Mary Jo Callan appointed executive director of Brown's Swearer Center

As executive director, Callan will lead the Swearer Center’s community engagement initiatives at a moment when the ongoing pandemic and movement for racial justice have made this work more critical than ever.

Mary Jo Callan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Mary Jo Callan, a leading scholar and practitioner of community-engaged scholarship and service, has been appointed executive director of the Swearer Center and associate dean for engaged scholarship at Brown University, effective May 17, 2021.

Callan will draw upon a career dedicated to promoting inclusive and equitable community partnerships as she leads Brown’s efforts to advance community-engaged teaching and research with lasting impact, according to a March 3 letter to the University community from Dean of the College Rashid Zia.

“In partnership with youth and communities, Mary Jo has spent her career collaborating with others to advance equity in social, political and economic power as a means to build healthy, inclusive and vibrant communities where everyone has enough to thrive,” he said.

Callan currently directs the Edward Ginsberg Center at the University of Michigan, which helps students, staff and faculty create positive social change through community-engaged teaching, research and service. As a researcher, she has examined partnerships between universities and social or public sector organizations, with a particular focus on equity and reciprocity in those partnerships.

Prior to arriving at University of Michigan, Callan served in elementary and secondary schools, local governments and youth-serving nonprofits such as Ozone House, a Michigan-based community organization providing support, training and assistance to high-risk youths and their families. As the founding director of the Office of Community and Economic Development in Washtenaw County, Michigan, Callan led efforts to illuminate and address growing racial and economic inequities in the region.

Callan earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan before earning a doctorate in educational policy and leadership at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

The Swearer Center is the first center for community engagement to be housed at a U.S. university. It served as the administrative home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification — an elective designation issued by the Carnegie Foundation that recognizes colleges and universities with campus-wide commitments to community engagement — from 2017–2020.

Callan said she is excited to lead the Swearer Center — which Zia called one of the nation’s foremost centers for community engagement — during a moment when the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened calls for racial equity and justice have made meaningful community engagement more critical than ever.

“I am thrilled to join the team at the Swearer Center and Brown to continue to advance education, public service and partnerships that matter to students and to Brown’s community stakeholders,” Callan said. “I am particularly excited to support and lead this work at Brown in this challenging time for our nation and world, understanding that Swearer's values of reciprocity, respect, equity, inclusion and social justice are at the heart of our collective obligation to our students, our various publics and especially our shared future.”