Nick Benson

Nick Benson, J.D.

Executive Director


Nick serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement and provides leadership on campus for community engaged teaching and learning and community engaged research. Nick has worked for eight years in various community engagement roles at the University of Iowa, including as Director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities and Director of Community Development and Outreach. Prior to his time at Iowa, Nick worked for the City of Iowa City in community and economic development and at Leff Law Firm. He holds a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Juris Doctorate from Iowa.

Leslie Finer

Leslie Finer, PhD

Director, Arts & Humanities 


In her role as Director of Arts & Humanities, Leslie works to enhance community vitality by utilizing the University of Iowa's arts and cultural resources. She also oversees the Arts Share program, which has been facilitating arts outreach and engagement initiatives for over 25 years. Leslie received her bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and a PhD in musicology from the University of Iowa. Before working at the University of Iowa she taught music history and piano at Coe College.

Maura Pilcher

Maura Pilcher, MS

Director, Grant Wood Art Colony 


Maura Pilcher currently serves as the Director of the Grant Wood Art Colony. She holds a Bachelor's of Art in Anthropology and Art History from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has over 15 years of experience in the museum industry including The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), The Field Museum (Chicago, IL), and The Snite Museum (Notre Dame, IN). She has participated on arts engagement and preservation-related panels and provided workshops for national audiences.

Headshot of Noel Mills.

Noel Mills

Graduate Research Assistant 


Noel joined the Office of Community Engagement in August 2020 as a Graduate Research Assistant. Noel works with the OCE Executive Director on a variety of community engagement programming activities for the office, including the Community Engaged Course (CEC) designation, workshops and seminars for faculty, staff and students, and evaluation and assessment of community engagement at Iowa. She is a second year graduate student in the Masters of Public Affairs program in the School of Planning and Public Affairs.

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Stephanie Saxe

Marketing & Communications Intern


Stephanie joined our office in August 2021 as a Marketing and Communications Intern. Stephanie manages the office’s social media channels and assists with graphic design for office programs and events. Stephanie is a senior at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business majoring in Marketing.

Picture of James Dykeman

James Dykeman

Marketing & Communications Manager


James joined the Office of Community Engagement in August 2021 as a Marketing and Communications Manager. James oversees strategic communication for the office, including marketing of office events and activities, managing the website, and creating and editing content for multiple media channels.