Behind the Scenes

Introducing HECUA’s new Director of US Programs and Community Engagement!

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Emily Seru, for thirteen years the Manager of Internships and Community Partnerships for the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), transitioned into a new role as HECUA’s Director of US Programs and Community Engagement on January 1, 2018.

“Inspired by the values of progressive education, equity, and social justice, Emily has demonstrated the limitless capacity to love, serve, and create for HECUA’s students, staff, colleges, and community partners,” says Andrew Williams, HECUA’s Executive Director. “Possessing the precious human qualities of social responsibility, compassion, resilience, courage, and creativity, Emily is exactly the type of leader HECUA needs.”

In her previous role as HECUA’s Manager of Internships and Community Partnerships, Seru cultivated and supported over 100 community partners a year. Her portfolio of work included grant programs that funded more than 250 paid internship positions with nonprofit organizations across the region, as well as a graduate fellowship program in philanthropy and human rights for students of color. In 2006, Seru founded HECUA’s Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee, strengthening HECUA’s institutional commitment to anti-racism.

“In my new role, I am most excited to create a process to develop, launch, and evaluate new U.S. programs in a way that is informed by our diverse stakeholders and aligns with HECUA’s core values and strengths,” says Seru. “I look forward to testing how U.S. programs can respond to community priorities around economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. We’ll also build on the strengths of our campus relationships and alignments to create even more accessibility for students to participate in HECUA programs.”

Seru holds a Master’s Degree in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Lewis and Clark College. Her graduate work focused on the experiences of underrepresented students in the field of service learning, and how reflection and facilitation practice can adjust to meet the increasingly diverse lived experiences of students in community-based programs. Prior to her time with HECUA, Seru worked as a Development Officer at Headwaters Foundation for Justice and as Development Assistant and internship program manager at Milkweed Editions, a local press.

To Julie Plaut, Executive Director of Minnesota Campus Compact, “Emily represents the best kind of community engagement professional, deeply committed to just relationships, processes, and outcomes. She practices the critical reflection she prompts from others, contributing to the strength of HECUA’s programs and partnerships–and to a more ethical, effective field. This new role is a wonderful recognition of her long-time leadership.”

HECUA is thrilled to welcome Emily Seru into this new role within the organization. If you’d like to get in touch with Emily, please don’t hesitate to email her at

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