Alumni & Students Blog

Keep up with stories highlighting some of the professional, academic and fun adventures of our CDA Alumni and Current Students!

This blog will be updated with profiles of CDA alumni and current students, newsworthy updates, and other information relevant to the program. Whether you want to keep in touch with the program or just learn more about what real students and alumni are up to, we want this to be a more personal point of connection to CDA.

All content here is written, edited, and published by current CDA students.  Questions about the blog or about CDA? Contact Anna Warren at

For more news, check out our Facebook page and Instagram account (@vanderbiltcda).

And if you’re a prospective student, follow this link to apply to CDA today!


Meet an Alumnus: Geordie Brackin

Geordie Brackin, M.Ed. 2010 Director of Global Innovation, Bridge International Academies “I came to the CDA program having themed interests in education and community-building, but not knowing what my path would be. I’ve now been living abroad and working in international education for the past 6 years and I owe that to the experiences I...... KEEP READING

Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Alumni,


Meet an Alumna: Sarah Imran

M.Ed. 2017 Director of Policy and Research, Metro Human Relations Commission “The CDA program provided an excellent balance of structure through core courses, as well as freedom to carve out our own unique paths.” Q: Where are you from originally and what did you do before coming to Vanderbilt? I am originally from Islamabad, Pakistan,...... KEEP READING

Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Alumni,


Meet an Alumna: Gabby Flynn

Gabriella Flynn  M.Ed. 2015 Program Coordinator, Columbia University Medical Center, Program for Global and Population Health “The way that CDA prepares you to be a reflective, generative practitioner who works with the community interests in mind is something that is invaluable to my work now as a researcher.” Q: Where are you from originally and...... KEEP READING

Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Alumni,


Meet an Alumnus: Courtney Williams

M.Ed. 2011 Dillard University, Director of Student Engagement and Leadership “I rely a lot on my training with CDA, helping students to see the college as the community that they should develop.” Q: To begin, can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where you are from originally and how did you end...... KEEP READING

Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Alumni,


CDA Alumni: Where are they now?

Check out what our alumni are up to after graduating from the Community Development & Action program:... KEEP READING

Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Alumni,

Adobe Spark

Recommended Reads

Looking for some winter reads? Check out these recommendations from a few of our HOD professors: Paul Speer No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age by Jane McAlevey This is a book about labor organizing, but it taps into the rich ‘relational’ models that I focus on in organizing research. Discussing some of the recent...... KEEP READING

Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Current Students

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CDA Student Spotlight: Allie Mikels

Allie Mikels B.S. Public Policy Studies and Economics   “For me, CDA was a great fit because of its focus on preparing people to be local change agents – which means something different to each of us, and yet unites us all.”  Q: To begin, where are you from originally at what did you do before coming...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Current Students,


CDA Student Spotlight: Hannah Nell

Hannah Nell B.S. Agricultural and Applied Economics, Political Science                 “The most valuable thing I have learned through the program is that there are tons of other people in the world who care about the things I care about and feel as much joy as I feel in...... KEEP READING

Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Current Students,


Meet an Alumna: Erin McCauley

Erin McCauley, M.Ed. 2016 Ph.D student, Cornell University, College of Human Ecology  “I had never had the words for my orientation toward the world before discovering CDA.” Q: To begin, where are you from originally and what did you do before coming to Vanderbilt? I am originally from Mill Valley California, which is just outside...... KEEP READING

Posted by on September 22, 2017 in Alumni,


Meet an Alumnus: Keith Barnes

Keith Barnes, M.Ed. 2015 Director for Nutrition Advocacy, TN Justice Center  “To be truly effective in this kind of work, to be a change agent, to make the world a better place, you’ve got to be flexible, and that’s not how I experience a lot of other disciplines.”  Q: To begin, where are you from...... KEEP READING

Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Alumni,


2017 Theses

Of the 2017 CDA graduates, four completed theses for their final assessments. These intensive, independent research projects covered a wide range of scholarly interests that intend to contribute to the field of community development. This year’s completed master’s theses are described below. Shea Davis, M.Ed. 2017 Towards Equity in Communities: Barriers for Coalitions in Addressing Health...... KEEP READING

Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Final Projects and Theses,


2017 Final Projects

Of the most recent cohort of CDA graduates, six completed a project for their final assessments. These projects, designed and conducted within an organizational or community context, integrate core philosophy, coursework, and field experience of the Community Development & Action program. Accompanied by a final document and presentation, the final projects account for a minimum...... KEEP READING

Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Final Projects and Theses,


CDA Student Spotlight: Allison Plattsmier

Allison Plattsmier is currently a second year Community Development & Action (CDA) student who will be graduating in December of 2016.  She took a few moments to tell us about some of her experiences during her time within the CDA program and her future pursuits.   Where are you from? I’m from Nashville, TN (Yes,...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Current Students


CDA Student Spotlight: Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is a second year CDA student who will graduate in December of 2016.  Mike shared with us some of the journey that led him to the CDA program, some highlights of his time as a CDA student, and some ideas for the future.  Q. Where are you from? Minneapolis, MN   Q. What did...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 4, 2016 in Current Students


Meet an Alumna: Lauren Berny

CDA Alumna, Lauren Berny, shares some of her experiences during her time as a CDA student.  Lauren also shares how these experiences have helped her step into the field of Program Evaluation here in Nashville, TN.  Thank you, Lauren, for sharing some of your story with us! This photo was from the Society for Prevention Research conference in...... KEEP READING

Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Alumni

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