Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Meet our staff

Professional Staff

Kathryn Pursch Cornforth, Director of Community Engagement

Kathryn cropped

Director of Community Engagement   206-616-0784



In the Carlson Center, I… manage the service-learning team, focusing much of my energy on developing and maintaining relationships with departments and individual instructors. I love helping students develop a critical lens on what it means to “do good” and how they can craft a career path that is aligned with their personal and professional goals.
I do this work because… working in/with/for communities has helped me learn who I am, taught me to recognize the privileged positions I hold, and given me tangible ways to participate in creating justice for all. I want to facilitate other people finding these (or other) gifts through community engagement

My favorite volunteer experience has been… teaching self-defense through an anti-oppression framework with an organization called Home Alive.

Donna Pham, Community Engagement Manager

Donna Pham

In the Carlson Center, I… lead the day-to-day implementation of our service-learning program as the Community Engagement Manager. My role involves promoting shared progress through developing relationships with and among students, faculty, and community partners.
I do this work because… of the immense growth my service experiences have afforded me. I would not be the person I am today without the opportunities I was provided to critically analyze the contexts of my identity tied to oppressive systems and social change work. I am excited to support students in their identity exploration as they work to empower communities.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… with Vertical Generation where I had the opportunity to co-lead a group of young people through their first experience climbing in a gym. Schedule a time to talk with me about service-learning challenges, articulating your service-learning experience, and how service can apply to your career trajectory.

Katie Wallace, Community Engagement Manager


In the Carlson Center, I… manage the Undergraduate Community-Based Internship Program (UCBI), as well as foster relationships with new and existing community partners.

I do this work because… it’s engaging and challenging! I deeply value relationships, experiential learning and the opportunity to enhance a student’s college experience. I love how service-learning allows students to connect with our greater Seattle community, as well as dive into the important and difficult work of exploring power, privilege and identity.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… working with high school student leaders every summer through Mt. Rainier Leadership Camp at the Cispus Learning Center.


No content inside the accordion element. Make sure your close your accordion element. Required stucture: [accordion][section]content[/section][/accordion]

Kriya Velasco, Community Partner Liaison


In the Carlson Center, I… manage faculty, community partner, and student connections. I’m also designing a curriculum for our stakeholders to better integrate the elements of service and learning together.

I do this work because… healthy communities create healthy citizens, and it is the active participation of people that creates stable, flourishing communities. I believe that service is essential to one’s growth as a human being and to our society’s progress toward equity. Service, to me, is an expression of our love for life.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… teaching yoga classes! Yoga has vast transformative powers–physically, emotionally, mentally, and otherwise and I feel honored to pass this tradition to students.

KissShonna Curtis, Communications Assistant

In the Carlson Center, I… I am the Communications Assistant under the Service Learning program. I along with three other colleagues support the various facets and operations of the service learning program. I specifically do so by updating our website and informing the public on the happenings of the Carlson Center.

I do this work because… I love the Carlson Center. I have gained access to so many resources through the Carlson Center that have helped me on my educational journey. Additionally, I love service. My life has been greatly enriched through taking a service learning course and I wanted to help provide students with the same life-changing experience that I had.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… volunteering with the Ellis Fellows during Martin Luther King Day. Each year we help make signs for the Martin Luther King Mock March or participate in service with local youth from various organizations and programs. It is always so inspiring to see that the youth are so engaged and fired up for social justice!

Aysah Jacob, Operations Assistant

In the Carlson Center, I…work as the Operations Service Learning Assistant

I do this work because… I want to be apart of a community that supports others.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… with AGE UP because the program uplifted me into someone I thought I could never be, and they didn’t get mad at me when I started an oil fire at a community center.

Lauren Plitkins, UCBI Mentor

In the Carlson Center, I… am one of the Student Mentors in the Undergraduate Community-Based Internships (UCBI) program. We support undergraduate students as they serve as interns in local nonprofits and public sector organizations.

I do this work because… having worked six years for a Seattle nonprofit, I know firsthand how valuable interns are in supporting an organization’s mission, and I really appreciate the center’s commitment to fostering collaborative, ethical partnerships between interns and host organizations. I’m also excited to facilitate workshops and learn alongside undergraduate students as we connect issues of identity, oppression, and equity to the internship experiences.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… as a youth homework helper at the Seattle Public Libraries. As a teacher in adult education, I really enjoyed the chance to engage in learning with middle and high school students. Many of the teens were the children or relatives of my adult learners, and it was fun to bond over questions and anecdotes about the adults in their lives!

Amaranta Lopez Olivares, UCBI Mentor

In the Carlson Center, I… work with undergraduate interns as a mentor focusing on personal and professional development. I also facilitate student learning on equity issues and anti-oppression work.

I do this work because… it merges my passion of student development in higher education and community work. Higher education provides great opportunities for students to analyze their identities within power structures. However, we often live in a bubble within the institution. I believe it is crucial to take our work to our communities to create positive change.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… working and facilitating multiple queer and trans* student organizations at CSU. I enjoyed creating spaces for people to grow, learn, and be present with each other within the institution, but also Fort Collins.