CILSA has seven professional staff and an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member. Learn about who we are and what we do.
Marshall Welch, Ph.D. – Director (925) 631-8135
Marshall oversees all administrative, policy, fiscal, and programmatic aspects of the office serving as the “face” of CILSA, representing the office both on and off campus. He works directly with faculty, administrators, and community partners to develop, implement, and assess community engagement experiences.
Marshall Welch is actively involved in the field of service-learning at the state, national, and international levels. He has many articles and chapters in the professional literature of service-learning and has made numerous presentations. A unique aspect of his work is his work on the spirituality of service-learning as part of his studies as San Francisco Theological Seminary. Marshall has a long history of service and social action starting with mission projects at his church as a youth, an activist in the 70s, and teaching social justice courses including a service-learning course that had his students working in post-Katrina New Orleans. Marshall was invited by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to participate in a round table discussion in Washington, DC to help craft a report to the U.S. Department of Education as a vision for infusing civic engagement into the college experience. He conducted a faculty development workshop at Seattle University in April. His article entitled, “Shedding Light on the Shadow-side of Service-learning” was published in the Journal of College and Character and has received wide attention. He also chairs the SMC Sustainability Committee and the Social Justice Coordinating Committee. His wife, Julie, is the steward of Legacy garden here on campus.
Jennifer Pigza, Ph.D. – Associate Director (925) 631-4755
Contact Jennifer about the annual Social Justice Institute, graduate studies in Leadership for Social Justice, mission effectiveness, CILSA budget and finance
Jennifer Pigza also serves as the academic chair of the graduate program in Leadership for Social Justice. She brings to Saint Mary’s experiences in nonprofit social service agencies, service-learning, college teaching, living and learning programs and higher education administration. She writes about critical pedagogy, student learning and critical reflection, teaching for social justice, and institutionalizing service-learning. She traces her commitments to faith-justice to early experiences working with homeless people in Baltimore, attending service immersions in Mexico, institutionalizing service-learning in Maryland high schools, and investing four years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The highlight of Jennifer’s 2013-2014 academic year has been collaborating with Marshall on the new peer-reviewed journal Engaging Pedagogies in Catholic Higher Education (EPiCHE).
Contact Sarah for questions or concerns related to faculty development, community partner relationships, service-learning courses, community based research courses and the community engagement outcome of the core curriculum.
Sarah Dempsey is committed to creating opportunities that empower students to be engaged in their own personal and academic development. Her dedication to higher education administration started when she was a student leader at Sacramento State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree. She earned her Master of Science degree in Student Counseling and Personnel Services at Kansas State University, and continued her counseling training in sexual assault counseling and alcohol and drug counseling in Santa Barbara. For over nine years she worked for the University of California system coordinating programs and activities designed to enhance student success: undergraduate pathway programs for underrepresented students, enrollment management, and academic advising. In addition to being a member of the CILSA family, she is a doctoral student in the Saint Mary’s College Education Leadership Program. Sarah's area of interest is social justice in higher education, specifically service-learning programs.
Samantha Coon – Jumpstart Site Manager (925) 631-8168
Contact Samantha for questions or concerns related Jumpstart in Oakland and early childhood education co-curricular community service projects.
Samantha Coon developed a serious interest for service and social justice during her high school years at a small Catholic school in southern California. With its strong sense of community and Lasallian foundation, Samantha found St. Mary’s College to be the perfect institution for her undergraduate studies, where she completed her B.A. As a freshman she became involved in CILSA through the non-profit organization Jumpstart. Samantha’s passion and knowledge for service and social justice continued to grow throughout her SMC career with Jumpstart and CILSA. This, in combination with her interest in non-profit work, prompted her to study development aid and to travel to Rwanda as a January Term student during her senior year. In Rwanda, Samantha volunteered with several different non-profit and non-government organizations, and had the opportunity to interact with many individuals who have passionately dedicated their lives to service and social justice. Samantha learned not only about the fundamental details of a successful organization, but was also inspired to make a commitment to service and social justice post-graduation.
Ryan Lamberton – Educational Partnerships & Outreach Coordinator (925) 631-4015
Contact Ryan about Summer Fellowship Programs, Social Justice Speakers, & CILSA Alumni Affinity Groups, and trainings on student leadership for social justice.
As a student at Saint Mary’s, Ryan Lamberton served as a Bonner Leader, enrolled in several social justice courses, and participated in immersion trips to the Dominican Republic, Washington, DC, and West Oakland. After graduating in 2005, Ryan served as a volunteer with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship while also substitute teaching in the East Bay. Ryan followed that experience by working as a coordinator for a non-profit organization that provides services and housing to adults with developmental disabilities. These undergraduate and post-graduate experiences solidified Ryan’s desire to accompany college students as they ask questions about faith, justice and leadership for the common good. Ryan initiated the regional Leadership & Social Justice Conference in 2009 which has taken place for the past three consecutive years. Ryan has also played instrumental roles in bringing guest speakers Jim Keady, Shane Claiborne, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Majora Carter and Jason Connell to campus. In the Spring of 2012, Ryan received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling; his master's project examined how faculty and student affairs professionals can foster the spiritual development of college students through summer service-learning programs.
Michelle Barker - Administrative Coordinator (925) 631-8161
Contact Michelle for any questions about Saint Mary's College’s new Get Connected website, developed to serve students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. Get Connected enables the Saint Mary's Community to get to know our Bay Area community partners (non-profit agencies) and provides the opportunity to connect with organizations that post service and volunteer needs. Michelle also manages the College's Community Benefit Inventory for Social Accountability (CBISA) database, which helps to track and to report on Saint Mary's College's social justice education events, community service programs, community engagement courses, community partnerships, and student leadership development programs for social justice. Faculty and staff need to complete the Social Justice Activity Reports for Curricular and Co-Curricular Programs near the end of each term in order to be included in the database.
Michelle joined CILSA after 20 years of classroom teaching and school administration in California, Connecticut and Texas. Her roles included teaching two-year olds through 8th grade students, serving as an Elementary Teaching Assistant Principal, a faculty trainer and a technology specialist in both the public school and independent school settings. A native of San Diego, she received a B.A. in Asian Studies/Japanese from Pomona College, a Bilingual, Cross-Cultural, Language and Academic Development (BCLAD-Spanish) teaching certification from California State University Fullerton, and her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Educational Administration and Spanish/ESOL) from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her interest in social justice issues stems from her strong belief that educational opportunity is a transformative force for individuals and society.