Published on October 14, 2015 by Philip Poole  

Allison Heidbrink Nanni of Birmingham has been named director of community engagement at Samford University effective Nov. 1. She will be the primary contact for community work and service-learning initiatives through the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership.

Nanni will collaborate with Samford students, faculty staff and community partners to coordinate opportunities that “enhance student learning and positively impact the community,” according to Drayton Nabers, Mann Center director.

As director, Nanni will compile Samford’s annual Community Engagement Report. Samford students and employees reported 716,902 community engagement hours during the 2014-15 academic year. The hours represent an economic value of $16.5 million. Samford has an additional economic impact on the region of $335 million.

She also will assist with community engagement placements for the new Micah Fellows program that focuses on service and community engagement.

With more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit and community service, Nanni said she has a “deep-seated passion for social justice. Most recently she has headed the Woodlawn Innovation Network for the A+ Education Partnership in Birmingham. Previously, her work included creating programs to impact families of low incomes in the U.S. and abroad, helping to advance community and economic development in inner city Latino neighborhoods and working with the homeless. She also led in strategic communications initiatives at the University of Notre Dame.

“We are very pleased that Allison Nanni has agreed to serve as our director of community engagement,” Nabers said. “Allison has worked extensively with her alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, in its commitment to the community.  She brings experience, energy, high intelligence and a love for this work to Samford.”

Nanni earned a master’s degree in social welfare and policy from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame She also was an International Rotary Scholar at La Universidad Simόn Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela and completed an undergraduate service learning program at La Universidad Catόlica in Santiago, Chile.

Her husband, Christopher, is president and chief executive officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. The Nannis live in Homewood, Alabama, with their three children.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.