CUMU Huddles are informal, virtual learning communities designed to build professional relationships across the CUMU membership around issues and topics that matter most to our urban and metropolitan campuses and our communities. They are a space for CUMU members to share ideas, process shared challenges, and connect with one another virtually for a minimum of six times during the year.


CUMU offers exclusive programming for presidents and chancellors of member institutions.

2023 Huddles

Six meetings are scheduled for each Huddle—five virtual meetings and one in-person meeting at the CUMU Annual Conference. Meeting dates are listed below and are subject to change.

Social and Economic Mobility Huddle

Higher education continues to be the strongest avenue for upward social and economic mobility and, as CUMU institutions, we have a unique and significant role to play in serving diverse students and helping them succeed across the graduation finish line. With COVID-19 and its many interconnected impacts continuing to place barriers in front of students, how are we rethinking our services, programs and other student-facing processes with fresh eyes and a student-ready perspective? And how are these efforts increasing our students’ capacity to transcend barriers faced by earlier generations and unlock their potential for lifelong success?

  • March 10, 12–1:30 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • April 25, 12–1:30 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • June 21, 12–1:30 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • August 2, 12–1:30 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • October 15, TBD, CUMU Annual Conference, Washington D.C.
  • December 13, 12–1:30 p.m. (ET), Zoom
Dr. Viridiana Diaz began her tenure as Vice President for Student Affairs at California State University San Marcos in January 2022. Before joining Cal State San Marcos, she served as associate vice president for Strategic Student Support Programs at California State University, Sacramento, where she served as one of the primary vehicles for leveraging student success initiatives, breaking down systemic barriers to success, tending to equity gaps, and achieving goals set for by the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 through program development, implementation, assessment, project management, and fundraising.

Her career in higher education has spanned 20 years, all dedicated to creating a more inclusive campus for first-generation, Pell Grant-eligible, migrant, immigrant, undocumented, LGBTQIA+, and out-of-school youth. While at Sacramento State, she held various positions including assistant vice president for strategic diversity initiatives, special assistant to the president, co-director for the DEGREES (Dedicated to Educating, Graduating and Retaining Educational Equity Students) program, director of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), career counselor/coordinator and admissions and outreach counselor.

Dr. Diaz brings a strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as cross-divisional campus partnerships and community engagement. Her impressive career perfectly aligns with the collective dedication to student success at CSUSM.

As a first-generation college student, Dr. Diaz completed a bachelor’s degree in communications studies, a master’s degree in Latin American literature, a second master’s degree in history, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy. She is also a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Academy, Stanford University’s Executive Leadership Management Institute, and the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education.

In 2022, Dr. Diaz received the San Diego Business Journal Woman of the Year Rising Star Award. She also served as a 2020-2021 Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Leadership Academy fellow and a 2021-2022 American Leadership Forum Mountain Valley Chapter Class of XXV fellow. Furthermore, she is a recipient of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Latina Star Award and was named by the Sacramento Bee’s Vida en el Valle newspaper as one of the “People Who Have Left a Mark in the Sacramento Area.

HUDDLE LEAD: Viridiana Diaz, vice president for student affairs, Cal State San Marcos

Workforce Development Huddle

CUMU members are examining their role as job creators to fill their own vacancies and needs, but also to support regional and industry demands. How is higher education responding to and leading the way to reimagine how we educate, train, and prepare the employees and leaders needed for tomorrow? How are we partnering with cities to attract and retain our students in the cities we call home? This CUMU Huddle will explore how our members are addressing pressing human capital demands, leading workforce development recovery in justice-oriented ways, and employing innovative local hiring strategies—all while grappling with the “Great Resignation” in their communities and on their campuses.

  • March 9, 12:30–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • April 13, 12:30–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • June 8, 12:30–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • August 24, 12:30–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • October 15, TBD, CUMU Annual Conference, Washington D.C.
  • December 7, 12:30–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom

Dr. Jennifer Johnson Kebea is president of Campus Philly, a nonprofit that fuels inclusive economic growth by empowering diverse college students and recent graduates to explore, live and work in Greater Philadelphia. As a champion of young and emerging talent everywhere, Jen is deeply interested in supporting Millennials and Generation Z as they make their indelible mark on this world. Back in 2004, Jen served as an intern with Campus Philly soon after its founding. She is now thrilled to lead this dynamic organization into its third decade of serving college students and the broader region.

Prior to working at Campus Philly, Jen was part of Drexel University’s steadfast commitment to civic engagement. As Executive Director of the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, Jen and her team connected with over 30,000 college students who were each in the process of charting their own civic pathway and considering how they will contribute to the greater good. Presently, Jennifer serves as faculty for both Drexel’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies and the School of Education. In Goodwin, she developed and teaches a series of nonprofit management workshop courses where teams of graduate students are paired with Philadelphia-area nonprofits to provide consulting services. In the School of Education, Jen recently developed and teaches a graduate course focused on Civic Engagement in Higher Education for the MS of Higher Education Leadership program.

Jen holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in the Administration of Human Services from Chestnut Hill College. In 2021, Jennifer was recognized as one of Philadelphia’s Top 40 under 40. A lifelong resident of the Philadelphia region, Jennifer resides in Media, PA with her husband, Kevin, and their three children.

HUDDLE LEAD: Jennifer Kebea, president, Campus Philly

Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Huddle

Hispanic students are entering the nation’s colleges and universities at increasing rates, influencing the growth in the number of institutions eligible for federal designation as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). As more of our campuses are achieving this designation and serving a more diverse student body than ever before, how do our practices align with the needs of our students? This CUMU Huddle is intended for higher education professionals from current and emerging HSIs seeking to deepen their understanding of Hispanic servingness.

  • March 6, 4–5 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • April 3, 4–5 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • June 5, 4–5 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • August 7, 4–5 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • October 15, TBD, CUMU Annual Conference, Washington D.C.
  • December 4, 4–5 p.m. (ET), Zoom

Amber Gonzalez, Ph.D. is a tenured associate professor in the Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) program at California State University, Sacramento. Her research focuses on examining the influence of social support networks and institutional structures on Latina/o/x college student identity development and educational and career aspirations and motivations. In addition, she explores the ways in which students use these aspirations and motivations to ensure their success, manage failure, and persist. Her scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Journal of Educational Research, and College Student Journal. Her institutional and community service and leadership activities center on advocating for equity and social justice for students and faculty of color.

HUDDLE LEAD: Amber Gonzalez, associate professor, child and adolescent development, Sacramento State

Community Engagement Evaluation Huddle

Understanding, Improving, and Sharing Our Work for Change: In this CUMU Huddle, we will explore best practices and next practices across a broad array of evaluation practices, broadly defined. We will explore the role of evaluation and how scholar-administrators can use it to understand, advance, and sustain partnerships, programs, and structures to support community engagement. We will have opportunities to share successes and struggles across our institutions, and will bring in speakers who are exploring the frontiers of this work.

  • March 1, 1–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • April 12, 1–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • May 30, 1–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • August 16, 1–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
  • October 15, TBD, CUMU Annual Conference, Washington D.C.
  • December 6, 1–2 p.m. (ET), Zoom
Emily M. Janke, Ph.D. is the director of the Institute for Community & Economic Engagement located in the Office of Research and Engagement, and an associate professor of peace and conflict studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As a scholar-administrator, Emily’s scholarship focuses on organizational change to support community-engaged scholarship, tracking and measuring institutional portraits of engagement, faculty rewards and recognitions, and restorative practices for reciprocal, inclusive, and ethical partnerships.

Emily was inducted into the Academy of Community Engagement Scholars in 2021 and received the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award given by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, the Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award given by the North Carolina Campus Compact, the Early Career Researcher Award and the Dissertation Award given by the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, and the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement given by American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project.

She is a co-author of Collaboratory®, a publicly searchable, online database of community engagement activities within and across institutions of higher education. She has served on the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Elective Classification since 2014 and is on the editorial boards of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, the Metropolitan Universities Journal, and the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement. She enjoys collaborating with a variety of scholars (inclusively defined) to re-imagine the future of community engagement in higher education so that it is more inclusive, meaningful, restorative, and just.

HUDDLE LEAD: Emily Janke, director, Institute for Community and Economic Engagement, UNC Greensboro

2022 Huddles

HUDDLE LEAD: Paul Kuttner, associate director, University Neighborhood Partners, University of Utah

Evaluation—seeking to understand what we are accomplishing and holding ourselves accountable for doing what we intend to do—can be a powerful learning process. It can be a chance to build self-knowledge, improve practice, and dialogue with partners. It can also satisfy funding requirements and help make the case to our institutions for continued support. Documenting and telling our stories can draw in new partners, connect people across projects, and inform larger movements for community engagement and social change.

However, evaluation comes with many challenges, such as the different data demands of stakeholders and scarcity of time and resources. More fundamentally, Western, neoliberal frameworks for quantifying “outcomes” and “impact” are often at odds with the complex, relational, humanistic, and transformative nature of partnership work. In this CUMU Huddle, we will explore best practices and next practices in evaluating and documenting community-campus partnerships. We will have opportunities to share successes and struggles across our institutions, and will bring in speakers who are exploring the frontiers of this work. Our agenda will be guided by the interests of those who participate. Join us!

HUDDLE LEAD: Crystal Montalvo, College of Staten Island, CUNY

New and aspiring HSI’s often work on becoming an HSI in status and practice through asset-based and participatory frames; placing students and the communities they come from at the center of our efforts. Community engagement professionals have a critical role to play, and a unique expertise that could serve the asset-based and participatory goals of this institutional transition from PWI to HSI. Moreover, as we partner with our surrounding communities in reciprocal and asset-based ways, what would it mean if our HSI status was an intentional pillar of our community engagement, and existing place-based and anchor mission initiatives?

This CUMU Huddle is intended for community engagement professionals seeking to share their stories, and explore the complexities, challenges, and opportunities presented for our PWIs in transition

HUDDLE LEAD: Jacen Greene, co-founder and assistant director, Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, Portland State University

Homelessness and housing insecurity are pressing issues not just in our broader community, but also in our campus communities as well. National estimates by The Hope Center at Temple University show that 14% of college and university students recently experienced homelessness, and nearly half experienced housing insecurity. In a multi-institution survey, The Hope Center also found that 8% of instructional staff had experienced homelessness, and a third had experienced housing insecurity. Nationwide, more than 580,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Among students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community, homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color and other groups most affected by historical and current marginalization and discrimination.

This group brings together faculty, staff, and administrators from across the CUMU network to share resources and best practices, discuss promising new approaches, and develop research projects to better understand and address homelessness and housing insecurity among students, employees, and the broader community.

HUDDLE LEAD: John Kirby Jr, executive director, Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Drexel University

Place-based Community Engagement Professionals (CEPs) who are leading neighborhood-embedded engagement-initiatives will find like-minded people and voices at the Hyperlocal Directors Huddle. This CUMU Huddle will not only center shared experiences unique to directors and other CEPs, but will also ground efforts in equity and social justice, relationship building, operations and procedures, strengths-based approaches, and more, with the hope of uncovering how the group’s hyperlocal community engagements contribute to transformative outcomes. How are we making a difference?