Dr. Keeler to lead Office of Community Engagement

July 10, 2017

Image with caption: Heidi Keeler, Ph.D.

Heidi Keeler, Ph.D.

Heidi Keeler, Ph.D., a faculty member in the College of Nursing, has been named interim director of the Office of Community Engagement (OCE).

In addition to her combined clinical, community and academic experience, Dr. Keeler brings a wide range of population health experience to her leadership role. Dr. Keeler says she looks forward to continuing to champion the foundation set by Denise Britigan, Ph.D., founding director of the OCE.

Many at UNMC are actively working with communities and making an impact on the health of Nebraskans. The Office of Community Engagement, centrally located within Academic Affairs, serves as a bridge to connect campuswide community engagement efforts.

"My hope is that we build synergy and collaborations across colleges and campuses to strengthen our overall impact within the community," Dr. Keeler said.

In 2015, through the efforts of a dedicated interprofessional team of faculty and staff, UNMC earned the designation as a Community Engaged Campus by the Carnegie Foundation, one of four medical schools and the only health professions university in the nation to be so designated. The OCE is tasked with maintaining this prestigious award.

"This impactful designation is a shining symbol of UNMC's efforts to design education congruent with the needs of our greater community," Dr. Keeler said.

"Community engagement is about forming authentic positive relationships within our community," she added. "Health professionals need to learn how to build these relationships as part of our training, and how this translates into our ability to provide higher quality service."

Currently, the OCE supports four student-led Legacy Projects engaged in service learning work in the community:

  • Bridge to Care -- works with resettled refugees in the Douglas County/Omaha metro area to link them with health care providers, health educational materials and preventive health services.
  • Decreasing the Donor Deficit -- raises awareness of cancer treatment by bone marrow transplantation and organizes recruitment opportunities for new donors.
  • Do juSTIce -- allows students to interact with inmates to deliver STD education, testing and treatment, as well as allows them to develop strategies for intervention.
  • EMPOWER -- focuses on minimizing domestic and sexual violence in our community and beyond by increasing awareness and providing opportunities for future health care professionals to become involved in supporting survivors through health education and service.

OCE is collecting national resources on service learning and community engagement for faculty use and is working on the implementation of OrgSync, an online system designed to connect and track community engagement activities across campus. Supported by OCE, there will be no charge to participants.

To become involved, or learn more about the efforts, partnerships or opportunities available through the Office of Community Engagement, visit the office's website or contact Dr. Keeler at 402-559-6412 or by email.


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Heidi Kaschke
July 10, 2017 at 11:41 AM

Congratulations and looking forward to working with you again!

Sydney Buckland
July 10, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Congratulations Heidi!

Aileen Warren
July 10, 2017 at 8:54 AM


Dr Sheila Ryann
July 10, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Congratulations Heidi you are a heads up, move forward, transformational leader. The UNMC community will be the better for your work here.

Beth Culross
July 10, 2017 at 8:05 AM

Congratulations to Heidi. She will do excellent work for the University!

Sasha Shillcutt, MD
July 10, 2017 at 5:08 AM

Dr. Keeler will do a fantastic job!