Meet Our Staff

Our projects are lead by a multidiscipliary team of passionate professionals representing a variety of roles in the UM community. 

 

 

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  • Robin Faith Bachin

    Robin Faith Bachin (she/her)

    F o u n d i n g   D i r e c t o r    a n d   A s s o c i a t e   P r o f e s s o r

    rbachin@miami.edu Robin Bachin

    Robin F. Bachin is the Charlton W. Tebeau Associate Professor of History, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, and Founding Director of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE) at the University of Miami (UM). She received her B.A. from Brandeis University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, with Highest Honors in History and the History of Ideas. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. Her areas of research and teaching include American urban, environmental, and cultural history. Bachin has published numerous articles and book chapters, and delivered scholarly and public presentations, on topics including universities and civic engagement, community development and urban planningand the intersections of urban and environmental history. Her first book, Building the South Side: Urban Space and Civic Culture in Chicago, 1890-1919 (University of Chicago Press in 2004) won the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Illinois History and Heritage. Other books include Big Bosses:” A Working Girl’s Memoir of Jazz Age America (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and a co-edited volume, Engaging Place, Engaging Practices: Urban History and Campus-Community Collaboration, forthcoming from Temple University Press. Her current book project is “Sun, Sand and Surf”: The Transformation of the South Florida Environment and the Struggle to Save It.

    Bachin also is a nationally renowned leader in promoting civic engagement in higher education and has won numerous awards for this work. These include the 2020 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award from Campus Compact for exemplary leadership in advancing student civic learning and enhancing higher education’s contributions to the public good; the 2019 Impact Award for Excellence in Community Development from the South Florida Community Development Coalition; the 2016 Spirit of Service-Learning Award from the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of America; the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Key of Excellence Award for exemplary cross-campus commitment to advancing the civic purposes of higher education; and the 2013 Community Engagement Educator Award from Florida Campus Compact. She led the effort for UM to receive the 2016 Award for Most Engaged Institution of Higher Education from Florida Campus Compact and the 2015 Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement. She has received fellowships from the Graham Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Teagle Foundation, and the Driehaus Foundation to support her scholarship. Bachin also has secured over $2.5 million in funding to support CCE’s university-community projects promoting affordable housing, urban resilience, and equity in community development in South Florida.

     

  • Marisa M Hightower

    Marisa M Hightower (she/her) 

    A  s s o c i a t e   D i r e c t o r 

    mhightower@miami.edu Marisa Hightower

    Marisa Hightower is the Associate Director in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE)at the University of Miami, providing strategic and administrative leadership, which includes partnering with faculty, students, staff and community partners to promote collaboration that addresses the goals and missions of CCE. In addition to over 20 years in program management, Marisa Hightower holds a B.A. in English and a Masters in Communication Studies, which included original research on territorial behavior in public green spaces. Prior to joining the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, she was the Senior Program Manager at the SEEDS (A SEED for Success) program, which was previously funded by an NSF-ADVANCE Award. For seven years, Marisa worked closely with Kathryn Tosney, Ph.D., SEEDS Director and Professor of Biology, to foster an interactive and highly effective community that helped to create a climate of diversity and inclusion for faculty across all disciplines.

    In addition, Marisa serves on the Executive Board of the Women’s Commission at the University of Miami. Since 1971, the Women’s Commission works to create possible sustainable change for the status of women on the University campus. She volunteers as an Assistant Cubmaster and Cub Scout Den Leader during her free time.

  • Jennifer M Posner

    Jennifer M Posner (she/her) 

    S e n i o r   M a n a g e r 

    jposner@miami.edu Jen Posner

    Jennifer Posner is the Senior Manager for Policy and Programs at the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE). Jen has extensive experience as an urban planner shaping physical planning and policy initiatives that enhance neighborhood livability, sustainability, and equitable access. Through her work overseeing affordable housing and resilience initiatives at the University of Miami's Office of Civic and Community Engagement, Jen has managed the creation of accessible tools and policy initiatives that explore the impacts of climate change on Miami's vulnerable communities and the stability of its affordable housing stock. Previously, Jen spent nearly a decade with the New York City Department of City Planning where she led the agency’s policy and planning work for several large-scale initiatives in Brooklyn and helped to execute the agency’s strategic planning vision. Jen received a Master's degree in City & Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia.

  • Megan Donovan

    Megan Donovan (she/her) 

    G r a n t   P r o g r a m   M a n a g e r 

    megandonovan@miami.eduMegan Donovan

    Originally from New Hampshire, Megan attended Emerson College in Boston, MA and received a B.A. in Visual and Media Arts. She has extensive professional experience in the nonprofit sector, particularly in youth development. The influence from this experience led her to the Family, Youth and Community Sciences Master’s program at the University of Florida. In this program, she worked on a research project to create educational materials for county Extension following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Her Master’s research was a community resilience study of the Stephen Foster neighborhood adjacent to the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site in Gainesville, FL. After receiving her M.S., she returned to Boston where she coordinated a residential program at Fenway Health for patients living with HIV/AIDS and those at high risk for contracting HIV. Her most recent position was back at the University of Florida working on a research project investigating adoption and expansion of organic vegetable production systems in high tunnels in the Southeastern U.S. She also worked on a water availability and quality needs assessment of crop production growers in the USDA Southern Region. Overall, she is interested in affordable housing, the human dimensions of environmental contamination and the diffusion of innovation in agriculture. In her spare time, she loves hanging off any aerial apparatus and pretending to be a drummer.

  • Noah Garcia

    Noah Garcia (he/him)  

    D a t a   A n a l y s t 

    nxg266@miami.edu Noah Headshot

    Noah Garcia is an educator, registered architect, multidisciplinary designer, and researcher focused on issues relating to the environment and technologyworking across scales, from the body to the city. He is an Adjunct Professor at New World School of the Arts College in affiliation with Miami Dade College where he teaches Web Development. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, and a multidisciplinary Master’s degree from the University of Michigan concentrating on Human-Computer Interaction and Urban Informatics. When he is not caught up with ambitious endeavors, he finds fulfillment in observing his breathing, creating artwork, and hiking. After volunteering to restore a portion of the Appalachian Trail during his freshman year of college, he has gradually hiked sections of the trail and threatens to complete the journey one day.

     

  • James Meade Massi

    James Meade Massi (he/him)

    A m e r i C o r p s   V I S T A

    jmm7194@miami.edu James Massi

    James is CCE’s current AmeriCorps VISTA Resilience Coordinator. James was born in the United States of America, but has spent the past eight years studying in the Republic of Ireland. As a dual-national, James has spent much of his life travelling between Europe and America and has taken lessons from several country’s urban solutions. He has a higher-diploma in sustainability and feels very strongly about sustainable urban housing and transport. James views urban growth that's both dense and equitable as being key to improving the lives of people, as well as reducing global carbon emissions. James is very excited to work with CCE to forward their goal to find solutions to increase the adaptability and resilience of Miami's affordable housing. Over his year of service to the University of Miami, James hopes to bring local stakeholders and experts together to work to create an inclusive dialogue on Miami's housing resiliency and equitability.

     

  • Ana Gabriela Villamizar

    Ana Gabriela Villamizar (she/they)

    A m e r i C o r p s   V I S T A 

    Ana Gabriela Villamizar

    avillamizar@miami.edu

    Ana is excited to be doing her VISTA service in her hometown, Miami, FL. She graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Environment and Society, and supplemented that degree with minors in Psychology and Urban Planning. Prior to her service at UM, Ana worked as a research assistant at Florida State University's DeVoe L. Moore think tank, dealing with urban development and policy research. Ana also worked as a residence assistant for FSU housing, a receptionist at the Art History Department's Rose Library, a sustainability intern at EcoSwell Peru, and a research intern at The Land InstituteNow, Ana works as the Changing Neighborhoods and Gentrification Analysis Coordinator for the CCE. Ana is passionate about social justice and environmental planning, and plans to keep the two as directions for her professional career. Solarpunk and Biomimicry are two environmental movements that currently inspire her.

     

  • Chelsea Lafrance

    Chelsea Lafrance (she/they) 

    R e s e a r c h   C o n s u l t a n t 

    clafrance@miami.edu Chelsea Lafrance

    Chelsea Lafranceis from Miami Springs, Florida. Chelsea joined the Office of Civic and Community Engagement in 2019 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Inclusive Communities Coordinator. Since completing her VISTA year of service, Chelsea has worked with CCE as a research consultant on a number of affordable housing and data analysis initiatives. Chelsea graduated from Brandeis University, double majoring in Biology and Anthropology. She also minored in HSSP: Health, Science, Society, and Policy. During her time at Brandeis, Chelsea was elected as a QPoCC: Queer People of Color Coalition coordinator for three consecutive semesters on the Brandeis Triskelion executive board. She became a member of Legal Services of Greater Miami’s Young Professionals Council in 2021.

  • Joelle Dorsett

    Joelle Dorsett (she/her)

    U-LINK Research Fellow 

    jxd967@miami.eduJoelle Dorsett Headshot

    Joelle Dorsett is a second-year Counseling Psychology Ph.D.student at the University of Miami within the School of Education and Human Development. Joelle’s primary research interests center on the intersections of racial injustice, climate change, and mental health in Black and Afro-Caribbean communities. Currently, Joelle serves as the Graduate Research Fellow for the ULINK Climate Gentrification project investigating how climate issues are contributing to the displacement of residents in historically under-resourced neighborhoods. Additionally, Joelle is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Challenging Racism and Empowering Communities through Ethnocultural Research (CRECER) Lab. In this role, Joelle servesas the co-coordinator of the Kulula Project, an empirically supported, community-based interventionin partnership with Coconut Groves Cares that aims to enhance ethnic identity, socialization skills, and adaptive coping among Black youth living in the West Grove.

  • Brandon Dye

    Brandon Dye (he/him)

    G r a d u a t e   A s s i s t a n t -  H i g h   S c h o o l   P a r t n e r s h i p   P r o g r a m 

    bxd524@miami.edu Amber Brower

    Brandon Dye is a graduate of The University of Tampa where he graduated with his BM in Music Education. While he attended UT, he was the concertmaster of the UT Symphony and String Orchestra, the assistant conductor of the University Chorus, a member of Chamber Singers, Wind Ensemble, Tampa Tones, and was an active soloist and chamber musician. His most recent awards include the Sally and Jack Jenkins Service Award in 2019 and the Outstanding Musicianship, Performance, and Academic Achievement Award in 2020. He served as the Magnet Orchestra and Choir Director at South Miami Senior High School, Magnet School of the Arts in the 2021-2022 school year, the Young Mozarts Orchestral Conductor, and a violin coach for the Greater Miami Youth Symphony Summer Camp, is a violinist in the Alhambra Orchestra and sings in the Master Chorale of South Florida. In 2021 and 2022, Brandon was invited to participate in the International Porto Heli Music Festival in Greece. Brandon is currently pursuing his Master’s in Musicology where his research focuses on the popularization, dissemination, and transcription of African American spirituals. Brandon also serves as the Strings Orchestra Conductor with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. 

     

  • Matt Ellis-Ramirez

    Matt Ellis-Ramirez (he/they)  

    R e s e a r c h   A s s i s t a n t - C l i m a t e   G e n t r i f i c a t i o n   U L I N K

    mxe654@miami.edu Noah Frankel  

    Matt Ellis-Ramirez, having been born in Costa Rica and the first person in his family to attend a university, is both a first-generation student and American. These experiences have shaped Matt's passion and interest in environmental justice work. In Central America, Matt grew up having a tropical jungle as a backyard, which cemented his love for the environment, especially after moving to Chicago's "concrete jungle." Matt is now a B.S. candidate pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in ecosystem science and policy at the University of Miami's Abess Center. His passion for the environment has grown to focus-in on the junction of science and law. Matt's work is rooted in understanding the intersectional challenges of the climate crisis and working towards the interdisciplinary approaches we must apply to tackle them. Matt has worked in a shark research and conservation lab, grassroots movements, environmental law firms, and non-profits, all allowing Matt to bring a breadth of learnings to his work. He is thrilled to join the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Miami as this summer's Climate Gentrification AmeriCorps VISTA and to join them in their local pursuit for environmental justice as it intersects with displacement and affordable housing. 

  • Megan D Hennings

    Megan D Hennings (she/her)

    R e s e a r c h    F e l l o w -  C A M P 

    mdh149@law.miami.edu Megan Hennings HEadshot

    Megan is thrilled to join the Office of Civic & Community Engagement as the Research Fellow for the Climate and Equity Mapping Platform (CAMP). She is currently a UM law student and passionate about transformative solutions towards social justice and community well-being, focusing primarily on housing issues. At Miami Law, Megan is a Miami Public Interest Scholar, founding President of the Mental Health Collective, Secretary of the National Lawyers Guild chapter, and Dean’s Fellow. During her 1L summer, Megan worked with Bread for the City in Washington, DC, where she assisted with housing cases and other matters in the Legal Clinic. Currently she is a Housing Justice Intern with UM’s Environmental Justice Clinic where she works on policy tools and organizing around housing displacement and homelessness issues. Megan has earned CALI Awards in U.S. Constitutional Law I and The Criminalization of Homelessness: Causes, Policy, and Practical Lawyering Seminar.

    Before law school, Megan spent two years working at the UNC Charlotte in International Programs and two years at the Prescott College Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies in Sonora, Mexico. Megan graduated magna cum laude from UNC Charlotte in 2015 with a B.A. in Spanish and Political Science.

  • Allison Jane Griffiths

    Allison Jane Griffiths (she/her) 

    G r a d u a t e   A s s i s t a n t -  C i v i c   S c h o l a r s   P r o g r a m 

    agriffiths@miami.edu Allison Griffiths

    Alli Griffiths serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Office of Civic and Community Engagement and the Butler Center for Service and Leadership. She oversees the Civic Scholars Program, which allows undergraduate students to develop civic leadership skills and translate their academic interests into real-world problem-solving skills. Alli earned her B.A. in philosophy from Boston University, and is pursuing her master’s in mental health counseling at the University of Miami. Alli was born and raised in Key West, Florida, and she enjoys visiting home often. In her free time, she loves writing for her travel blog, travelalli.com.  

  • Noah Frasier Frankel

    Noah Frenkel (he/him) 

    P R   M a r k e t i n g   I n t e r n  

    nff15@miami.edu Noah Frankel

    Noah Frankel joined CCE in February 2022 as a general undergraduate intern for the Office of Civic and Community Engagement and has since been promoted to the PR Marketing Intern position. A native Floridan from Boyton Beach and a lifelong Miami Hurricane fan, Noah is a freshman majoring in Public Administration and Sociology and hopes to attend graduate school for Public Administration.  He is involved in two organizations on campus: Camp Kesem and Students Together Ending Poverty (STEP). His current research interests are affordable housing and homelessness. He hopes to pursue these interests in the future with a career in the civil service, specifically with the Department of Housing and Urban Development