About Us

The Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) is working toward the day when all people collaborate to enact social justice, inclusion, and sustainability in every aspect of life. 

Established in 1999, CILSA is an academic center that collaborates with students, faculty, staff and community partners to create and sustain transformative community engagement experiences inspired by the Catholic, Lasallian and Liberal Arts traditions. CILSA aims to be a leader in the scholarship, theory, and practice of community engagement. The framework of "head, heart, and hands" guides CILSA's academic and co-curricular work.

CILSA's Statement on Racial Equity

June 25, 2020

Dear Staff and Faculty Colleagues & CILSA Student Leaders,

Today marks one month since the murder of George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter movement continues to call for the end of institutional violence against Black and Brown people in this country and around the world. This moment has also been yet another awakening for more white people about the realities of racism and systemic oppression.

During this past month, we in the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) have engaged in individual and collective action and reflection focused on what it means to be antiracist, to build antiracist communities and organizations, and to facilitate student learning and development about leadership and social justice in the context of systemic racism and colonialism. We stand in solidarity with the priorities for action put forth by the Black Student Union (BSU), Ethnic Studies, and the Black Lives Matter subcommittee of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence.

In a series of conversations, we have “gathered our people,” as BSU President Shilei Bell-Lipsey encouraged, and we are ready to learn, act and be in deeper ways. CILSA's Head, Heart, and Hands image has been the defining short-hand for community engagement for over a decade. As we meet this moment, we in CILSA are asking questions such as these:

In 2015, CILSA refined its vision statement to read: “We envision a world in which all people collaborate to enact social justice, inclusion, and sustainability, in every aspect of life.” Implicit in this statement is a commitment to anti-racism work, and yet, as we read this statement today, it is not strong enough. In these next six months, CILSA is not only dedicated to asking questions, but also to committing to the actions they imply. Between now and July 2021, CILSA will join with campus, community, and alumni partners to do several things:

  • Prioritize the leadership of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
  • Craft a statement that describes our commitment to racial justice; it will include our values, our actions, and our accountability-growth practices.
  • Devise a strategic plan that enables us to meet educational, organizational, and community goals related to racial justice, equity, and de-colonialism.
  • Collaborate with campus partners to coordinate the Learning Community on Whiteness and contribute to informal and formal antiracist initiatives across campus. 
  • Continue our internal antiracism work, specifically as it relates to organizational culture and student flourishing.

We are humbled by and grateful for Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, and other BIPOC civil rights leaders and educators who have made our work possible. We respect them and their work and strive to amplify it and build from it. As a predominantly white-identified staff, we are committed to shouldering our share of the emotional labor necessary to dismantle white body supremacy.

In solidarity,

The CILSA Staff

  • William T. L. Besson
  • Samantha Coon
  • Sarah Beth Dempsey
  • Ryan M. Lamberton
  • Tianna Lui
  • Bianca Meza
  • Jennifer M. Pigza
  • Quaneesha Shields