Nicholas 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.

Headshot of 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.

Headshot of 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.

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Jon Soffa

Community Engagement AmeriCorps Coordinator

Jon joined the Office of Community Engagement in September 2020 as the Community Engagement AmeriCorps Coordinator.

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Suha Taha

Community Engagement AmeriCorps Coordinator 

Suha joined the Office of Community Engagement in September 2020 as the Community Engagement AmeriCorps Coordinator.

Headshot of Noel Mills.

Noel Mills

Graduate Assistant 


Noel is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently a student in the Master of Public Affairs program. She works for the Office of Community Engagement as a part-time graduate assistant, primarily managing the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Path Forward Work Group.

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Haley Peterson

Marketing and Communications Intern 


Haley has been with the Office of Community Engagement since August of 2018 when she first started as a Graphic Design intern. With a marketing, digital arts, and strategic communication background, Haley runs our social media, branding efforts, and creative projects.