Gray-Girton leads Eigel Center

CFJ leader becomes director of the center for Community Engaged Learning

By Tess Brewer, Staff Writer

The Eigel Center will be welcoming a familiar face as Angela Gray-Girton, long-time assistant director of the Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ), transitions into her new role as director of Community Engaged Learning.

Gray-Girton started  at Xavier in 2008 and has seen the birth and growth of the CFJ from its initial merging of peace and justice programs and ministry programs to its current on-campus programming. She has been involved as an advisor for the Summer Service Internship (SSI) and the weekly community service program X-Change. Throughout her roles in the CFJ, Gray-Girton says she has valued the relationships she has built with students, faculty and community members, as they have given guidance and illuminated her approach to service.

“The idea of solidarity and kinship, I did not fully understand that idea until I came to Xavier. Understanding that idea of mutual relationship building, being tied up in each other’s lives and each other’s chaos, has changed how I think about service today,” Gray-Girton said. 

“My time at the CFJ has been hugely formative, not just in what people say but in what they do. Xavier is a place built on relationships — if you’re here very long you’ll figure that out. I don’t think it’s a very far jump from Xavier being a place of relationship to service being a place of relationship,” she continued. 

Gray-Girton is excited to bring her experience to the Eigel Center, which helps to run collaborations between university education and the larger community and supports the development of service-learning courses that provide a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. 

Photo courtesy of

The Eigel Center for Community Engaged Learning is home to the Community Engaged Fellowship, Community Engaged Faculty Academy and the Community Engaged Scholars program.

As director of Community Engaged Learning, Gray-Girton will be advising incoming and current students in the center’s Community Engaged Fellows program and working with faculty to help develop service-learning curriculum.

She recognizes that her role is crucial because it is so far reaching. 

“There’s a faculty academy where six to eight faculty members a semester participate to learn how to bring Community Engaged Learning into coursework in a way that supports and amplifies learning,” Gray-Girton said. “Community engagement in class is not just an add-on, but deeply integral. This is real, it has a direct impact on communities and students.” 

Having built relationships throughout the Cincinnati community with her role in the CFJ, Gray-Girton will also be bringing what she’s learned about maintaining these connections to the facilitation of the Center’s community partnerships. 

Photo courtesy of Angela Gray Girton

Angela Gray-Girton began her career with Xavier in 2018 at the CFJ and has since been involved in X-Change.

“Being in an advisory board role to maintain 160 community partners, those relationships are only as real as we make them when we show up to them. We probably work really closely with about 50 of them, so there’s a lot we can continue to do… a lot of the work of the Center is building greater relationship”. 

In light of her transition, the CFJ will make some staffing adjustments, but Gray-Girton wants to assure students that programs are continuing to run in good hands. 

“It’s a complicating factor in running an array of experiences, but (the) good news is that X-Change will not be canceled and SSI will go forward,” she clarified. “Tala Ali will support X-Change, and Shannon Hughes will be supporting SSI for this semester.”

For students interested in getting involved in their community, Gray-Girton emphasizes the importance of ‘being within solidarity’, and growing deeper in that understanding. 

“The biggest mistake we make with ‘community’ is that the word is so ubiquitous that we don’t know what it means. Everyone thinks they understand community, building relationships… My experience has been a continued deepening for myself and everyone who is involved in service work,” Gray-Girton said.

“Students will say, ‘I thought I knew,’ but then as they get deeper, they start to understand it deeper. Any student I know that has gotten involved has both met new people and learned more about themselves and the community around them,” she added.