514-848-2424 ext. 4803
Office of Community Engagement
The Office of Community Engagement is mandated to guide Concordia's Embrace the City strategic direction and showcases a slate of programming which includes the Living Knowledge events and research project; the University of the Streets Café series of public conversations; and other ongoing collaborations held in conjunction with both internal university partners and community stakeholders.
The OCE also assists community stakeholders - be they local non-profits or informal citizen coaltions - in accessing university resources: our researchers, engaged students and facilities.
- The OCE connects student, staff and faculty at Concordia with members of the wider Montreal community through online resources, individual meetings and various public events.
- The OCE promotes the community-engagement efforts already underway at Concordia through our webpage, social media presence and e-newsletter.
- The OCE supports the new and ongoing community-engagement efforts of students, staff and faculty at Concordia through funding opportunities, assistance with award applications and the provision of inclusive spaces on campus.
Concordia is signatory to the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles of Social Responsibilities of Higher Education, which adopts the following definition of community engagement:
Community Engagement is the respectful and genuine collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of democratic partnership and reciprocity.
Concordia is also a member of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH). The following are CCPH Principles of Partnership:
- The Partnership forms to serve a specific purpose and may take on new goals over time.
- The Partnership agrees upon mission, values, goals, measurable outcomes and processes for accountability.
- The relationship between partners in the Partnership is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment.
- The Partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also works to address needs and increase capacity of all partners.
- The Partnership balances power among partners and enables resources among partners to be shared.
- Partners make clear and open communication an ongoing priority in the Partnership by striving to understand each other's needs and self-interests, and developing a common language.
- Principles and processes for the Partnership are established with the input and agreement of all partners, especially for decision-making and conflict resolution.
- There is feedback among all stakeholders in the Partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the Partnership and its outcomes.
- Partners share the benefits of the Partnership's accomplishments.
- Partnerships can dissolve, and when they do, need to plan a process for closure.
- Partnerships consider the nature of the environment within which they exist as a principle of their design, evaluation, and sustainability.
- The Partnership values multiple kinds of knowledge and life experiences.
The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is regularly approached to take part in a variety of community engagement initiatives. These initiatives are diverse in nature and require different types of involvement on the part of the OCE and-or Concordia. For the purpose of determining allocation of OCE and Concordia resources as well as the desired level of institutional affiliation, the levels of involvement have been identified:
When the OCE agrees to introduce the organizers of a community engagement initiative to the University unit best positioned to address their request, it agrees to conduct the necessary research, to contact the appropriate internal unit in order to assess their capacity to respond to the request and, then, to connect the individuals involved directly with one another.
When the OCE agrees to promote a community engagement initiative, it agrees to informally disseminate the information through OCE/Concordia channels.
When the OCE agrees to support a community engagement initiative, it agrees to provide a financial contribution and/or the use of Concordia facilities at a discounted rate. Supported initiatives will also be informally promoted through OCE/Concordia channels.
When the OCE agrees to partner with a community engagement initiative, it agrees to take part in designing the initiative and/or its associated content. This may involve links to Concordia-led research, student initiatives or other university experts. The OCE will typically be involved throughout the initiative and may provide financial support and/or the use of Concordia facilities at a discounted rate.
When the OCE agrees to incubate a community engagement initiative, it agrees to support the initiative’s emergence through a proof-of-concept exercise and/or through the development of necessary capacities. The impetus for incubation may result from internal or external opportunities that are deemed to fall within the mandate of the OCE. Such initiatives are rolled directly into the OCE’s budget, strategic plan and individual staff work plans.
When deciding to partner on a new community engagement initiative, in addition to reflecting on fit with the above definition, the OCE considers the following:
- Alignment with Concordia’s mission and strategic directions
- Alignment with OCE’s mission and values
- Complementarity to existing OCE programming
- Potential for workload and/or scheduling constraints
Senior Director of the Office of Community Engagement – Charmaine Lyn
Charmaine is responsible for leading the Office of Community Engagement in its mandate to support and promote community-engaged scholarship, community-based research and community-engaged learning at Concordia. Charmaine is an experienced university administrator, having led admissions and recruitment for two professional programs at McGill University. As a first-generation university attendee and a lawyer by training, Charmaine has a particular interest in dismantling unnecessary barriers to higher education for marginalized populations.
She holds a BA in English Literature and a BCL (civil law) and LLB (common law) from McGill University. When not at work, Charmaine is an active member of the boards of a Montreal-based dance company and an international human rights organization.
Phone: 514-848-2424 ext 4863
Community Engagement Coordinator –Susan Edey
Susan puts her skills in organizing, connecting and communicating to work in her role as Community Relations Coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement. In her role, she is responsible for planning events, serving on committees and cultivating relationships in order to foster a culture that supports genuine and reciprocal community-university partnerships.
Previously, and in her first 3 years working at Concordia, Susan coordinated over 75 community-driven events, launched the quarterly video series, “Spotlight on Community Engagement”, and helped spread the word about all of Concordia’s innovative community engagement initiatives through social media, e-newsletters and good old-fashioned network building. A graduate of Concordia’s MA in Media Studies program, when she’s not at work, you can often find Susan thinking, talking and writing about the impact of digital media, questions of identity and what it takes to build meaningful community.
Phone: 514-848-2424 ext 4803
Program and Communications Coordinator – Alex Megelas
Alex is responsible for communications strategy and implementation at the Office of Community Engagement and runs the University of the Streets Café, a program he has been involved in as moderator for nearly ten years.
He holds an MA in Educational Studies (Concordia University) and his research is on technological literacy in autonomous communities of practice. He is certified in conflict management and in personal and professional coaching both through the Center for Human Relations and Community Studies at Concordia. He comes to the Office of Community Engagement with significant experience in both the non-profit and academic sectors.
Phone: 514-848-2424 ext 4893
Administrative Assistant - Natalie Woodburn-Heron
Natalie is responsible for administrative support for the Office of Community Engagement.
Natalie has a diverse background, having worked for community organizations in the West Island and prior to that as a professional stage manager in theatres from Manitoba to Prince Edward Island for 8 years. She is a birth worker and an active member of three different birthwork collectives that offer doula services for birthing people, new parents and those seeking support around reproductive rights. Natalie lives in the tiny house she built alongside a carpenter. She had the opportunity share her experiences designing and building her home at the HEC TEDx conference in 2015.
Phone: 514-848-2424 ext 5840
Events and Promotions Assistant – Emma Harake
Emma is an artist and educator who also collaborates on curatorial projects and events. She holds a BFA from Lebanese University and is currently pursuing her graduate studies in the department of Fine Arts with a specialization in Art Education at Concordia University.
Her research interests include autobiographical and art-based inquiries, memory work, and oral history. Emma has worked extensively in the non-profit sector and locates her teaching within community-based practices.