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New W&M Community Partnerships Forum

“What are our shared commitments?” This was the convening questions for the first W&M Community Partnerships Forum, hosted by Civic & Community Engagement. The forum complements a fall campus-community networking breakfast that the office has hosted for many years. This fall, however, the breakfast had a waitlist, and community representatives expressed how meaningful these William & Mary gatherings are. “As someone who is new to this position, the breakfast allowed me to match names to faces that I've heard of over the past few years, and I truly believe that more frequent meetings like this would only strengthen relationships across all organizations,” shared breakfast attendee, Ronnie Showah, supervisor of Communications and Engagement for WJCC Schools.

community partnerships forum
Creating the new spring forum reflects Civic & Community Engagement’s mission to cultivate equitable and transformational relationships with members of William & Mary and our broader community. More than 50 representatives from across campus and Greater Williamsburg gathered over pastries, coffee, and their shared commitments to community. This included William & Mary faculty and staff from Athletics, Theatre, Speech & Dance, Sociology, and the Muscarelle Museum of Art, among others. Community organizations present included City of Williamsburg Voter Registrar, Child Development Resources, Colonial Williamsburg, Lackey Clinic, WJCC Schools, The Arc of Greater Williamsburg, and many more.

community representatives in a discussionFirst gathering around pre-assigned tables based on issues of interest such as housing, education, and healthcare, attendees fostered new connections and potential collaborations. Their second round of conversations centered on emergent themes: supporting non-English speaking residents, a community-wide social services event, nonprofit fundraising, and even a table for introverts.

“Each person I encountered is someone I would like to convene with in a future setting. While not all necessarily overlap with the work I do or vice-versa, we were able to spout off ideas that sparked something in our collective roles.” shared Allison Jarvis representing both Bacon Street Youth and Family Services and Bicycle Co-Op of Williamsburg.

Thanks to the conversations she was a part of, Kellie Wasson of The Arc of Greater Williamsburg is now working with the Voter Registrar to ensure Arc clients are well-informed about how to register and vote. Staff from the Lackey Clinic connected with Steve Prince, Director of Engagement at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, and are planning to have their staff contribute to the Communal Quilt Project.

Past gatherings have also led to stronger relationships and tangible outcomes including W&M staff hosting Lackey Clinic to share about the resources they offer at an all-staff facilities meeting, and Faith in Action and Literacy for Life exploring how to collaborate on transportation and ESL services for clients.

“As always, I leave these events feeling a renewed sense of connection to our community. There's so much to gain from each other, and I appreciate W&M being the "hub" of the thinktank,” shared Jarvis.

Civic & Community Engagement will host its next community partnership event, a day-long workshop featuring presentations from the Community-Engaged Faculty Accelerator, in June.