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Karen Winter-Nelson

photo of Karen Winter-Nelson wearing a blue shirt
Evaluation Specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources

W-425 Turner Hall 1102 S Goodwin Ave MC-047 Urbana IL 61801

(217) 244-5887
Program Areas
Commercial Agriculture
Local Food Systems and Small Farms
Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy

Karen works to develop capacity in measurement and evaluation and communications within the Agriculture and Agribusiness (AAB) and Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy (NREE) program areas, with the mission of supporting the economic viability and environmental sustainability of natural and managed landscapes and productive lands in Illinois. 

Before coming to Extension, she was Program Director of the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC), a University of Illinois applied research program that works to reduce the energy footprint of the State of Illinois. At the University of Illinois, she has worked on programs and projects in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, energy efficiency, and affordable housing, in partnership with national, state, local, and nonprofit agencies including the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Housing Development Authority, US Department of Housing’s Office of Native American Programs, and the American Association of Retired Persons. Her work has included developing and managing capacity in measurement and tracking systems, evaluation, and communication, and providing data-driven analyses, programs, and services. Her first University of Illinois position was on a workforce study based at Egerton University, Kenya. 

Prior to coming to Illinois, Karen held positions at the United States Agency for International Development and at a transportation planning firm. 

Karen has a master’s degree in City Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor of arts degree in International Relations from the University of California at Davis.

Karen’s work supporting the use of measurement and evaluation (M&E) systems as a way to strengthen university public engagement programs can be found at