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CESL welcomes new director

Individuals behind a table

Katy Strzepek and students in her Modern Africa class at St. Ambrose University held a bake sale to raise funds for Tapestry Farms, an organization in Davenport, Iowa, that assists refugees.

The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) is pleased to announce that Katy Strzepek, Ph.D. ’18, was selected as the new director of CESL. Strzepek will begin her role on February 3, 2020.

Katy Strzepek

Strzepek is currently director of the Women and Gender Studies Program and WGS Resource Center at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio; a master’s degree in African history from Northwestern University; and a doctorate in higher education administration and foundations from Illinois State University.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve at a public institution that promotes civic engagement as a core value and am thrilled to join the incredible team at CESL,” Strzepek said. “I am looking forward to using my passion for justice to collaborate with students, faculty, staff, and local and global organizations to elevate the University’s mission and core values.”

CESL dual-reports to the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs, so Strzepek will report to both Ani Yazedjian, associate provost, and John Davenport, dean of students.

“During the campus visits, Strzepek quickly emerged as a strong candidate for this position,” Yazedjian said. “Her dedication for justice and civic engagement is paramount, and her background in both academic and student affairs definitely fits well with the dual-reporting nature of CESL. I look forward to the ways she will help advance the work of CESL in the future.”

Davenport agreed. “Strzepek’s experience with transnational issues, love for education, and passion for social justice will definitely be assets to both CESL and Illinois State. I am excited to see how her experience will help advance civic engagement at this University.”

In her time at St. Ambrose, Strzepek organized the Ambrose Women for Social Justice Conference, bringing globally renowned human rights activists to campus, including Leymah Gbowee, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Liberia. The annual conference gives St. Ambrose students and community members the chance to collaborate to develop justice-based solutions to human rights problems.

Strzepek has been actively involved with organizations such as Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope, Amnesty International, the Trauma-Informed Consortium of the Quad Cities, World Relief, and the Iowa Human Rights Research Conference.

She received the American Association of University Women Distinguished Faculty Award for the state of Iowa and the YWCA of the Quad Cities Award for Racial Justice and Civic Rights. She studied abroad in both Spain and Kenya, and those experiences helped her develop her passion for teaching students to be responsible global citizens.

While earning her doctorate at Illinois State University, Strzepek also received the Paul Vogt Higher Education Dissertation of the Year Award.

Her publications include “Stop Saving the Girl: Pedagogical Considerations for Transnational Girls’ Studies,” in Difficult Dialogues about 21st Century Girls (2016), and “The Long Table of Feminism: Bringing Transnational Feminist Debates to a Small School in Iowa,” co-authored with Beatrice Jacobson and Katherine Van Blair in Transnational Borderlands: The Making of Cultural Resistance in Women’s Global Networks (2011).

“To me, community service and civic engagement must go hand in hand with a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect, and I am excited for the chance to join a university that shares my core values,” Strzepek continued. “I am looking forward to helping students enact these values through meaningful community engagement.”

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