Renee C. Brown

Renee C. Brown

Director, Center for Community Engaged Learning


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Renee (Zientek) Brown is the director of the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL). In that role she is responsible for contributing to development and expansion of community engaged learning at Michigan State University. She joined University Outreach and Engagement in July 2013.

Brown was the founding director of the Center for Service Learning and Student Volunteer Programs at the University of Michigan–Flint (UM–F). In her 10-year history with UM–F she was responsible for university outreach, alumni affairs, and corporate and foundation affairs. She served as a director, executive director, and assistant vice chancellor at UM–F. From 2010-2013 she served as executive director of the Michigan Campus Compact and senior director of civic engagement for the Michigan Nonprofit Association. In those roles, she was responsible for supporting 40 college presidents and campuses across the state of Michigan as well as leading a national college access and success initiative for Campus Compact. Her role with the Michigan Nonprofit Association was to facilitate partnerships focused on opportunities for lifelong engagement in Michigan, which included directional oversight of several large-scale national service (AmeriCorps) programs.

Brown has presented at several national conferences focused on higher education, collaboration, and nonprofit management. She has a BA from the University of Michigan-Flint and an MA from the University of Michigan. She has served multiple nonprofit organizations in Michigan as a volunteer and/or board member, notably the Flint River Corridor Alliance (where she was appointed the first president/chair) and the Community Relations Coalition in East Lansing. She is currently the chairperson of the Capitol Area United Way’s Volunteer Services Workgroup and the campus representative of the Campus Compact TRUCEN (The Research University Civic Engagement Network) for Michigan State University.

Research and interest areas:

  • Community engaged learning and co-education
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Community and economic development
  • National service

View Vita

Recent Publications

Doberneck, D. M., Bargerstock, B.A., McNall, M., Van Egeren, L., & Zientek, R. (2017). Community engagement competencies for graduate and professional students: Michigan State University’s approach to professional development. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 24(1).


Fitzgerald, H. E., Van Egeren, L. A., Bargerstock, B. A., & Zientek, R. (2016). Community engagement scholarship, research universities, and the scholarship of integration. In J. Sachs and L. Clark (Eds.), Learning through community engagement: Vision and practice in higher education. Singapore: Springer.

Fitzgerald, H. E., & Zientek, R. (2015). Learning cities, systems change, and community engagement scholarship. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 145, 21–33. doi: 10.1002/ace.20120

Recent Presentations

  • (November 2016)

    Community engaged teaching and learning

    Springer, N. C., & Zientek, R. (2016, November). Community engaged teaching and learning. Presentation at the Michigan Campus Compact Institute, Dearborn, MI.

  • (November 2016)

    Advancing service learning and community engagement on your campus

    Stanlich, S., & Zientek, R. (2016, November). Advancing service learning and community engagement on your campus. Presentation at the Michigan Campus Compact Institute, Dearborn, MI.

  • (September 2016)

    What comes first? Process, structure, or culture

    Schichtel, C. L, Springer, N. C, & Zientek, R. (2016, September 26-28). What comes first? Process, structure, or culture. Presentation at the 16th annual conference of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, New Orleans, LA.

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Current Projects