Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Meet our staff

Professional Staff

Rachel Vaughn, Director

Rachel Cropped

Director 206-685-2705 rvaughn@uw.edu

In the Carlson Center, I… have served as the director for five years, and have worked with the Carlson Center for a total of 12 years. My role is to think about the strategic vision for the center, advocate for Carlson and Jumpstart staff, and learn from our students, staff, faculty and community partners to insure our programs are always growing and changing.

I do this work because… I believe deeply in the power of community-campus partnerships to create a more equitable world.

My favorite volunteer experience… is hard to pin down! I have loved my time volunteering in food banks and shelters, being engaged with neighborhood clean ups and trail restoration/urban forest restoration, and fundraising for my son’s school. In the coming year I am deeply looking forward to engaging in volunteer work as a family, now that my kids are old enough to be helpful out there in the world!

Kathryn Pursch Cornforth, Associate Director

Kathryn cropped

Associate Director 206-616-0784 purschk@uw.edu

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 that 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 through 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.

Connect with me! 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

Katie

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.

 

Student Staff

Kriya Velasco, Community Partner Liaison

Kriya

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!

Hanh Do, General Studies 350 Student Assistant

In the Carlson Center, I… mainly support the operations of these two programs with daily tasks such as answering students’ questions/ concerns related to each program through phone calls, emails, or meeting them in person.

I do this work because… I love to serve and I admire Carlson’s Center values which focuses on community-based wisdom and knowledge. I believe that service learning is an excellent way for students to get engaged to their communities yet still be able to reflect what they learn from it to apply to their academic works.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… volunteering at Boys and Girls Club at Bellevue as an athletic coach. I had a chance to work with kids from 5 to 15 years old and that opportunity sharpens my career choice as a teacher in the future.

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.

Carmen Mejia, MSW Practicum Student Assistant


In the Carlson Center, I… I am the MSW Practicum student for the Service-Learning program. In this role, I serve our service-learning students and community partners to enhance community engagement through service-learning opportunities offered in the King County area.

I do this work because… I believe that by engaging with our communities we provide ourselves the opportunity to create diversity and equitable community while addressing societal concerns.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… helping build a home with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). Building community while building a home for a hardworking family has been one of my most rewarding experiences.

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!

Camille Medrano, UCBI Mentor

In the Carlson Center, I…am a mentor for the Undergraduate Community-Based Internships program. As a team, we provide support to student interns and community partners.

I do this work because… I believe service experience and self-reflection go hand-in-hand. My service experiences allowed me think about the space I occupy in the world in consideration of my multi-faceted identity. I hope to support students as they explore their identities and intentions, as well as advocate for communities.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… volunteering at a scholarship application event with 826LA, a literacy and writing focused non-profit in Los Angeles. I was able to get to know a high school student in a short amount of time and help her complete essays in order to apply to scholarships.

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.

Marissa Michel Jauregui, UCBI Mentor

In the Carlson Center, I…am a UCBI Mentor

I do this work because… learning never ends.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… with a local civic engagement organization in Southern California.

Chaltu Hussein, UCBI Mentor

Orlando Lugo, UCBI Mentor

In the Carlson Center, I… mentor undergraduate students who are participating in internships at non-profit organizations. I strive to meet students where they are in their equity practice and support their development of an equity framework. I encourage the learning of the emerging student leaders to help build on the strengths and potential of people that are served by the community-based organizations taking part in the program.

I do this work because… I believe the arc of the moral universe does not bend toward justice on its own. Justice and equitable outcomes require power-sharing and active involvement from everyone, including students.

My favorite volunteer experience has been… being a member of the Fair Fight Bond Fund, which collects funds and puts up bonds for people at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.