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NC State’s Center for Family and Community Engagement Welcomes New Leadership

headshot of Craig Brookins

Kwesi Craig C. Brookins has been named director of NC State’s Center for Family and Community Engagement, effective Jan. 1, 2021. CFACE is a public service and research center at NC State, founded in 2008 to support family-centered practices through training, technical assistance, evaluation and research. 

Brookins served as the center’s acting director beginning July 2020, when then-director Sarah Desmarais was on scholarly leave. Desmarais, who served as director since 2018, is leaving NC State later this spring to pursue her interests in social justice policy outside the academic domain.  

An associate professor in NC State’s Applied Social and Community Psychology Program since 2012, Brookins also teaches in the college’s Africana Studies program. 

Widely known for his innovative work in community engagement — across campus, in Wake County, regionally and internationally — Brookins intends to connect his interdisciplinary research, teaching and service with CFACE’s goals and priorities. “CFACE is well positioned to expand its community engagement and engaged scholarship to address the complexity of issues many communities face,” he says. 

Brookins has directed multiple partnerships bridging the university and wider community. He  leads the Wake Community-University Partnership (Wake CUP), an institutional engagement initiative designed to leverage the intellectual capital of NC State to address community-identified needs in Wake County. 

He earned the prestigious honor to serve as an American Council on Education Fellow (2018-2019) at Virginia Commonwealth University. From 2016-2019, he served as an Engagement Scholarship Fellow with NC State’s Office for Outreach and Engagement. 

Brookins has been instrumental in forging partnerships between NC State and universities across the African continent. Within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, he helped establish the Africana Studies program in 1997, and has been active in program leadership since. He also led study abroad efforts to the African continent over a number of years.

“We wish Dr. Desmarais all the best in her new career,” says Jeff Braden, dean of NC State’s Humanities and Social Sciences. “She lent CFACE great expertise in evidence-based policy and practice, especially as it impacts public health and safety. Dr. Brookins will be able to build on the progress she made as he brings his deep knowledge and experience about community engagement to take the center to new levels of care, service, research and engagement.”