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Senior Program Officer for Community Engagement

Ryan is the senior program officer for Community Engagement currently working primarily with undergraduate and graduate student fellowships and scholarships. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a double major in English and international studies and a minor in mathematics and completed a Master of Theological Studies degree at Duke University. While working at the Center, he also completed a graduate certificate in nonprofit leadership through the UNC School of Social Work. During graduate school, he participated in community-engaged research with the National Farm Worker Ministry and has been involved with several studies on the impact of community engagement and experiential education programs in higher education since working. He is currently an adjunct instructor and teaches in the Department of Public Policy and the School of Education.

At the Center, Ryan provides day-to-day administration, outreach, planning and training for the Community Service Scholars program, the Community Engagement Fellowship, the APPLES Bryan Fellowship, the MacDonald Fellowship, the Arts in Public Service Fellowship, Outward Bound Scholarships, Davis Projects for Peace and the Sherpa Fellowship.

Phone: (919) 843-6829
Office: Union Office


Recent publications:

Nilsen, R., Gillis, A., Hutson, B., and Blanchard, L. (2020). Reflections to Resumes: Alumni perceptions of a multi-term public service program’s connection to career. Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education, 12(3), 33-52.

Nilsen, R., Hutson, B., Blanchard, L., Hirt, L. Siems, M. and Mitchell, T. (2020). A comparative case study of alumni of two multi-term civic learning programs. Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education, 12(2), 26-43.

Bolick, C. and Nilsen, R. (2019). Outward Bound and Civic-Minded: the impact of an Outward Bound course on students’ understanding of and experiences with public service. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership, 11(2), 120-133.

Nilsen, R., Emmerling, D. and Fieselman, L. (2018). Review of The Community Engagement Professional in Higher Education, edited by Lina Dostilio. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 9(1), 61-63.

Nilsen, R. (April 2014). The National Farm Worker Ministry as Freirian Apprenticeship. Religious Education, 109(2), 173-183.