Dr. Gretchen Mielke is the post-secondary director for Summer Search Philadelphia. Gretchen joins Summer Search with more than 15 years of experience in higher education focused on experiential learning, civic engagement, student development and local-to-global partnerships. Gretchen is passionate about access to education, fostering civic values and career pathways, forging deep partnerships, and training the next generation of change agents and purposeful professionals.
Previously, Gretchen served as the executive director of The Philadelphia Center, a fifty-five-year-old domestic study away center and internship semester. There she worked with faculty, and staff to bring college students from around the country to live, learn and work in Philadelphia. Students explored issues of race, equity and inclusion, urban economics, and gained work experience in 32 hour per week internships in the Greater Philadelphia region. Gretchen oversaw strategic planning, a marketing rebrand, a center build and relocation, and data reporting. Gretchen fostered relationships with key academic partners and external stakeholders including alumni, an advisory board, local employers, higher education institutional partners, and the state of PA.
As the former assistant dean for civic engagement at Widener University, Gretchen led the university’s civic initiatives including cultivating and sustaining meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community organizations, supporting faculty’s experiential learning efforts including service-learning, community-based research and political engagement, designing and overseeing cohort scholarship students, and leading ongoing civic evaluation efforts. Gretchen’s additional previous roles included: the manager of general education, academic living learning assessment at American University, the assistant director of academic community engagement and global partnership consultant at Siena College, and program associate at the Bonner Foundation. Gretchen also was a Fulbright grantee in South Korea.
Gretchen holds an Ed.D in higher education leadership from Widener University, a Master’s in international affairs from American University and a Bachelor’s of Arts in American Studies from Dickinson College. Her hobbies include going to the library, reading, watching HGTV and raising two little boys with her husband and dogs. Gretchen is also a lifelong advocate for neurodiverse children and adults.