Zeno is essentially a community matchmaker for social progress. Mentored at the University of Washington by PLU alumni Connie Kravas ’67 and Eric Godfrey ’70, Zeno’s goal is to empower communities to solve their own challenges through shared learning and mutual activities. beneficial. For Zeno, this practice of active listening and community equipment, aligned with the strengths and resources of a university, is the most powerful way to create real and lasting societal change.

As UW’s leading community builder for equity and inclusion, Zeno has developed diversity-focused corporate social responsibility programs for Washington industry titans like Costco, Safeco Insurance, Nordstrom and Boeing. These programs have led to numerous scholarship, internship and hiring initiatives, and $ 141 million invested in building an inclusive economy. Most recently, he served as Director of Philanthropy for University Fellowships and Student Programs at the University of California at Berkeley, working with partners around the world to create financial resources and initiatives to support and empower immigrants. low income, first generation, undocumented. , refugee students, LGBTQIA and veterans.

For Zeno, the sector may be the development of higher education, but the mission is to transform systems fairly and just with care to meet the needs of all involved.

You have a long history of building large-scale public-private coalitions, initiatives and partnerships in public research universities. What did you find intriguing about a small Lutheran university in Parkland?

This was really the specific mission goal of the PLU. The intention of focusing the question “How are you serving people, the community and the Earth?” It resonated with my value structure and what I believe it means to be part of a community. The more I learned about PLU, the more motivated I was by the amazing topography and the people around PLU. Our environment here presents an opportunity, and I think perhaps also an obligation, for us to live out our institutional mission as a very dynamic and voluntary community partner.

What energizes you in our environment in particular?

There are few universities in the country that match the diversity of lands and people that surround Parkland. We have urban, suburban, coastal, rural, foothills, and Native American communities. We have the fourth largest US military base in the world next door, which brings with it the ninth largest veterans community. We are at the center of a rapidly changing demographics with the Northwest’s largest unincorporated region bringing with it resource-constrained public schools, underdeveloped neighborhoods, and medically underserved populations seeing their hope. life decrease.

We are truly a microcosm of America. We contribute great things through our programs, faculty, students, and alumni, but it is important that we reflect on how we align these contributions to impact all structures of the system and reflect. what it means to be a partner in these communities and beyond. We talk a lot about a more diverse, fair and sustainable society, but that won’t happen to us. We’re learning how the next generation of lutes can deliver this on purpose, both locally and globally.