Allison Cleary Director of the Writing Center; Instructor, Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts; Peace Corps Prep Coordinator



M.A. Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
B.A. Kenyon College

With a background in magazine journalism, nonprofit writing and international service, I believe that effective communication and storytelling help to connect us as human beings and as stewards of the globe. In both the classroom and the international landscape effective communication breaks barriers, educates and links us as integral members of a community.

Much of my own writing and editing has revolved around health, social justice and identifying the exceptional within the ordinary. Prior to coming to Saint Michael’s College in 2006, I was senior editor for Eating Well, a national magazine. I have edited and written for Reader’s Digest Health Publications, Da Capo Press and a variety of consumer, non-profit and corporate publications that include books, magazines, newsletters and websites.

For six years I coordinated the international service program of MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) at St. Michael’s College, leading groups of students to Kolkata, India, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala where we worked with families and individuals of marginalized communities beside organizations that focus on sustainable change and grass roots empowerment.

Courses I Teach:

  • Reporting for Media
  • Multimedia Reporting
  • Storytelling & Design for Publication
  • The Magazine & Feature Writing
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Internship Practicum
  • Strategic Writing
  • Teaching Writing

In my writing, reporting and publishing courses, students explore the art of interviewing, experiment with the vast nuances and power of language, and learn to identify and practice elements of strong storytelling and communication through a variety of mediums. They study how to best reach specific audiences and how to adapt their skills to the task at hand.

I often weave community-engaged projects into the classroom so that students gain an understanding of complex social issues and real world challenges while community organizations benefit from student learning. The projects involve research, an understanding of audience and mission and compelling delivery of the materials produced.

In the internship course students explore professional work settings as they partner with an organization or company in roles that exercise their knowledge and skills, from videography to data analytics to social media outreach. The class supports them through challenges and helps students weave their experiences into future job interviews, networking, and skills needed to create professional success in life after college.

The Defender

I served as the faculty advisor for The Defender, Saint Michael’s award-winning student newspaper. Recent accoldades for The Defender include:
  • A student from Reporting for Media course in spring 2018 published their final project, a feature article titled “Running Scared? School Shooting Drills in Vermont Spark Debate on Safety Approaches,” in the Burlington Free Press in July 2018.
  • Executive editor of the campus publication The Defender, Kelsey Bode, won the Reporter of the Year award from the New England Press Association in 2017.
  • Senior editor for the campus publication The Defender, Madeline Clark, was a finalist for Reporter of the Year Pacemaker Award from the Associate Collegiate Press, 2018.


In my dual role as instructor and as the International Service Coordinator with  the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE) office on campus, I lead service trips to Calcutta, India and to the Dominican Republic for students and staff. I consider the roles to be deeply linked to each other. In both the classroom and the international landscape effective communication breaks barriers, educates and connects us as human beings.

Awards & Recognition

James Beard Award for Magazine Writing on Food & Health for investigative reporting.

Community Engaged Educator Award, St. Michael’s College, 2017

“Allison has the natural ability to connect with students on their level and with her high standards. She effectively encourages, challenges, and nurtures them to grow as civically minded student journalists and thoughtful human beings. As advisor to the campus publication Allison coaches students through the writing, editing and design process while emphasizing the importance of thoughtful, ethical, fact-based journalism in our community and democracy.  Under her guidance, students have effectively reported stories on important and sensitive topics.

“In her role as professor and internship advisor she has developed and fostered important relationships with dozens of community partners in a wide range of media and communication fields.  Like her community engaged work in other classes, Allison has directly helped students connect theory and academic inquiry into practical, real-world applications.

“She is a passionate powerhouse who knows how to build relationships between community members and college students. She teaches people by engaging them, by exposing them to new cultures, by sharing bits of herself, and most importantly by being herself.”

Senior Class Appreciation Award, St. Michael’s College, 2013: 

“Allison Cleary has dedicated herself to serving her community both at home and abroad. A role model and skilled mentor for countless students in class, Cleary goes above and beyond as the international coordinator in the college’s volunteer service organization MOVE, leading trips to the Dominican Republic and Kolkata, India. She balances these demanding responsibilities with the same kindness, brilliance and compassion she lives her life by. She works to challenge and support her students, to help them grow as individuals, providing them with the resources and support they need to have amazing experiences in the classroom and abroad.”


Life Off Campus:

Outside of the college I am a partner in Vermont Story Lab, a network that helps nonprofits weave storytelling through the fabric of their organizations to expand reach and impact. We host labs to nonprofits across the state to help create more effective communication for use in fundraising and other resource appeals, media outreach and information sharing.

When not teaching or writing, you might find me traveling in Central America (or dreaming about it), biking and hiking with my husband, laughing and pondering life with my daughters, and exploring nature’s many mysteries.

Recent News

Allison Cleary of the media studies, journalism and digital arts faculty oversaw the recent establishment of a new Writing Center office on the entry level of Durick Library (Room 222). The Center, a creatively improvised suite of rooms ideal not only for English language learners who use it for coaching, but also for people having a background with individualized education plans or anyone in general who struggles to write. “The goal is to create a safe space, with the support and resources, which allows students to produce their best work,” Allison said.
(posted February 2022)

Allison Cleary, instructor of media studies, journalism and digital arts, led a MOVE service trip to Kanab, Utah from January 5-12, 2019. The group worked at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary , home to about 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, goats, birds and other rescued animals, and the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for homeless animals. Participants helped care for the animals and helped prepare them for “forever homes” by walking dogs, socializing animals, and doing cleaning projects.
(posted January 2019)

Allison Cleary, instructor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts, taught a class this past fall that was featured in the newsletter for Burlington’s Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). Her multimedia class does volunteer service at COTS to get real-life, hands-on experience while helping them increase their understanding of complex social issues and nonprofit organizations. As part of the project, her students interviewed residents of Canal Street Veterans Housing.
(posted June 2018)