Swearer Center Director Search

 March 4, 2021

Dear Members of the Brown Community, 

I am excited to share that Mary Jo Callan will become the inaugural Stark Family Executive Director of the Swearer Center and Associate Dean for Engaged Scholarship. Mary Jo will officially join the Brown community on May 17, 2021.

As the Center’s Executive Director, Mary Jo will lead one of the nation’s foremost centers for community engagement and the first to be housed in a university. Drawing on Brown’s historic commitment to social justice and collaborative community partnerships, she will lead efforts to integrate teaching, learning, and practice in order to advance engaged scholarship. In this role, Mary Jo will serve as an important advocate for and University ambassador to local communities in Providence, Rhode Island, and beyond. Read more about Mary Jo here

Thank you to all who participated in the selection process, with particular thanks to members of our search committee. I am particularly grateful to the staff of the Swearer Center for their hard work and dedication throughout this moment of transition, and to Betsy Shimberg for her exceptional service and leadership as Interim Director over the past year.

Please join me in welcoming Mary Jo to Brown.


Rashid Zia
Dean of the College

September 14, 2020

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends of the Swearer Center, 

We are excited to search for the Stark Family Director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service / Associate Dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship. As a hub for community and civic engagement, the Swearer Center is at an important intersection where students, faculty, staff, and community partners connect. We recognize the myriad ways in which our new executive director will engage with these varied audiences, and how important these relationships are towards guiding the mission and direction of the Swearer Center. In this light, we are committed to providing as much transparency as possible as well as opportunities for input to our communities as we proceed with the search process. Some key points: 

  • We are conducting a national search and engaging an outside search firm, C.V. O’Boyle, to help identify and recruit the strongest possible candidate pool from both inside and outside of academia. 

  • The search committee consists of Swearer Center affiliated faculty, staff, and students, as well as a community partner. We will convene regularly over the next several months and will update our community on the search process periodically via this page. 

  • We are looking for a strong and diverse pool of candidates that will be evaluated by the hiring committee, using the priorities of Swearer’s constituencies to identify top candidates. 

  • We are in the process of obtaining feedback about the future of the Center through discussions with Swearer Center staff and the Swearer Center Student Advisory Committee. 

  • Additional opportunities for the community to interact with each candidate and provide input will be announced once we have identified a shortlist of finalists for virtual campus visits. 

We recognize the important role that this executive director will play in the future of the Swearer Center, and appreciate the trust our community is placing in this search committee to find them. As always, please feel free to reach out directly to me with any questions, concerns, or input you may have throughout the process. 

Inquiries should be directed to Brown’s search consultant, Mr. Chuck O’Boyle of C. V. O’Boyle, Jr., LLC, at [email protected]


Rashid Zia
Dean of the College

Search Committee Members:

  • Aaron Castillo, Swearer Center Bonner Community Fellow
  • Michelle Duso, Swearer Center Community Partner; Founder & CEO, Power4Good
  • Kevin Escudero, Assistant Professor of American Studies
  • Francoise Hamlin, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies
  • Dawn King, Director of Undergraduate Studies, IBES; Senior Lecturer in Environment and Society
  • Nirva LaFortune, Assistant Director for Scholars Programs and Diversity Initiatives
  • Ashleigh LoVette PhD'20, Swearer Center Graduate Fellow for Community-Engaged Scholarship
  • Ishani Mehta, Swearer Center Student Staff; Swearer Center Student Advisory Council; Bonner Community Fellow
  • Betsy Shimberg, Swearer Center Interim Executive Director; Associate Dean
  • Elena Vasquez, Swearer Center Program Manager
  • Rashid Zia, Dean of the College; Search Committee Chair

Timeline (subject to change):

  • August 2020 - convene search committee; approve position description 
  • September 2020 - consult Swearer Center Student Advisory Committee; begin internal and external recruiting process
  • October 2020 - review applications; conduct first-round interviews
  • November 2020 - finalists visit campus and meet Swearer Center community (virtually); applications close
  • December 2020 - search committee makes recommendations to Dean Zia