Setting Their Common Agenda: Inaugural Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellowship Begins

(Frederick, MD) – On August 29, thirteen associate’s degree, undergraduate, and graduate students from across Maryland, DC, and Delaware gathered for the first session of the inaugural Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellowship (TMACF) program. These students, representing campuses from Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware to American University in Washington, D.C. to Howard Community College in Maryland, were nominated by their institutions’ presidents to serve in the 2022-2023 TMACF cohort and come from a wide range of backgrounds, academic interests, and experiences. The program’s mission is to develop fellows’ leadership skills and understanding of civic and community engagement so that they may better serve as leaders in their communities and collectively create solutions to the region and world's most urgent problems.

Serving as “Stewards of Place”

Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, President of Frostburg State University and Chair of the Transform Mid-Atlantic Board, spoke at the program’s opening session about the important role that individuals working within higher education play in creating increasingly just and equitable societies through community partnerships. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Nowaczyk has served as a faculty member, department chair, faculty senate president, dean, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at many institutions throughout the United States.

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Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, President of Frostburg State University and Chair of TMA Board

After completing an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship at the University of Delaware, he was named Associate Vice Chancellor for Economic and Community Development at East Carolina University, working with community-based organizations and other stakeholders to create an environment of collaboration and commitment between the institution, faculty members, students, and the community. This work was inspired by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) seminal 2002 publication Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place, which encouraged higher education to embrace its public purposes through engagement with the greater community and society.

Working within twenty-six mostly rural counties in the state, Dr. Nowaczyk described the strong connection he discovered between community development and economic development. He launched university programs and initiatives to tackle complex socioeconomic challenges – from developing after-school programs for the children of migrant families to collaboratively devising strategies to connect at-risk community members with vital social services. He shared that these experiences and programs demonstrated the role that higher education – alongside the community – can play in catalyzing positive social change. Since then, Dr. Nowaczyk has sought to break down “the walls that…separate [colleges and universities] from the community.”

His charge to the TMACF cohort was to embrace the challenge and opportunity of serving as student leaders and advocates, and to harness the group’s collective potential: “One of the messages I am going to leave you with is [that] there is a power that you bring to the table as an individual representing not only your community, but also your institution, your college."

2022-2023 Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellows Program and Cohort

Each month, the fellows will meet with a guest speaker and focus on a specific topic or skillset derived from Transform Mid-Atlantic’s mission and strategic priorities. Between each session, fellows will engage in one-on-one conversations with each other and complete reflections about the previous month’s focus and topic. Additionally, fellows are required to create a capstone service project by the end of the fellowship year that infuses their own interests and skills in the creation of a community-engaged program, initiative, or partnership.

2022-2023 TMACF Cohort Participates in August Session
2022-2023 TMACF Cohort Participates in August Session

This year’s cohort represents the wide diversity of TMA’s partner institutions, with fellows coming from community colleges to large public institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to four-year private universities throughout the region. The 2022-2023 TMACF cohort includes:

Only the Beginning

The August session marked the beginning of the year-long program. Fellows will meet with a number of experts and guest speakers throughout the fall and spring semesters. Fall 2022 speakers include:

Parisa Norouzi, Founder and Executive Director, Empower DC

Dr. Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Adviser, Oxfam

Rev. Dr. Craig Mathies, Sr., President, Board of County Commissioners, Somerset County, Maryland

Yolanda Rushdan, Senior Program Officer, Community Impact, Delaware Community Foundation

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TMA Executive Director Madeline Yates emphasized her hope that the year ahead will be one of growth and learning for all involved in the program: “Our work is not only to bring experts to speak with you, but to cultivate your own strength as leaders, which is already resounding [in each of you].”

Stay tuned for updates about the inaugural TMACF program and cohort as the year continues. Questions about the TMACF program can be directed to Associate Director Anthony Wagner. Nominations for the 2023-2024 Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellowship program will open in November 2022.

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