CCEL + Community

Connecting communities with UBC faculty and students to work on issues that impact society today.

Our work is focused on bringing community organizations, with their diversity of backgrounds and lived experiences, together with faculty and students to approach complex societal challenges. We do this by working collaboratively with campus and community partners on program and initiatives, both on and off campus

"We were really impressed with the students. The student project might have been one of the most valuable pieces of BC Transit’s review that they were conducting at the time.”

Jessica Knodel
Social Planning Council Coordinator

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Connect with us to learn more about the work we can do within your community


Community & Faculty Members

have collaborated with the Centre


Community-based Projects

were supported by the Centre


UBC Students

connected with community-based experiences

* Totals from 2015-2017 academic year

Our community engagement team is a resource for community organizations.
Together, we share knowledge, build on ideas and move them forward in collaboration with students and instructors.

Jill Porter
Community Development Advisor

Since joining CCEL in 2012, Jill focuses specifically on partnership development through the creation and delivery of workshops and tools that help community organizations build projects that support students and advance community priorities. Jill also creates and maintains processes that enable community partners to share their perspectives, inform CCEL programming, and identify current and emerging community priorities.

  • Over 20 years experience in community and partnership development

Ismaël Traoré
Engagement Advisor

Ismaël leads the Centre’s Collaboratory which is an action-oriented and living platform that brings together students and faculty in partnership with community partners to identify and address pressing social issues in our community. Ismaël has a doctorate degree in sociology with a specialization in antiracism, social psychology, and the sociology of health and illness. He brings to his role as Engagement Advisor years of experience working in non-profit organizations, grassroots, and as faculty.

Susan Grossman

Susan provides leadership to support excellence in educational consulting and community engagement. She ensures that CCEL holds the requisite expertise to enable collaborations between UBC and community partners directed at resolving complex, community-based challenges. Working in partnership with senior administrators - Deans, Associate Deans, and Department Heads - Susan identifies how to leverage resources and assets at CCEL and the University to create, implement, and evaluate sustainable programs that engage students in deep partnership with community members and organizations.

  • Holds a Certificate in Social Impact Strategy and is skilled in the methodological approaches valuable in driving toward impact
  • Previously worked at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and Reed College
  • Served as the Director of the Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) since 2011

Yusuf Alam
Associate Director

At CCEL, Yusuf works in partnership with community groups, students, faculty members and UBC leadership to develop strategies to address complex social issues. He drives community partnership development for CCEL, develops university-wide systems that that promote the continued engagement of the university community, oversees collaborative program development, and leads the strategic implementation of initiatives.

  • Over 20 years of civic leadership, activism and professional application.
  • Experienced community development practitioner with a record of achievement including award-winning transformations on food, health and livelihood issues across governments and communities in Canada and internationally.

Michael Denhamer
Educational Programs Coordinator

Michael brings experience and expertise in informal education, and non-profit coordination to his role at CCEL. His work at the Centre supports students, faculty, and community partners through both our community grants and workshop programming. In addition, he focuses on building the capacity of community organizations and stakeholder groups through maintenance and development of our internal systems. Michael is passionate about ethical engagement and supporting the work of our region's countless community champions.

Aleksandra (Ola) Kulesza
Experiential Education Advisor

At CCEL, Ola leverages her experience in student engagement, peer leadership programming, workplace learning, and post-secondary academic support. The focuses of her work are student engagement, partnerships with student groups and developing new ways to engage as a learning community. In addition to that, Ola is developing strategic plans for student-directed programing such as Changemaker, workshops, and community grants. Ola incorporates her graduate work in community development and workplace learning to enhance departmental processes, initiatives and her own facilitation.