Extension strengthens community outreach in northeastern Illinois with new leadership

URBANA, Ill. – Community problems deserve community solutions. For more than 100 years, community-based University of Illinois Extension experts have been solving local problems with local solutions based on academic research.

Director Marilu Andon will serve northeastern Illinois communities as the new Extension County Director serving Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties.

In northeastern Illinois, a new director is now leading local efforts. Extension recently welcomed Marilu Andon as the new County Director serving Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties.

“Marilu comes to this new role with a wealth of experience, having served in multiple positions throughout her more than 28-year career with Illinois Extension,” says Durriyyah Kemp, Assistant Director of Extension. “She embodies dedication to service.  Welcoming Marilu to this role is an excellent opportunity for Extension to strengthen its commitment further to the people and communities we serve.”

Andon will provide overall leadership and direction to a team that includes educators, program coordinators, and support staff. Together, they will address the important issues that face Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties.

“I look forward to working hand-in-hand with our constituents and stakeholders to address the problems that our communities are facing today,” says Andon.

Andon has been with Extension since 1994, progressing through almost every role which she says helped prepare her for being a director. Most recently, she provided leadership as a 4-H and Youth Development Educator; a position she’s held since 2011. In that role, she led Juntos, an afterschool program for Latinx youth to help prepare them for college. She was also part of Soccer for Success, an afterschool program with an emphasis on youth nutrition and physical fitness.

Andon has a background in working directly with the communities she serves, something she is excited to bring to the table as director.

“My first order of business is to have a fully staffed unit. We are stronger when our team is strong,” says Andon, “I am looking forward to expanding our outreach to unserved and underserved communities and working with our stakeholders and Extension Council to access the needs of our constituents to empower the communities we serve.”

Previously, the unit was led by Interim Director Michele Crawford who will return to her full-time duties as a Community Health Educator serving Cook County after a short transition period.

“I’m grateful to have worked with the dedicated and talented staff in Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties,” Crawford says. “I look forward to seeing the unit continue to grow and thrive under Marilu’s skilled leadership.”

Andon will be based in the Kankakee County office in Bourbonnais and can be reached at (815) 933-8337 or at andon@illinois.edu.

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.

SOURCE: Durriyyah Kemp, Region Assistant Director; Marilu Andon, County Director; Michele Crawford, Interim County Director.

MEDIA ACCESS: The photo in this article is available to download for media use. Direct press questions or interview requests to Anthony Warmack at warmacka@illinois.edu or (217) 244-5813.