Shalom Staub, Director

Shalom joined the Center staff in September 2018. He has been involved in collaborative, community-engaged program development, pedagogy and research over his multi-sector 37 year professional career in state government, the private non-profit sector, and higher education.

Prior to arriving to Los Angeles, Staub was Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement at Dickinson College. In his 14 years at Dickinson, he collaborated with faculty colleagues to develop a civic learning and community-engagement program that was embedded in the curriculum spanning the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. While at Dickinson College, Staub was also a contributing faculty member to the departments of Religion, Sociology, Judaic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He created Dickinson’s Conflict Resolution Resource Services program, offering conflict coaching, mediation, group facilitation, and conflict skills education to the campus community. Prior to his work at Dickinson, Staub was the founding President/CEO of the Institute for Cultural Partnerships, a non-profit organization located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He had also served as the State Folklorist and later Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission, a state agency.

Staub’s publications include Yemenis in New York City: The Folklore of Ethnicity; Craft and Community: Traditional Arts in Contemporary Society; Conference Proceedings: Governor’s Conference on Ethnicity—Exploring the Impact of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Diversity on Public Policy, and numerous articles on Yemeni Jews in Israel, Yemeni Muslims in New York, folk culture and cultural conservation, and civic engagement work in higher education.

Staub received his BA and MA in Anthropology from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds practitioner certification in conflict mediation and as a conflict resolution educator.

 Douglas Barrera, Associate Director for Faculty and Community Engagement

Douglas (Doug) first joined the staff in 2008, as the coordinator for the Civic Engagement internship course. He became an assistant director with the Center in 2012. He has been involved in community engagement work for over 20 years.

At the Center, Doug works directly with faculty and community partners to develop community-engaged courses for undergraduates. He has developed and directs UCLA’s Collaboratory initiative, the Astin Community Engaged Scholars and the Changemaker Scholars programs. He also facilitates the Center’s Engaged Pedagogy Workshop series and course development for the Chancellor’s Award for Engaged Scholars initiative, and is currently developing a place-based initiative related to youth empowerment in west L.A. He serves as the Campus Champion for the center’s Jumpstart program. Doug teaches courses for the Community Engagement & Social Change minor, and is an adjunct instructor for Labor Studies.

Prior to working for the Center, Doug was a research analyst with the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships and the Higher Education Research Institute. Before coming to UCLA, he was a program director for the Consensus Organizing Institute in San Diego, and taught community-engaged courses at UC San Diego and the University of San Diego. Dr. Barrera has published scholarly articles on student development through service learning and the development of community-campus partnerships. He is co-author of the Council of Europe publication, Advancing Democratic Practice: A Self-Assessment Guide for Higher Education, and the Higher Education Research Institute’s publication, First in My Family: A Profile of First-Generation College Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971. He serves on the editorial board for Collaborations: A Journal of Community-Based Research and Practice, and was previously a member of the program board of directors for a social service agency in Pacoima, CA. Doug received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Education from the University of California Los Angeles, and an M.A. and B.A. in History from San Diego State University.

Bemmy Maharramli, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives

Bemmy joined the Center’s team in July 2020. She brings with her experience as a practitioner in the environmental and international development field. She earned her Ph.D. in Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where a central focus of her urban social-ecological research was community engagement.

At the Center, Bemmy is responsible for advancing community-engaged scholarship institutionally. This encompasses working closely with departments to develop Community Engagement Frameworks, including experiential learning courses, community-based research and facilitating socially innovative ways to enable sustained and reciprocal partnerships. She provides leadership in removing structural barriers, creating incentives and expanding resources for engaged teaching and scholarship. Bemmy oversees the Center’s environmental, sustainability and international development efforts.

Bemmy was a Senior Pedagogical Fellow at UCI’s Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation, where she developed and led campus-wide pedagogical workshops. She was a UCI Engage Fellow, contributing to the campus’ community engagement hub. She serves as a member of the City of Irvine’s Green Ribbon Committee that advises the City Council on sustainability policies. Before pursuing her Ph.D. Bemmy was the Manager of the Food Security Initiative at Conservation International in Washington D.C, where she played a leadership role in the collaborative development of the institution’s food security strategy. At USAID in Baku, Azerbaijan, Bemmy was a Project Management Specialist for public health and environmental policy projects. After earning her M.S.E.S. in Ecology and a M.P.A. in Environmental Policy from Indiana University, Bemmy worked as a Program Officer at The Ocean Foundation, managing grant processes for community-based marine organizations and supporting projects through donor cultivation and proposal management. Bemmy earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of San Diego. Her publications include The Social Ecology of the Anthropocene, Cities as a Transformative Nexus, and is working on collaborative writing projects related to civic ecology practices, urban dimensions of environmental peacebuilding, and higher education and community interactions in advancing urban social-ecological resilience.

Megan Lebre, Academic Coordinator

Megan manages undergraduate academic programs and initiatives within the Center for Community Engagement, including the Community Engagement & Social Change minor and the 195CE internship program. She also coordinates the strategic communication and outreach for programs across the Undergraduate Education Initiatives (UEI) unit.

Before starting at the Center, Megan served as the Academic Advisor and Program Coordinator for the UCLA Undergraduate Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program. Prior to UCLA, she supported student development through advising, community engagement, and leadership programs at the University of California- Berkeley, California State University- East Bay, University of Portland, and University of Oklahoma. Megan is interested in connecting theory, research, practice, and reflexivity regarding community engagement and social justice and how these experiences inform career pathways.

As a graduate student, Megan assisted with the design and facilitation of the course, Community-University Engagement toward Social Justice. She is a contributing author of the publication, Engaged Research and Practice: Higher Education and the Pursuit of the Public Good. She also serves as a mentor and writing group member for Advising Communities of Excellence (ACE) at UCLA. Megan received her M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education and her B.A. in Communication with a Nonprofit Organizational Studies minor from the University of Oklahoma.

Maritza Sondhi, Academic Advisor

Maritza advises undergraduates on the Community Engagement and Social Change (CESC) minor. Maritza is an academic counselor within the College of Letters and Science. Before coming to UCLA, she was an academic counselor at California State University, Los Angeles. Prior to that, she worked at the Financial Aid Office at Los Angeles Pierce College and various offices at California State University Northridge such as Student Outreach and Recruitment, Matador Involvement Center, and Career Center. As a first-generation college student, she believes that every student can succeed with the right support and guidance. She is passionate about helping students achieve their personal and academic goals. Maritza earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Masters of Science in Counseling, with an emphasis in College Counseling and Student Services from California State University Northridge (CSUN).

Sarah Jo Torgrimson, 195CE Senior TA Coordinator

Sarah Jo is currently a doctoral student at UCLA working towards a PhD in human development & psychology. Her research examines brain and behavior correlates of children’s self-regulation in order to better understand children’s approaches to learning. Before coming to UCLA, she was a lab manager in developmental neuropsychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and served as an education director at a non-profit. She received an M.A in Education from UCLA in 2018 and B.S. in Psychology from UMass Amherst in 2014.

Andrew Hawkins, Jumpstart Senior Site Manager

Andrew manages the day to day operations of Jumpstart, a nationally recognized early literacy program. Andrew is committed to amplifying the talents of both Jumpstart’s college students and preschool children in ways historically underappreciated by traditional schooling. His interest in early education first ignited from his experience as a Jumpstart Team Leader at UCLA. Often serving as one of a handful of men in the corps, he realized the urgent need for stronger representation in the preschool classroom, especially for Black and Brown men in lead teaching roles. A youth mentor at heart, Andrew served in various student-directed roles before returning to UCLA in his current capacity, including Financial Programming Director for the college outreach organization, M.E.N.T.E. (Mentors Empowering and Nurturing through Education) and as a first grade teacher with UP Academy Holland, a public charter school in Boston, MA. Most recently, Andrew was the leading Case Manager for the Los Angeles branch of the Department of Labor led Compass Rose Collaborative Reentry project, providing holistic case management and trauma informed supportive services for justice-involved men. Andrew’s persistence in removing barriers for justice-impacted youth contributed to a 98% graduation rate from the collaborative’s pathway to employment model. Andrew received his B.A. in Anthropology with an Education minor from the University of California, Los Angeles. In his free time, you can find him indulging in live classic R&B performances or enjoying scenic national parks across the southwest.

Nancy Ohia 

Program Representative