University Relations

Name About Me

Yer Her
Campus Outreach, Recruitment, Communications and Events Coordinator
Yer Her, Campus Outreach, Recruitment, Communications and Events Coordinator, is a 2013 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and the Community Engagement Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Child Psychology and Sociology. Yer worked with College Possible and the New Sector Alliance. Her hobbies include, exploring new places to eat, going on long walks in the forest, and debating whether the book is better than the movie.

Phone: 612-626-2044

Laurel Hirt
Director of Center for Community-Engaged Learning
Director of the Center for Community-Engaged Learning, joined the University of Minnesota in July 1997 as the Student Programs Coordinator for Community Involvement Programs. Laurel has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Gender and Women's Studies from Luther College and a Masters of Arts in Higher Education and Student Development from the Ohio State University. She is a recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Service to the University and the staff recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award. Laurel has served on several community boards and is currently one of the University representatives to the Board for the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA). She lives in North Minneapolis with her dog and enjoys gardening and various artistic pursuits.

Phone: 612-625-3344

David Holliday
Assistant Director for Domestic Off-Campus Study Programs
Assistant Director for Domestic Off-Campus Study Programs, joined the CCEL in Fall 2005 after working for HECUA. He currently manages the National Student Exchange (NSE) program at the U of M. In Fall 2016 David had the opportunity to take on a new role as the 50% time Vice President for the National Student Exchange (NSE). In his free time, he organizes the annual LoLa Art Crawl and is a vintage vendor at Junket: Tossed and Found. He lives in South Minneapolis with his spouse and two kids and is active with Longfellow neighborhood events.

Phone: 612-624-6385

Bruce McGuire
Front Desk
Bruce McGuire has been managing the front desk of the office and helping keep the whole operation running smoothly since 2001. A big part of his day is taken up by managing the Community-Engaged websystem for tracking volunteer hours. He loves working with all of the students, his fellow department staffers and our community partners. He is also a soccer fanatic.

Phone: 612-626-2044

Katie Peacock
Assistant Director for Community Partnerships and Engaged Learning
Katie Peacock, Assistant Director for Community Partnerships and Engaged Learning, joined the Center for Community Engaged Learning in May 2004. She is an alumna of UMD and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She supports academic community engagement, oversees CCEL's co-curricular volunteer advising program, and teaches a section of the CESP 3901 capstone. She also serves as the primary contact for all new community partner inquiries. She has served on several community boards, currently serves on the board of In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater and is a proud resident of Powderhorn Park neighborhood where she lives with her husband and two children. Phone: 612-624-2585

Monica Siems
Assistant Director for Engaged Learning, Training and Assessment
Monica McKay, Assistant Director for Engaged Learning, Training, and Assessment, joined the CCEL in September 2004. She has been at the U of M since 1997 working in a variety of community-engaged programs. She is from Minnesota but has spent time on both coasts, having a B.A. in Philosophy from Boston University and an M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara. Her main responsibilities in the CCEL include supporting academic community engagement, managing pre-service training, and coordinating program evaluation and assessment. Her community involvement focuses on Dakota language revitalization, truth telling, and decolonization. She and her husband live in Northeast Minneapolis, two houses down from the highest point in the city.

Phone: 612-624-6574

Student Staff

Name About Me

Samira Ahmed
Peer Advisor
Samira Ahmed, is from Minneapolis, Minnesota and joined the CCEL as a Peer Advisor in September 2015. She is in the College of Liberal Arts, majoring in Biology, Sociology, and Environment with a minor in public health. When not studying she likes to draw, eat pizza, watch Netflix, or spend time hanging out downtown!

Madi Ballis
Videographer, Photographer and Digital Storytelling Faciliatator
Madi Ballis, Class of 2018, is double majoring in Art and SCMC. She participated in HECUA's Making Media Making Change program (Spring 2016) held at Saint Paul's Public Access TV station SPNN and interned with SPNN's Youth department and was a videographer for AmeriCorps CTEP program. In Spring 2017, Madi participated in HECUA's Art for Social Change program and interned with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. She is excited to be working with CCEL as their videographer and digital storytelling facilitator.

Prashasti Bhatnagar
Lead Peer Advisor
Prashasti Bhatnagar is an international student in the honors program, majoring in Sociology with minors in Public Health, Social Justice, and Neuroscience. Passionate about health policy and health disparities, she plans to get a JD/MPH after she graduates in Spring 2018 in order to fight for healthcare as a human right and get a chance to pursue her dream and work towards bringing about a change in health policy. In her free time, Prashasti loves to sing, read, write and do community work. She joined the CCEL in Fall 2014 and is a Lead Peer Advisor working primarily with the Community Engagement Scholars Program.

Chloe Colvin
NSE Peer Advisor
Chloe Colvin, Class of 2017, is majoring in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Chloe is the student adviser for the National Student Exchange program. Chloe did her exchange to the University of Hawaii at Hilo when she was a sophomore and has been working as the student adviser for the our office ever since! Chloe is passionate in her belief that everyone should adventure somewhere they've never been while they are in college. "Getting out of your comfort zone is so important and helps you discover who you really are!" In her spare time, she likes to take walks in the woods, go to live music in Minneapolis, or relax in her apartment with her cat.

Ashley Cope
Peer Advisor
Ashley Cope, Class of 2019, joined the CCEL as a Peer Advisor working with Volunteer Advising and CESP in Fall 2016. Ashley is a transfer student from UMD. She is double majoring in Art History and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and has a passion for social justice. Ashley enjoys volunteering with arts, LGBTQ+, and youth based organizations and continues to volunteer with Cedar Cultural Center, Free Arts Minnesota, and the Tretter Collection. In her free time, Ashley enjoys visiting local art museums and spending time with friends.

Ayaan Dahir
Communications Assistant
Ayaan Dahir, Class of 2017, is a Communications Assistant and a psychology major at the University of Minnesota. Along with being an avid writer and storyteller, she is a Violence Prevention Educator as well as a member of the Young Muslim Collective. Ayaan curates a blog, has written a novel, and is working on her second book. In her free time, Ayaan enjoys watching Game of Thrones and discussing race, gender, and class. She joined the CCEL team in September 2016 and is responsible for coordinating Social Media and working with the office blog.

Raegan Jaeger
Communications Strategist
Raegan Jaeger is a Comunications Strategist working on creating CCEL's new website. Previously, she served as Off-Campus Study Program Associate for HECUA and is the Art for Social Change (ASC) HECUA Program Advisor. An ASC 2015 alumna. Raegan is a ASC 2015 alumna and a Spring 2016 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota with majors in Art and English Literature. Beyond her work at HECUA she is a practicing artist and has spent much of her time as an undergrad interning and volunteering at a number of different local nonprofits.

Takehito Kamata
Graduate Fellow
Takehito Kamata is PhD Candidate in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD). Takehito started working with CCEL in summer 2016 as a Graduate Administrative Fellow leading efforts to create an online platform and designing content development to support international students doing community engagement.

Peer Advisor

Fionn Mallon
HECUA Advisor
Fionn Mallon is a new addition to the CCEL community. He started this year as an advisor for HECUA, focusing on the Environmental Sustainability domestic program. He is an alum of the program and a recent graduate of the College of Liberal Arts. His studies included Anthropology, Political Philosophy and Sustainability Studies. His current research focus is on agrarian political history and autonomous community building. He currently spends much of his time fielding questions from concerned relatives as to what exactly he plans to do with whatever it is he studied in college.

Peer Advisor

MSW Intern

Rebecca Pacis
Peer Advisor
Rebecca Pacis is a Communication Studies major and Italian minor at the University of Minnesota in the College of Liberal Arts. She is a Peer Advisor for the Center for Community Engaged Learning and a Workshop Facilitator for the Community Engagement Scholars Program. She loves languages and will be graduating in the Spring of 2018 with proficiency in both Italian and ASL. In her free time, she has several hobbies including volunteering, baking, knitting, and singing karaoke with friends!

Suzy Pagel
Peer Advisor
Class of 2019, is a Strategic Communications major with a minor in Sociology. She comes from a small town in southwest Minnesota where she has been raising chickens since 2001. However, she's loving the city life here at the U! Here on campus, Suzy is an officer of the Gopher Poultry Science Club and uses that outlet as a way to volunteer, advocate, and educate in addition to her role as a Peer Advisor in CCEL working as a Volunteer Advisor and with CESP. Lastly, she has lots of likes, but here are just a few: politics, agriculture, Doritos, and writing.


Kendall Smaby
Peer Advisor
Kendall Smaby, Class of 2019, is from Dallas, TX. Kendall joined CCEL as a Peer Advisor in Fall 2015 and works predominantly with the Community Engagement Scholars Program. She is in the Inter-College Program pursuing a self-designed degree bringing together coursework from Public Health, Political Science, and Environmental Science, Policy and Management due to her interest in pursuing a career in public health and healthcare policy. When not in class or volunteering in politics, she loves to be outside, preferably camping and hiking as she explores Minnesota.

Mackenzie Veselik
HECUA Advisor
Mackenzie Veselik joined the CCEL Team as the Making Media, Making Change (HECUA) Advisor in Fall 2016 after participating in the program during Spring 2016. She is majoring in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture.
Patrick Wells
MSW Intern