Maria Avila teaches in the Masters in Social Work program at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She earned a MA in Social Service Administration at University of Chicago, and a PhD in Adult and Community Education at Maynooth University, in Ireland. She was Andrew W. Mellon Teaching Fellow with the Center for Diversity and Democracy, and taught in the department of American Studies and Ethnicity from 2012 to 2014, at the University of Southern California. She was the founding Director of the Center for Community Based Learning at Occidental College, from 2001 to 2011. Prior to working in higher education, Avila worked as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the international network founded by the late Saul Alinksy in the 1940s. Her research focuses on the use of community organizing practices to institutionalize public scholarship with the aim to transform the culture of higher education. Central to Avila’s research and teaching is creating long-term, reciprocal partnerships between higher education institutions and organizations representing the community, business, and government sectors.