Marietta College's Office of Civic Engagement has been making headlines recently for its rapid growth, innovative programming and immeasurable success on campus, in the community, and across the state.
The office announces the addition of two new faces to its team: Heather Eichner, nonprofit capacity building program manager, and Cristie Thomas, civic engagement coordinator.
Previously occupied by AmeriCorps VISTAs, these two positions were institutionalized at the end of the year due to their exceptional accomplishments - accomplishments so large they were rewarded with statewide recognition. Ohio Campus Compact presented the office with the first ever Civically Engaged Campus of Distinction Award.
"I think Amanda Dever and Meg McCrone have done amazing work to create the foundation of our office. Heather and Cristie will have the responsibility to first learn what that foundation is and then to grow it, advance the work," said Arielle Jennings, Director of Civic Engagement. "What I mean by that is to continue to push our community to think more and more complexly about what we mean by social change."
The resumes alone of Eichner and Thomas prove their shared passion for sparking civic engagement. Both served as AmeriCorps VISTAs and have extensive experience working with social justice issues and the nonprofit sector.
Eichner, who was previously the service-learning liaison at her alma mater Mount Union, worked as a board and administrative consultant for a food pantry, as well as a strategic planning taskforce member for the YWCA of Alliance. She has also served as a board member, committee member, mayoral commission member, and representative to a variety of nonprofit and grass roots organizations.
"The big thing that attracted me to this position was the collaboration between civic engagement, service-learning, and nonprofit work," Eichner said. "I love working with nonprofits and I love working with students. I've seen the work both do separately, but when brought together, the impact is on a whole new level."
Thomas has dedicated her work to social activism training and experiential education, with a focus on the issues surrounding social justice, diversity and discrimination. She has spent the last three years applying this work as a ministry partner in multiple churches to develop community leadership in social justice initiatives. Thomas is also the founder and director of a local nonprofit (be)MUCH, an organization that works with young adults to provide positive social change through education, activism, and community involvement.
"Working with students has always been a passion of mine, and it's what I've dedicated the past eight years to. There's something unique about the college student mind that lends itself to growing, learning, reaching out, and serving communities," Thomas said. "I'm excited to give direction to students' passions and help identify outlets for them to continue serving."
Eichner, Thomas and Jennings can be found in the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business.