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Pictured above: Point Park University's Fall 2021 low-residency cohort II. Photo by Randall Coleman.

Meet Our Ph.D. in Community Engagement Students

Meet some of our Ph.D. students and learn about their prior education, research interests and career goals.

Community-Engagement_Laurie-Havrisko-275.jpgLaurie Havrisko

Prior education: B.S. in Psychology, Minors in Biology & Religious Studies, St. Vincent College; M.S. in Special Education, St. Vincent College; M.S. in Administration & Supervision, St. Vincent College; Superintendent's Letter of Eligibility, California University of PA (now PennWest)

Research interests: Family and school partnerships; special education; diversity, equity and inclusion

Career goals: To make a positive impact on students and their families.


Community-Engagement_Ashley-Malachi-275.jpgAshley N. Malachi

Prior education: B.A. in Mathematics, Wake Forest University; B.A. in Biology University of North Carolina at Greensboro; M.S. in Community Engaged Medicine, Furman University

Research interests: Using mindfulness methods as a practice to build sustainable resilience among youth who have and continue to face trauma within their lives due to social constraints and social determinants of health that keep positive outcomes out of reach to build healthy futures.

Career goals: Develop a mentorship program for youth in underserved communities who have and continue to experience trauma within their lives to restructure their path to incorporate healthy decision-making, relationships and coping skills to build a better future for their tomorrow.


Community-Engagement_Anette-Nance-275.jpgAnette Nance

Prior education:B.A. in Psychology, Ashford University;Human Services Management Certificate; MSW, University of Pittsburgh

Research interests: First-generation students and post-secondary career options/trajectory

Career goals: Education administration, professor, public policy



Atiya Abdelmalik
Dissertation: “The Factors for Success Underpinning an Era of Youth-led Community Revitalization: A Case Study of Brownsville Students in Action”

Jennifer Bailey
Research interests: Organizational culture, Carnegie classification on community engagement, higher education

Sheila Beasley
Dissertation: “Servant Leadership with a Hermeneutic of Love Practice”

Danielle Davis
Dissertation: “Faith-Based Organizations Engaged in Community Economic Development”

Aliya Durham
Dissertation: "Using Collective Impact to Improve Child Outcomes – A Case Study of the Homewood Children’s Village”

Trisha Gadson
Dissertation: “The Impact of Community Engaged Racialized Conversations on Educational Planning for African American Students”

Michael Harding
Research interests: Business specialists engaged in the social enterprise

Mychael Lee
Dissertation: “An Examination of the Organizational Structure and Practices of Grantmaking Foundations and their Impact on Grassroots Organizations”

Brett Marcoux
Research interest: Social entrepreneurship

Veronika Panagiotou
Dissertation: “Do Service-Learning Models Create an Opportunity to Cultivate Civic Engagement Outcomes at Point Park University? A Phenomenological Study of Students’ Perspectives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

John Tamiggi
Dissertation: “An Examination of the Potential Impacts and Outcomes of a Comprehensive Community Initiative Model” 

Leatra Tate
Dissertation: “Stories from the Yam: A Narrative Inquiry Centering on Black Women Sexual Assault Survivors in Higher Education”

LaWana Butler
Dissertation: “The African American Female's Perception of the Role the African American Church Played in Their Lived Experience of Intimate Partner Violence”

Ryan Cummings
Research interests: Telemedicine, telehealth, healthcare in Haiti

Brittany McDonald
Dissertation: “Understanding the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Millennial Employee Engagement”

Darrell Payne
Dissertation: “A Phenomenological Study: Factors that Contribute to the Trajectory of Nontraditional Black Male Collegians’ Matriculation and Persistence through Postsecondary Education”

Melissa Rossiter
Dissertation: “Social Network, Social Capital and Civic Engagement: An Exploratory Analysis of Social Capital in the Facebook World”

Rhonda Threet
Dissertation: “Analyzing Educators’ Perceptions on How Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Addresses Positive Racial Identity Development for African American Students”

Tammy Washington
Dissertation: “An Examination of Day-to-Day Stressors Experienced by Single Mothers in Disadvantaged Communities and Their Coping Mechanisms”

Melissa Barnhill
Research Interest: LGBTQ health

Andrew Conte
Dissertation: "Advance of the Citizen Gatekeeper: A Case Study of the McKeesport, Pennsylvania, News Desert"

Corrin Culhane
Research interests: Police/community relations

Teri Deal
Research interests: Juvenile justice, school justice partnerships

Michele Gordon
Research interests: Policy

Shannon Gregg
Research interest: Nonprofit CRM usage

Meggan Lloyd
Research interests: Foster care support in higher education, basic needs supports in higher ed

Selena Marshall
Research interests: Dehumanization in healthcare of Black women

David Maytan
Research interests: Economic development, urban design, mindfulness

Maria Montaro
Dissertation: "Millenial Targeted Recruitment and Retention Strategies in Allegheny County Nonprofit Organizations"

Blair-Alexandri Cobb
Research interests: After school programming for African-American youth communities

Rikell Ford
Research interests: Black women and girls, intersectionality, Black feminist thought, social services

Hannah Hardy
Research interests: Community planning, deindustrialized communities, public health impacts, vacant land, abandoned property

Olivia Hartle
Research interests: Improvisation, applied improvisation, applied theatre, phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, community engagement

Stephanie King
Research interest: Donor conceived persons

Patrick Maher
Research interests: Diversity in STEM/technology, leadership decision-making

Daniel Mitchell
Research interest: Corporate social responsibility

David Ohm
Research interest: Restorative art therapy engagement

Deborah Skillings-Phillips
Research interest: Hiring practices in nonprofits for executive leadership

Emmanuel Twumasi
Research Interest: Fair, free transit

Kelly Wilding
Research interest: Sustained volunteerism in Pittsburgh

Pictured is cohort 1 of the low-residency Ph.D. program. Photo by Randall Coleman.

Pictured above from left to right are Vickye Ford, Bethany Ozorak, Danielle Pilgrim and Lisa D. Simons. Photo by Randall Coleman.

Nazin Bagherynejad
Research Interests: Neighborhood assessment and development 

Jacob George
Research Interests: Millennial and Generation Z voting behavior

Amanda Johnson
Research Interests: Exploring the behavioral health landscape as it relates to community-based organizations and intersection with population health

D. Clinton Kehr
Research Interests: Social identity theory, mutual respect and incivility, cognitive reframing, employee experience design, cultural paradigm shifts, small-group learning

Judith Riegelnegg
Research Interests: Understanding the role of schools in communities, particularly as supports of access to physical, mental and behavioral health; social services, social justice, food and housing insecurity relief, adult education and central information centers in times of natural disaster

Jaime Simmons
Research Interests: 
Nonprofit organizational development, feminist activism and theory, alternative organizational structures, using art in placemaking and community development


Laurie Havrisko
Research interests:
Family/School Partnerships; Special Education; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Diona Jones

Ashley Malachi
Research interests: Using mindfulness methods as a practice to build sustainable resilience among youth who have and continue to face trauma within their lives due to social constraints and social determinants of health that keep positive outcomes out of reach to build healthy futures.

Loleda Moman

Audia Robinson

Denise Taylor-Griffith

Joy Meta
Research interests: Gerentology; Nutritional outcomes of less fortunate, elderly patients and the occurrence of hospital readmission based upon diet.

Anette Nance
Research interests: First generations students and post-secondary career options/trajectory

Helen Jackson

Joe Oliphant

Aryanna Wagner


Pictured above from left to right are Courtney Tobin, Lisa Murphy, Heather Swenson Brilla, Michelle Owens and Lauren Burkert Lazzari.

Lauren Burkert Lazzari

Research interests: The importance of familial social connections to reduce adverse childhood experiences in children. 

Lisa Murphy
Research interests: Art, art education, community and public art

Michelle Owens

Research interests: Tourism development, overtourism and gentrification

Courtney Tobin

Research interests: Queer communities, community in online spaces, political engagement and voice, and the psychology of community and relationships.

Heather Swenson Brilla

Research interests: Social network analysis, social constructionism, experiences of youth growing up in informal kinship care, food anthropology, tabletop role-playing games and socioemotional development, and the development of social capital among first-generation college students


Juan Pablo Blanco

Hawley Renee Carlson

Celina Peña

Sarah Marie Laite

Tijuani Theresa Phelps Jackson

Cindy Pietrakowski

Tiffany Monique Thomas

Claire de Mezerville López

Pictured are community engagement faculty and students during the Fall 2022 welcome weekend and symposium. Photo by Randall Coleman

Pictured are community engagement faculty and students during the Fall 2022 welcome weekend and symposium. Photo by Randall Coleman.

Selected Student Conference Presentations

  • Jennifer Bailey and Michael Harding: "Starting Down the Path of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Elective Community Engagement Classification," Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Charting the Future of Metropolitan Universities Conference.
  • LaWana Butler: “Community Impact,” Healthy Start Board, Metro Community Health Center Board, WQED Advisory Committee, Center for Urban Biblical Ministry Board.
  • Andrew Conte: "Media Oasis: Forming a University and Community Organization," Community Engagement Pathways and Strategies, Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference. 
  • Ryan Cummings, Tammy Washington and Melissa Rossiter: “Recommendations for Equitable Urban Redevelopment Without Resulting in Gentrification,” Engaged Scholarship Consortium.
  • Rikell Ford: “Creating Safe Spaces: Empowering Others to Use Their Voice,” TCOM.
  • Trisha Gadson, Heather Starr-Fiedler and Brett Marcoux"A Social Labs Impact on Race, Equality and Social Injustice Curricular/Pedagogical Models," National Conference for Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education.
  • Olivia Hartle:
    • “Improvisation, Pedagogy and Education: Comedic Improvisation as a Pedagogy for Civic Engagement,” Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium.
    • “Improvisation as a Pedagogy for Community Engagement,” Engagement Scholarship Consortium.
  • Meggan Lloyd and Jonas Prida:  "Provider Scholarship Program: A Case Study in Student Access and Affordability," Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference. 
  • Patrick Maher“Diversity Issues in the STEM Labor Market,” Point Park University Graduate Student Conference.
  • Brittany McDonald: “Establishing Cultural and Racial Diversity in Student Leadership as the Standard: A Call to Transformation,” NCORE 2018.
  • Veronika Panagiotou:
    • "Inspiring Socially Responsible Students with Human Centered Design Thinking to Support Solutions,” Association of American Colleges and Universities, Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference.
    • “The Pittsburgh Social Lab: An Experiment in Innovative Social Change,” Engagement Scholarship Consortium Annual Conference.
  • Kendra Ross:
    • "When and Where We Gather: The (Un)Certain Future of Womanism," Roundtable Participant, National Women's Studies Association.
    • "Freedom Dreams: A Black Feminist Exploration of Cultural Work in the Hill District of Pittsburgh," Presenter, Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
    • "Intersection*ology - Feminist Art, Technology and Community Engagement," International Symposium on Electronic Art, Durban, South Africa.
    • "Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory as Engaged Scholarship and Praxis," Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 

Check out some of our faculty presentation and publications

Student & Alumni Spotlight

Meet our Ph.D. in community engagement students and alumni.

Pictured is Michael Harding. Submitted photo.

Point Park MBA graduate, Ph.D. student promoted to director of business engagement at Carnegie Mellon University.