headshot of cara

Cara DiEnno

Executive Director | she/her

Professional Biography

Cara is the Executive Director in DU's Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL). She is also the co-chair of the DU Collaboration for the Public Good working group and a member of the DU Grand Challenges Urban Sustainability Cohort. She serves on the City & County of Denver's Sustainability Advisory Council, Science and Research Committee.

Cara is a community-engaged scholar who has led the design and implementation of various public participation projects in collaboration with non-profits and city governments.

She has a background in social aspects of natural resources with a specific emphasis in environmental communication focused on urban residents' interactions with city greenspaces. Cara founded the Campus-City Partnerships research and practice team at DU, which brings students together with city agencies, nonprofits, and residents to collaboratively design thoughtful, rich engagement processes that center equity, address past harms, and build sustainable futures.

Through her role at CCESL, she supports faculty, staff, and students in their community-engaged work - collaborating with the community through the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.


Ph.D. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University

M.S. Natural Resource Recreation & Tourism​​​​​​​, Colorado State University 

B.S. Biomedical Sciences & Environmental Studies, Western Michigan University

Featured Publications

Walsh, E., DiEnno C.M., et at. (2023) “Moving Beyond Gentrification: Regenerative Mapping for Geographies of Radical Resilience.” CFP - Research Agenda for Gentrification - Edited Collection. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

Auerbach, J., Munoz, S., DiEnno, C.M., Walsh, E. et alt. (2023). "Displacement of the Scholar II: Re-imagining Institutional Support for PAR Post-COVID," Invited manuscript, Participatory Action Research in a Time of COVID and Beyond. [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.

Auerbach, J., Munoz, S., DiEnno, C. M., Walsh, E. et alt. (2022). Displacement of the Scholar: Participatory Action Research under COVID, Participatory Action Research in a Time of COVID and Beyond. [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 

DiEnno, C. M., Collins, L. & Martz, M. (2021). The Exhibit and Beyond: Attendees, Collaborating Organizations, and Decision Makers Responding to a Photovoice ProjectJournal of Community Engagement in Higher Education, 13(3), 1-15.

DePrince, A. P. & DiEnno, C.M. (2019). Tackling Grand Challenges: Community Engagement and Collective Impact in Public Problem SolvingMetropolitan Universities Journal, 30(2), 20-39.

DiEnno, C. M. & Plummer Taylor, S. R. G. (2017). Practicing What We Teach, Practitioner Reflections: Understanding the Impact of Service Learning on Those Who Teach It. In C. R. Crosby & F. Brockmeier (Eds.) Community Engagement Program Implementation and Teacher Preparation for 21st Century Education. (pp. 238-263). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

DiEnno, C. M. & Thompson, J. L. (February 2013). For the Love of Land: How Emotions Motivate Volunteerism in Ecological Restoration. Emotion, Space and Society , 6(February), 63-72.

DiEnno, C. M. & Hilton, S. C. (2005). An Exploration into High School Students Knowledge, Attitudes, and Levels of Enjoyment of an Environmental Education unit on Non-native PlantsJournal of Environmental Education, 37(1), 13-25.