Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good
4690 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011
Ph: (207) 798-4133
Fx: (207) 798-4120
We're located in Banister Hall, on the south side of the Chapel.
Sarah Seames, Director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, works with students, faculty, staff, and community partners to foster collaboration between the College and communities in ways that augment student learning and benefit the public good. In addition to directing the Center, Sarah supports the Alternative Break program, facilitates campus discussions on privilege, and seeks to connect the college with native communities in Maine. Her professional interests include meaningful dialogue facilitation and reflection as a tool to connect experience and learning. Sarah currently serves on the Family Selection Committee of Habitat for Humanity / 7 Rivers Maine and the Volunteer Engagement Advisory Committee for the United Way of Mid Coast Maine.
Sarah’s interest in civic engagement and public policy and her experience with non-profit organizations inform her daily work with students. Before coming to Bowdoin, Sarah coordinated community service programs at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and promoted student civic engagement at the state level in her work with the New Hampshire and Maine Campus Compacts. Nationally, Sarah has served as a Youth Engaged in Service (YES) Ambassador for the Points of Light Foundation, based in Washington, D.C. Sarah completed her Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School for Public Service, where her capstone research focused on connections between student socio-economic status, working while at college, and participation in campus activities.
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Caitlin Callahan '11, Assistant Director, works with Bowdoin’s mentoring groups, America Reads and Counts tutors, the Community Service Orientation trips, Aspirations programming, and the Common Good Grant Committee. Caitlin also advises the leaders of Bowdoin’s 28 student-led volunteer organizations.
Caitlin graduated from Bowdoin in May 2011 with a double major in Economics and Government and Legal Studies, and a French minor. As a student, Caitlin was involved in the local community as a mentor to a local student, the coordinator of the 2010 Common Good Day, and a member of the Common Good Grant Committee. She was also co-captain of the swim team, co-president of the Bowdoin College Democrats, and a Writing Assistant with the Writing Project. In addition to her position in the McKeen Center, Caitlin will be an assistant coach for the swim team.
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Shawn Gerwig, Administrative Coordinator, is responsible for the daily running of the offices of the McKeen Center. Providing administrative support for the Center director, staff, students and faculty working with community service and community-based teaching/research programs, her primary responsibilities include management of the departmental budget and finances, event coordination, oversight of the departmental web pages, development of office publications, and general public relations.
Shawn was raised with the idea of community participation and service as part of her everyday life – giving whatever you can - no matter how little. Mostly through informal and unorganized service, she and her family regularly helped elderly neighbors and fellow church congregants in whatever way they needed. Currently Shawn is a board member for Family Focus, an organization committed to providing affordable community-based services (childcare, special needs programming, information and referral, parenting support and education) for families with children in the Midcoast area. She also participates regularly in service projects directed through her church. On campus, Shawn is particularly interested in inviting Bowdoin staff to take advantage of the resources of the McKeen Center. This year she offered a weekly knitting group to produce handmade scarves for the Orphan Foundation of America Red Scarf Project and a campus wide afghan project for Tedford Housing.
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Janice Jaffe, Associate Director for Community-based Courses & Research, works with faculty, students and local agencies to develop and strengthen partnerships that enhance student learning through curricular public engagement while fostering mutually beneficial ties between the campus and community. Her primary responsibilities lie in providing consultation and support for faculty interested and engaged in community-based teaching and research. Through oversight of the Community Course Liaison program and the Global Citizens Grant, Janice also advises students in connecting their academic passions with their commitment to community engagement near and far.
In her fifteen years as a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Bowdoin Janice saw students’ depth of understanding and sense of civic engagement increase as they put classroom theory on international issues such as immigration into practice at the local level. Mentoring students in course-based collaborations with agencies including the Maine Division of Migrant and Immigrant Services, Preble Street, and the Maine Migrant Health Program also enabled Janice to deepen her longstanding commitment to addressing the needs of immigrant communities. Her work translating oral histories of Hispanic immigrants for Latino Voices in New England (2009) and as a leader of interpreter training workshops for immigrants at United Way of Portland’s Language Access for New Americans program continue to inspire her and inform her efforts to bridge cultural differences and connect students and faculty with international communities in Maine. Currently, Janice is actively involved as a medical interpreter, interpreter trainer and board member with Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic.
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Nancy Jennings serves as Senior Faculty Fellow at the McKeen Center while chairing and teaching in the Education Department. She also advises independent study projects that involve community-based research in Maine schools. At the Center, Nancy participates actively with staff in planning and programming that connects the Center’s work to the academic program. Along with Janice Jaffe, she is co-chairing a working group that is examining faculty public engagement in their research and teaching.
Prior to coming to Bowdoin, Nancy taught in K-12 public schools in Illinois and Minnesota. She has done research on educational reform in rural schools of poverty in Michigan, South Carolina and Maine. Stemming from her work in Maine, Nancy helped develop Bowdoin’s Island School Project that connects Bowdoin education students to high school students and teachers in one of three Maine island communities. Her recent research focuses on students’ transition to college and their academic and social development while in college. This work is in collaboration with other researchers from seven liberal arts college called the New England Consortium on Assessment and Student Learning. Nancy is particularly interested in looking at the role civic engagement plays in students’ academic engagement and sense of well-being.
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Luke Mondello '10, Assistant Director, works side-by-side with students to foster their growth as agents of the Common Good. Luke’s passion lies in designing educational content and thoughtful reflections. He fully applies this passion in facilitating the semester long-training for Alternative Spring Break and Alternative Winter Break leaders, preparing these students to lead their peers with awareness of the issues at hand and consideration for the communities served. Additionally, Luke helps the entire Bowdoin campus connect with neighboring Maine communities by overseeing the Bowdoin Volunteer Corps, Common Good Day, Sponsor a Family, Weekend Service Trips, and Faculty & Staff Community Action Days.
Luke initially came to the McKeen Center as a first year, when he participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Pontotoc, Mississippi. After leading that trip the following year, he served as the McKeen Fellow for the ASB program as a junior and senior. Upon graduating Bowdoin in 2010 with a degree in Neuroscience, Luke worked as an Interim Assistant Director for Bowdoin’s Residential Life Program. After a year working for Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in his native New York, he continues his career as an educator through his current work in the McKeen Center.
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