August 25, 2019

Center for Community Engagement Fall Update

Greetings from the Center for Community Engagement – Happy August!

As summer 2019 winds down, and our thoughts turn to the next academic year, we want to let you know about some upcoming events and opportunities – here at the CCE, and in the community around us.

Fred Chats! Want to learn more about our area, in an informal setting with engaging hosts? Come join us for our inaugural “Fred Chat.” The first one will feature leaders from the George Washington Regional Commission, talking with us about what it means to live in a region and some of the important features of our region. Bring a lunch and join us on Tuesday August 13th at noon, in the Colonnade Room in the UC.  We hope to host a chat every month – and would welcome your suggestions on topics & speakers. Join us for the first of our Fred Chats!

Launch: We are hosting a formal launch of the Center on September 9 and would love for you to join us. Our featured event is a talk by Dr. Andrew Seligsohn, the President of Campus Compact. Campus Compact supports higher education institutions across the nation as we work to increase collaborative relationships with our communities, and support our students to commit to lives of active citizenship. His talk with be at 4pm in the Chandler Ballroom in the UC, followed by a reception and an open house in the CCE Suite (Suite 320, University Center).

Volunteer Opportunities: Looking for opportunities for yourself or others to engage in the community? We have begun posting opportunities online, through the “MyUMW portal” at the top left of the UMW homepage. Visit our Opportunity Board on the Center for Community Engagement MyUMW page: (NOTE, you may need to open this link in a Chrome browser). Or visit the COAR website to learn about COAR programs:

Voter Registration: Want to check your voter registration status or register to vote? Want students to come to your class to talk about civic engagement and voter registration? Send an email to and she can help you find the resources you need.

Time off for Service: Of particular interest to staff – Did you know that UMW gives all full-time employees up to 16 hours of paid leave to participate in volunteer activities? We have a little info, and a link to the policy here on our website.

Of particular interest to faculty: Please keep an eye out for a community engagement-focused community of practice running this fall – Community Engaged Teaching for Beginners – the call will come from Caitie Finlayson and the Teaching Center. Not a beginner? Want to share ideas and experiences? Holler back, and let’s set up some problem solving/solution celebrating brown bags this year!

Also upcoming: COAR’s Into the Streets community volunteering event on Saturday September 28th; and the roll out of a new campus civic engagement initiative, UMW Votes, throughout the fall.

Do you have any questions, issues or comments? We would love to hear from you. Please contact Leslie Martin at or Sarah Dewees at

Leslie Martin Named Faculty Director of the Center for Community Engagement

Dr. Leslie Martin has accepted the position of faculty Director of the Center for Community Engagement. Leslie is Associate Professor of Sociology and currently serves as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, having joined the UMW faculty in 2007. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from Emory University (2003) and has an M.A. (1994) in urban studies from Temple University, and a B.A. (1989) in history from The College of William and Mary. Leslie has a long history of activism around public health and social equality issues and a compelling record of community-based research. She has served on the Fredericksburg Continuum of Care, a regional coalition of homeless service organizations, and on the George Washington Regional Commission’s Affordable Housing Task Force.

At the end of this month, Dr. Sarah Dewees will be joining UMW as the Associate Director in the Center for Community Engagement. Sarah joins us after a number of years working in the nonprofit sector, most recently at First Nations Development Institute located here in Fredericksburg. Previously, she worked in the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Sarah received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Kentucky (1998), and has an M.A. in sociology from Ohio University (1992), and a B.A. in government from Oberlin College (1990).

In the coming weeks, Leslie and Sarah will be collaborating with the faculty working group on Community Engagement, providing support and guidance to COAR (UMW’s long standing student-run service board); and they will begin planning the mission and strategic vision for the Center which will officially “launch” in the spring.

Martin Appears on The Source

Leslie Martin shares her research on Richmond schools, choice and diversity on the website The Source.

UMW Community Raises More Than $3,500 for Local Homeless Families

The University of Mary Washington community has raised more than $3,500 to help provide permanent housing for local homeless families. UMW’s efforts, spearheaded by Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Leslie Martin, are part of a statewide initiative to get 740 Virginia families housed in 100 days. Professor Leslie Martin reached out to UMW faculty, staff and students to donate to the “Home for the Holidays” campaign of the Central Virginia Housing Coalition. UMW’s donations go through the “Home for the Holidays” campaign of the Central Virginia Housing Coalition, the Fredericksburg region’s answer to the state initiative. It aims to place 35 area families in permanent housing, just in time for the holiday season. For each $3,500 raised, CVHC covers a first month’s rent, a security deposit and utilities deposits for one area family. The agencies working with the homeless, including the Thurman Brisben Center and Hope House, will then provide services aimed at keeping the families in the homes long-term. “I am constantly struck by how giving and concerned all of the members of our UMW community are,” said Martin, who researches the rhetoric of homeless service providers and serves on affordable housing and homelessness task forces. When senior sociology major Kimmy Slater heard about the initiative, it reminded her of the residents at the Thurman Brisben Center, where she has been a volunteer for the past two years. With the help of fellow students, Slater decided to ask students to donate to the campaign. “Homelessness has always been near and dear to my heart ever since [I took Professor Martin’s] freshman seminar on homelessness and housing,” Slater said. Students have raised more than $300 through solicitations in residence halls and at the annual Thanksgiving dinner in Seacobeck Hall. Slater hopes the students can contribute at least $500 by the end of the semester. To make an online donation, visit UMW students, faculty and staff can drop off checks, made payable to Central Virginia Housing Coalition, or cash to Leslie Martin’s office in Monroe Hall.