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Experienced Extension leader named to champion strategy, planning, and implementation role

Amanda Cole

URBANA, Ill. — Earlier this year, University of Illinois Extension embarked on a strategic planning process that will run through the end of 2024. This process aims to create a bold strategic plan that sets shared priorities informed by our current grand challenges, establishes core values, and builds community and culture throughout the Illinois Extension system. To further this process and assist with its implementation, Amanda Cole will move into the position of assistant director for strategy, planning, and implementation.

Cole brings over 11 years of leadership experience with Illinois Extension to the role after serving as the county director for Christian, Jersey, Macoupin, and Montgomery counties. She also served as the interim associate director of field operations in 2021-2022. Cole is well-versed in conducting needs assessments, developing plans of work, evaluating outcomes, and upholding the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

“I am looking forward to connecting resources in the field and on campus in this new position as I rejoin the leadership team at the state level,” says Cole. “Focusing on strategies for long-term success and sustainability will position Extension to adapt and thrive in this everchanging world.”

Prior to her leadership roles, Cole was an Extension educator for community and economic development for seven years after serving as an economic counselor and financial advisor in Illinois and Missouri, respectively.

“Illinois Extension is developing its strategy for the next decade, and we are excited to have a critical thinker and strong coalition builder in this new role for Extension,” says Shelly Nickols-Richardson, director of Illinois Extension. “Amanda will work closely with our leadership team to implement key strategic priorities and initiatives that will position us well for the future.”

Cole earned a bachelor's degree in business and an MBA from Eastern Illinois University. She serves on the State Fair Advisory Board as an appointee of the governor. She is a member of Extension Partners, Montgomery County Farm Bureau, and is chair of the Illinois Association of Community Development Extension Professionals.

SOURCE: Amanda Cole, Assistant Director, Strategy, Planning, and Implementation, Illinois Extension

WRITER: Dolan Klein, Sr. Manager for Marketing and Communications,

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.