We are an interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, students, and community members.

Center for Community Work & Learning

D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch

Director | Center for Community Work & Learning
Strategic Director | Office of Scholarly Engagement

D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch has been with St. Catherine University’s Center since August 2007. D’Ann’s commitment to community-engaged learning is a result of her experience with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, working with immigrant families on St. Paul’s West Side for almost a decade through the Jane Addams School for Democracy. D’Ann has a Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership, with a focus on community engagement.

Jinath Tasnim

Service-Learning Program Coordinator

Jinath Tasnim is the service-learning program coordinator with St. Catherine University’s Center for Community Work and Learning (CWL), weaving together Twin Cities’ community partner needs with St. Kate’s community-engaged course objectives for mutual and public benefit. Jinath has a degree in geography from Macalester College.

Kieu Mi Phi

WTDN Program Coordinator

Kieu Mi Phi is the newly appointed program coordinator of Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?, as well as a Saint Kates Alumni. She has previously acted as a project assistant for the Minnesota Council on Economic Education and project: Centering Social Justice and Equity in a Public Health Curriculum. She is passionate about social justice and public health, as both are intertwined in the fight for human rights. Kieu Mi creates a path for all communication and is able to link members of the community to the many resources we have to offer.

Sophie B. Hunt

Associate Director| Center for Community Work & Learning

Sophie Hunt joined the Center for Community Work & Learning at St. Kate’s in February 2022. She previously worked in public history and community engagement in the Twin Cities through roles with Hennepin History Museum, Minnesota Historical Society, and the public humanities initiative Minnesota Transform. Sophie has a PhD in History from the University of Michigan. She grew up in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Collaborators

Dr. Elizabeth Brondos Fry – Mathematical Sciences

Dr. Elizabeth Brondos Fry is a faculty member in the Mathematical Sciences department and teaches statistics and data science courses. She teaches an introductory data visualization class (DSCI 1000: Telling Stories with Data) that partners with Welcoming the Dear Neighbor? to visually explore and tell stories about the lasting impacts of racial covenants in the Twin Cities area. Past students have explored spatial relationships between locations of racial covenants and current day outcomes such as air quality, Covid cases, wealth inequality, policing, and educational outcomes.

Kristine West, PhD – Economics

Kristine West is an associate professor of Economics and the Endowed Chair in the Sciences at St. Catherine University. She is an applied economist who specializes in program evaluation, labor economics and public policy. She joined the WTDN project in 2020 to help the team think about the economic impacts — past and present — of racial covenants and other types of housing discrimination. Together with a team of student collaborators she is investigating how covenants shape our communities and contribute to racial wealth disparities. Dr. West also researches the economics of education and is interested in understanding the links between housing and schools.

Student Collaborators

  • Victoria Delgado-Palma, ’23 – Economics & International Studies
  • Amalea Jubara, ’23 – Economics & Public Policy
  • Calyn Schardt, ’24 –Economics, Public Policy, & WID
  • Ashley Giossi, ’22
  • Ava LaPlante, ’23 – Economics & Public Policy
  • Linnea Ziebol, ’22 – Data Science
  • Mikaela Campbell, ’23 – Economics & Public Policy
  • Hailey Sexton, ’23 – Accounting & Financial Economics

Rachel Neiwert, PhD – History

Rachel Neiwert is an associate professor of history and the Sr. Mona Riley Endowed Chair in the Humanities at St. Catherine University. Her research interests include children and education in the British Empire and the history of housing inequality in Ramsey County through her work with the “Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?” Project. Though the historical projects seem quite distant, they share common roots in understanding the underpinnings of racism in the twentieth century and its impact in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Student Collaborators

  • Ava Griswold, ’21 – History & French
  • Alex Keller, ’20 – International Relations
  • Vee Signorelli, ’20 – English & Theology

Todd Deutsch – Department of Art & Art History

Todd Deutsch earned his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in Real Simple(US), New Scientist (UK), Nido (Germany), VisionMagazine (China) and others, and is included in private and public collections including the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Portland Art Museum. Students in his community-engaged digital imaging courses work with Welcoming the Dear Neighbor? to examine the relationship between art and social change.

Daniel Williams – Sociology

Daniel Williams is associate professor in the Department of Sociology, and affiliate faculty in Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity and Women’s Studies. Professor Williams’ work focuses on race and ethnicity, inequality, and culture.  He examines these concepts in two research areas.  One area of interest is in neighborhoods, inequality, and belonging.  His current project in this area is a qualitative study of homeownership among BIPOC and immigrant populations in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  His second interest is in the relationship between race, immigration, and citizenship in the US and globally.  His current project in this area examines the formation of Black German identities and social movements in global comparative perspective.  Professor Williams teaches in these areas, and is committed to deep engagement with local communities in both his teaching and research. 

Liz Allen – Department of Health

Dr. Elizabeth Allen holds a master’s degree in environmental health and a PhD in environmental epidemiology. In addition, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship focused on community engaged research methods to advance health equity and justice. Dr. Allen collaborates with students, international non-governmental organizations, and a global network of scholars in her research. Her work focuses on the impact of the environment on social, emotional, physical health.  Current projects include work on community health volunteer models, women’s empowerment in Peru, climate change, and social justice focused education. Dr. Allen teaches courses in Global Environmental Health and Epidemiology.

Student Collaborators

  • Anchee Nitschke Durben, ’24 – Public Health & Data Science

External Collaborators

Seth Mabbott

Graphic Designer

Patricia O’Leary, ’21

Web Design

Heritage Studies and Public Policy

University of MN, Twin cities

Elizabeth DeGrenier, ’20

Web Design

Heritage Studies and Public Policy

University of MN, Twin cities

Mai Yer Vang, ’21

UX/UI Designer