It has been a busy few months at CHER! During the COVID-19 pandemic we launched two new initiatives: engaging students, staff, and faculty in remote volunteering and employing students in storytelling projects about their pandemic experiences. In recent weeks we have also reflected on Trinity students’ experiences of racism and sexual violence on campus and identified ways that our community engagement work can respond. Additionally, we’d like to announce important staffing transitions in CHER. Read through the highlights below, and be sure to contact us with any questions or ideas.

Staffing Goodbyes

It is with a heavy heart and deep gratitude that we say goodbye to three of our amazing CHER colleagues. We are thankful to have worked with them, and wish them all the best in the next stages of their careers!

  • Megan Faver Hartline, Director of Community Learning, accepted a tenure-track faculty position with a focus on community engagement in the English Department at UT-Chattanooga.

  • Megan Brown, Director of the Liberal Arts Action Lab, accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN.

  • Ari Basche, former Program Manager of Trinfo & Community Relations, left her role in June to pursue a Master’s in English at UConn.

Staffing Hellos

Erica Crowley Promoted to Director of Community Learning
CHER is excited to announce that Erica Crowley, CHER’s current Communications and Data Assistant, will be promoted to Director of Community Learning, effective August 5, 2020. Erica joined the CHER team in August 2018, bringing valuable skills as a community organizer and communications professional. Since that time, she has led us in developing and carrying out a communications plan that effectively “tells our stories,” and has also continued to build on her strong relationships with Hartford partners. Erica holds a Master’s of Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing from the University Connecticut and currently serves on the Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women and participates in Mutual Aid Hartford. In her new role as Director of Community Learning, Erica will direct the Community Action Gateway program and continue the crucial work of guiding faculty and students in meaningful academic engagements with Hartford partners.

CHER Welcomes Abby Williamson as Director
On July 1, the CHER team also welcomed Abby Fisher Williamson (right), Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law as the new CHER Director. In addition to her community-engaged research and teaching on immigration and health policy, Abby brings training and experience in strategic management, fundraising, and evaluation to the position. While at Trinity, she has served as a Faculty Fellow in the Liberal Arts Action Lab and taught community learning courses, including PBPL 351: “Diversity in the City.” In that course, fifteen students examined how cities have responded to diverse newcomers, and served as short-term research assistants on this topic for local organizations. We are looking forward to Abby’s leadership in this role!

Hearing @BlackatTrin, @TrinSurvivors, and the Umoja Coalition

In recent weeks, CHER has reflected on Trinity students’ experiences of racism and sexual violence highlighted by @BlackatTrin and @TrinSurvivors, and the comprehensive lists of demands released by the Umoja Coalition (a coalition of Black student organizations) and TrinSurvivors. We are seeing, hearing, and feeling students’ pain deeply, and we unequivocally affirm that Black lives matter and we believe survivors. We value the strong presence of BIPOC students in CHER and will strive to make our programs a welcoming space. After carefully reviewing students’ experiences and demands, we have identified concrete action steps that align with our mission of strengthening educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and Trinity students, staff, and faculty. Our recommendations can be read here.

Our Covid Stories

This Spring, CHER invited Trinity College students to submit stories about the COVID pandemic to deepen our understanding of different people’s experiences of this crisis, and how communities have responded. Connection and community have been critical during this difficult period, and we have been honored to connect student storytellers with CHER staff editors at a time when so many of us have been disconnected from the Trinity community. Read through the stories on our website here.

Virtual Volunteering

In the Spring semester, many campuses, including Trinity, moved to remote classes due to COVID, and faculty and staff have been encouraged to work from home. This has required us to come up with entirely new ways to be civically engaged. This Spring we were so impressed with the willingness of our students and faculty to jump into action by sending in read-aloud stories, providing tech and web help to partners, sending thank you cards to essential employees, and more. Read about the program in Bhumika Choudhary ‘18’s piece here.

Fall Reopening

Trinity intends to welcome students back to campus in September, closely following official health guidelines. The College will release further guidance on policies and CHER will continue to update community partners. More on Trinity’s reopening plans can be found here at

CHER Director: Abby Williamson
CHER Communications & Data Assistant: Erica Crowley
Community Learning Director: Megan Faver Hartline
Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber
Community Service and Civic Engagement Assistant Director: Beatrice Alicea
Liberal Arts Action Lab Director: Megan Brown
Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn
Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa
HMTCA-Trinity Partnership Director: Robert Cotto Jr.