To increase its effectiveness in partnering with the state in the areas of workforce development, retention, and growth, UVM received $2 million in funding from the Vermont Legislature in 2020. The UVM Office of Engagement will use these resources to respond directly and comprehensively to challenges articulated by Vermont Governor Phil Scott during his 2020 State of the State address in January: an aging population; the need for additional skilled workers; and inadequate growth in the number of well-paying jobs.
The Office of Engagement builds upon the University’s land-grant mission, serving as a “front door” to the University for private, public and non-profit entities and communities looking to access UVM’s many strengths and capabilities.
Christopher Koliba, Director
Chris Koliba is a professor in the Community Development and Applied Economics Department at UVM, and former director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program. He is serving as the President's Fellow for Engagement and serving as the Faculty Director for the UVM Office of Engagement. He is also the co-director of the Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation (SEGS) Lab and a fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment. Koliba holds a Ph.D. and an MPA from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. His research interests include environmental governance, governance networks, community resilience, network performance and accountability, with applications to water quality, food systems, energy systems, emergency and disaster response, and sustainable transportation systems. He has served as PI, Co-PI or science leader on grants from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Vermont Department of Education, and the Spencer Foundation. Koliba is the Associate Director of Vermont EPSCoR.
Katie Alexander grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, in the small town of Derby. She graduated from UVM in 2015 with B.A. degrees in political science and English. She interned in the Vermont State House for Zatz and Renfrew Consulting and completed her undergraduate thesis studying the feasibility of paid family leave in Vermont and the U.S. Previously Katie worked at the Vermont Tax Department and served as a staff assistant in Senator Leahy’s office. She now works as the UVM Fellowships Advisor in the Office of Fellowships, Opportunities and Undergraduate Research (FOUR). Katie is in her final year of the UVM Masters of Public Administration program, and is completing her internship with the UVM Office of Engagement.
Kevin Chu, Managing Director
Kevin Chu is a Burlington, Vt. native and a graduate of Middlebury College. He has held several administrative positions at UVM including assistant director for diversity and partnerships in the office of admissions and professional advisor for the university’s cross-college environmental program. Most recently he served as strategic innovations and communications lead for the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. He is also the founder and president of Sprinticity Athletics. “I understand Vermont is facing enormous challenges as we grapple with the COVID-19 epandemic and the resulting economic and social dislocations,” he says. “I bring an entrepreneurial spirit to my work and care deeply about co-creating innovative solutions with our community partners around the state. UVM has a key role to play and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Kathleen Kemp, Program Support Generalist
Most recently Kathleen Kemp worked at the University of Vermont as an administrative assistant in Human Resource Services and Operations. She also worked as an assistant trainer for the Child Welfare Training Partnership, a collaboration between UVM’s Department of Social Work and the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF). She received a UVM master’s degree in education in 2021. Kemp has a deep commitment to social justice and building strong, resilient communities. “My approach to work is rooted in a life-long, foundational commitment to social justice, radical welcome and inclusion practices,” she said.
Wayne Maceyka, Outreach Professional
Wayne Maceyka was appointed as the office’s first dedicated outreach professional in October, 2021. Maceyka earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He went on to earn his M.B.A. from Presidio Graduate School in sustainable management. Most recently, Maceyka served as director of sales and marketing for AllEarth Renewables in Williston, a solar energy company creating solutions for homes and businesses. Prior to joining AllEarth, he worked for SunCommon in Waterbury, Vermont (recently acquired by iSun.) As a solar home advisor, he helped Vermont homeowners migrate to solar power or share in a community solar array. In the non-profit sector, Maceyka founded the HinesburgHub, a pop-up shared workplace/coworking community space for remote workers, work-at-home professionals, and local entrepreneurs in his home town of Hinesburg.
Naomi Parekh (she/her), a native of Massachusetts, worked in the United Nations system for nine years where she focused on the political prioritization of Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 6, and 11. At the U.N., Naomi managed protocol and curated communications campaigns for high-level meetings around the world and several events during the United Nations General Assembly. She served as an advisor to the president of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. Naomi also worked at the Fulbright Association as senior director, membership development, where she advocated to members of the U.S. Congress for an increase in federal funding for international education and exchange programs. She was a Fulbright fellow in Jamaica and holds a master’s degree in sustainable development and international policy management and a B.A. in anthropology. Naomi has been an active volunteer for over 30 years raising funds to support abandoned children in areas of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
Emma Spett, Research Assistant
Emma Spett is a graduate student at the University of Vermont. In 2020, she completed an MS in Community Development and Applied Economics, and will begin doctoral studies in Sustainable Development Policy, Economics, and Governance in 2021. As a MS student, Emma was a member of the International Joint Commission’s Social, Political, and Economic technical working group, which explored the acceptability and feasibility of transboundary flood mitigation options in the transboundary Lake Champlain Richelieu River basin. She is a member of UVM's Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security's Transboundary Water In-Cooperation Network, and recently completed a graduate certificate in Community Resilience and Planning. Prior to arriving at UVM, Emma worked as a farm-based educator at Shelburne Farms, and as a community organizer for Environment Colorado. She graduated with a BA in Environmental Policy from New York University in 2016. In her current role, Emma carries out research on community resilience and economic development in Vermont, on behalf of the Office of Engagement.
Contact the Office:
UVM Office of Engagement
109 S. Prospect St., Burlington, Vt.