Through our shared vision and passion, we work to advance the University of Iowa's mission of enriching the student experience while impacting Iowa communities and beyond through community-engaged teaching, learning, and research.

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Nick Benson

Executive Director


Nick serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement and provides leadership on campus for community-engaged teaching, learning, and research. He 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. Nick holds a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Jurisdiction Doctorate from Iowa. Before his time at Iowa, Nick worked for the City of Iowa City in community and economic development and at Leff Law Firm.

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Leslie Finer

Director, Arts & Humanities 


In her Director of Arts & Humanities role, Leslie works to enhance community vitality by utilizing the University of Iowa's arts and cultural resources. She also oversees the Arts Share program, 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 Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Iowa. Before working at the University of Iowa, she taught music history and piano at Coe College.

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Maura Pilcher

Director, Grant Wood Art Colony 


Maura Pilcher currently serves as the Director of the Grant Wood Art Colony. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree 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. Maura has over 15 years of experience in the museum field, including The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), The Field Museum (Chicago, IL), and The Snite Museum (Notre Dame, IN). She has participated in arts engagement and preservation-related panels and provided workshops for national audiences.

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Jan Warren

Community Engagement Manager

Jan serves as Community Engagement Manager advancing strategic initiatives that bolster community engagement at Iowa, including the Community Engaged Course (CEC) designation, the Graduate and Faculty Engagement Corps (GEC and FEC) programs, and the Community Engagement Network (CEN), among others. She has had a long career in education, the arts, and student services. Jan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (minor in Art History) from Michigan State University and her Master’s Degree in Counselor Education with a specialization in College Student Development from the University of Iowa. Before joining OCE, Jan worked in gifted education and university admissions and was a music teacher in both public and private music schools in Iowa.  

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Rachel Young

Faculty Fellow for Engaged Teaching and Scholarship

Rachel is an Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She serves as the Faculty Fellow in the Office of Community Engagement. She has more than a decade of experience facilitating community-engaged learning. In 2020, she started the Coralville Media Collaborative to support classroom learning and internship initiatives with local nonprofit and civic partners. She is also an investigator on an Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development Grant to develop interdisciplinary narrative research in the Midwest. Before joining the University of Iowa, Rachel worked as a health and science writer and editor for a variety of national organizations and publications.

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Riley Finer

Communications Coordinator 

Riley oversees the Office of Community Engagement's digital communication outside of social media, such as the website and monthly newsletter. She is thrilled to be part of the team and is looking forward to working with a great group from which she is excited to learn!

Riley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She is passionate about connecting with others and finding ways to establish a sense of community throughout her hometown of Iowa City.

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Alex Uhrich

Social Media Marketing Intern 

Alex Uhrich is a Marketing Major who has collaborated with various University departments to design websites and create social media content. Currently a Senior at the University of Iowa, Alex is enthusiastic about promoting the numerous exceptional programs offered by the Office of Community Engagement.

In her role as the Social Media Marketing Intern, Alex is excited to leverage her experience in digital art, coding, and interpersonal skills to effectively showcase the incredible talent, creativity, and sincere dedication that characterize this department. Her primary goal is to highlight these wonderful programs and further enhance her skills through the guidance of her mentors.