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Community Engagement Fellows is an intergenerational, collaborative effort, and honors and celebrates the leadership of youth, elders, and women. We've listed our convening team accordingly. We also celebrate the facilitation efforts of numerous others during our events; your contributions are profoundly appreciated.



Kwaslmut ~ Sadie Olsen is an advocate for community healing as she writes in her academic studies about how boarding schools, disconnect from sovereign territories, resources, and languages continue to contribute to the near genocide of her Native culture. Her goal is to educate society by publishing her writing, as she works collectively with other scholars.


A Community Engagement Fellow since 2018, Sadie is currently convening the Nexw Xwlemi Tengexw Cohort meetings at Northwest Indian College. She serves as a co-convener for the Bellingham cohort meetings and took a lead facilitation role at the most recent national CEF State-of-the-Art Conference in February 2020.  

Sadie is actively involved in many programs that prepare her to become a future leader who remembers a healthy future through the wisdom of the past.  As a co-founder of Whiteswan Environmental, she is involved with the Coast Salish Youth Stewardship Corps and Whatcom Intergenerational High School.  She is also a Tribal Youth Delegate for Lummi Nation on the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board.  Such programs help her learn more about who she is and where she comes and how to preserve heritage through academic curricula development and policy of today.



Ku se maat ~ Shirley Williams, RN is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Native-led 501(3) Whiteswan Environmental, WE.  WE have been partnering with Western Washington University's Center of Community Learning since 2018.   Our co-sponsored events include three community forums focused on Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation in Washington State and three place-based “Learning Together in the Salish Sea” retreats (San Juan Island, Tacoma, Galiano Island.)  In 2019-2020, we began co-leading the Nexw Xwelemi Tengexw Cohort of Community Engagement Fellows meetings at Northwest Indian College and online. 


Shirley believes the collaboration with Community Engagement Fellows is in alignment with Whiteswan Environmental’s mission and vision for community healing in the Salish Sea Region.  It is very meaningful to Shirley to work with a team who are willing to bridge indigenous-settler educational divides by weaving indigenous and western methods and mindsets into the meeting facilitation and hosting methods; supporting venues for indigenous voices, histories and present-day environmental and socio-cultural challenges to be heard; and especially empowering indigenous youth as educators.


Katrina Carabba.jpeg

Katrina Carabba works for the Whatcom County Library System as the Branch Manager at the Deming Library. Katrina participated as a CE Fellow in 2018/2019 and has contributed as a convener during the 2019/2020 session. 


Born raised in the South Fork Valley along the Nooksack River near Acme, Katrina brings a strong sense of place to her work.  Katrina is a WCC and WWU Alumni and is dedicated to raising her family and serving her community through public library work.


Laurel Hammond

Laurel Hammond works at the Center for Community Learning at Western Washington University as a Program Specialist with the Community Engagement Fellows program.


Originally from Colorado, Laurel came to Washington to attend WWU as an undergraduate. After graduation, she worked for several years with the Vice President of Educational Service at Whatcom Community College. Laurel launched the WCC Service-Learning program with the help of many mentors and several well-timed grants. Laurel returned to WWU to earn her Masters in Adult and Higher Education.  She went on to serve as a teaching assistant for Woodring College of Education and joined Western's Center for Community Learning in 2014.


Since 2018 Laurel has been a Community Engagement Fellows convener and enjoys making meaningful connections between the community and WWU.



Travis Tennessen has served as the convener of Community Engagement Fellows since it began in 2015.

Before coming to Western Washington University, Travis taught at Penn State-University Park and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His courses focused on sustainability, environmental conservation and environmental history. He also directed the Quest alternative break program in Madison, and Tennessen Treks while at Penn State.


Travis received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his research explored the histories of conflicts over natural resources in the American West. William Cronon served as his advisor, and he was an active member of UW's Center for Culture, History and Environment.

Many social movements and philosophies contribute to Travis's efforts with Community Engagement Fellows, including permaculture design principles, Sri Lanka's Sarvodaya movement, Unitarian Universalist Small Groups, and the Wisconsin Idea.

Learn more about Community Engagement Fellows:

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