarship and activism. She uses this focus to amplify the voices of marginalized communities that are left on the fringes of research, public policy, and global conversation. She has been the lead researcher and equity consultant for several community-engaged projects in several countries has presented at numerous conferences in various disciplines and served as a UN Practicum Delegate for the United Nation’s Annual Commission on the Status of Women in 2019. Ozy has experience designing and conducting qualitative, quantitative, arts-based, and mixed-methods research projects in partnership with various non-profit organizations as well as the City and County of Denver. She has served as an evaluation project coordinator for the Center for Public Health Practice where she conducted research on equity-based approaches to workforce development & training program. Finally, Ozy is leading a national environmental scan of public libraries for Denver Public Library where she is using her qualitative and quantitative research talents to conduct a mixed-method research project in order to determine practical, effective models that libraries can implement to ensure that people from populations historically underrepresented in librarianship can join and grow in the field, with a supportive, inclusive institutional culture. She is a 2021 Library Journal “Movers & Shakers” award winner for her racial equity research and advocacy. Ozy believes in engaging in critical research as a radical act of freedom. Presently, her research is centered around trauma-informed & culturally responsive community engagement, the impacts of shared trauma on community organizers, radical healing, and radical imagination.


Community-Engaged Fellows

  1. Natcha Srimaneerungroj, Masters of Social Work student, Project: Snap Gap @ DU 
  2. Colin Babikian, Masters of Art in International Studies student, Project: Coding Class for Previously Incarcerated Individuals  
  3. Shipra Bhandari, Masters of Science in Business Analytics student, Project: 
  4. Derek Brannon, EdD Student in Curriculum and Instruction, Project: Teaching Care in the Climate Crisis  
  5. Katherine Calhoun, PhD student, Graduate School of Social Work, Project: Snap Gap @ DU  
  6. Lusungu Chairmbo, Master of Arts, International Development Project: Girl Scouts of Colorado  
  7. Abigail (Abi) Coyle, Masters of Arts, International Human Rights (Korbel) & Sustainable Development and Global Practice (GSSW) student, Project: Learning League Education Equity 
  8. An Dao, Masters in Public Policy - Sustainable Development Policy student  
  9. Bertrand Evans-Taylor, Masters of Arts, Arts & Culture Management, Project: Black History Tomorrow
  10. Zoe Grisez, English Major with a concentration in Creative Writing, and minor in Theatre, Project: Puksta Scholars Program
  11. Anna Mach, Master of Music - Viola Performance and Masters of Arts, Music Theory student, Project: Making Music With the World Around Us
  12. John Macikas, PhD Student, Higher Education, Project: Youth Organizing
  13. Meghan McCarroll, PhD Candidate, Geography, Project: Engaging Decision-Makers with Campus Water Literacy
  14. Karaya Morris, Masters of Social Work - Clinical Concentration student, Project: 
  15. Tala Odat, Masters of Arts, International Security student, Learning League Education Equity 
  16. Jessica Villena Sanchez, PhD Candidate, Geography, Project: Valverde Movement Project
  17. Shubham Sapkota, PhD candidate, Religious Studies, Theology, and Public Policy, Project: Seeing the Unseen 
  18. Cheyenne Smith, Masters of Arts, Higher Education student, Project: Learning League Education Equity
  19. Gabriela Recinos, Biochemistry & Public Policy Majors Undergraduate Student, Project: Black Health and a Rise Against Menthol Tobacco 
  20. Vincent Robinson, Master of Arts in Sport & Performance Psychology, Project: Youth Organizing 
  21. Seth Wyncott, PhD student, Counseling Psychology, Project: Learning League Education Equity