The Philadelphia Center Names Gretchen Mielke Executive Director
September 17, 2020
With more than a decade of experience in the areas of experiential learning, local-to-global partnerships and student development, Gretchen Mielke has been named the new executive director of The Philadelphia Center.
The residential student internship program has been affiliated with the Great Lakes Colleges Association for more than 50 years; Albion College has been the Center’s facilitator since 2017.
“I view The Philadelphia Center as this must-go place,” said Mielke, who has served as assistant dean for civic engagement at Widener University since 2015 and will start her new duties on September 22. “I want to leverage the quality experiential learning that TPC has been providing and take it to the next level. We want to be innovative and encourage students to be innovative as well. We want TPC students to be architects of vital change and understand their sense of place—locally, nationally and internationally. TPC students will build their leadership and activate their global citizenship while they are simultaneously forging purposeful careers.”
The Philadelphia Center welcomes undergraduate students from all over the country who want to enhance their academic careers and stand out in the job market. TPC offers more than 800 internships available to all majors. Students earn a full semester of credit as they intern four days a week in an organization of their choice; live with fellow students across the city; learn through city-based seminars at TPC; and experience life in one of the nation’s most dynamic cities.
Since 1967, TPC has offered more than 6,000 college students a semester of experiential education, a unique hands-on opportunity geared toward professional, academic and personal growth in an active urban environment.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Gretchen when I was a professor at Siena College and she served first as the college’s assistant director of academic community engagement and then as a global partnership consultant,” said Dr. Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College. “Her background in student recruitment and community engagement and her passion for experiential learning made her an ideal choice to coordinate TPC. I know that, under her leadership, the Center will evolve and expand in ways that will help not only Albion students but students across the GLCA.”
Mielke said Albion’s commitment to the Center was a driving force in her interest in pursuing the position.
“With so much going on in society, Albion really grabbed me with its desire to train students to be thinkers and problem solvers,” she said. “This opportunity was so special that I wanted to take it on. I think TPC is an amazing global opportunity, and I can combine my passion for social justice and social change with experiential learning.”
Mielke will be based in Philadelphia and, along with recruiter Morgan Mahdavi, will continue to work with boosting enrollment at TPC.
“Albion College is extremely fortunate to have Gretchen on board as TPC’s executive director,” said Dr. Hernan Bucheli, vice president for enrollment and strategic initiatives. “Gretchen brings a wealth of knowledge building, global partnerships, enrollment pipelines and innovative thinking. I am confident that her efforts will contribute to the continued growth and success of The Philadelphia Center and Albion College.”
Mielke earned her bachelor’s degree in American studies at Dickinson College and her master’s in international affairs at American University. Along with her experience at Siena College, she has worked as a program associate at the Bonner Foundation in Princeton, N.J.; a program coordinator for American University’s Office of the Provost and manager of its Academic Living Learning Community Assessment. She was also a Fulbright grantee in South Korea.
“To have this Albion campus away from home is really special and stepping out of your comfort zone is so important for students,” she said. “Come have the TPC urban career experience and deepen your exploration of social change. We look forward to being a transformational part of your student journey.”