BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The University of Illinois Extension offices in Grundy, Kankakee, & Will counties welcome new Interim County Director Michele Crawford who will lead the Unit until the hiring process can commence for a County Director following the announced departure of Megan Walsh.
“It is with mixed emotions that I leave Extension, because I love the work we do tremendously but I am excited for the personal opportunity that I was offered,” says Extension County Director Megan Walsh who will serve her last day on May 31, “I really love what I do, and maybe someday I will come back, Extension is something that gets into your blood and you can’t help but come back eventually!”
Taking her place at the helm of the Unit is Michele Crawford who will serve as Interim County Director serving Grundy, Kankakee, & Will Counties until the hiring process concludes with a permanent candidate.
Crawford comes to the Unit from Cook County Extension, where she serves as the Community Health Educator. Holding a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Gender Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, she is an accomplished educator with experience managing a variety of staff in the Cook County Extension system. Crawford says she is excited about the prospect of leading the Unit: “I welcome the opportunity to expand my Extension horizons as I learn about and support the efforts of Grundy, Kankakee, and Will County staff and volunteers.”
The Unit wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to Megan for all that she has done. Walsh took charge of the Unit and successfully navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic which presented a host of challenges that needed to be overcome. While other Units saw a sustained decrease in overall program numbers, most programs in the GKW unit saw only a minor decrease before rebounding to pre-pandemic numbers and growing.
The overall health of the Unit, financial and otherwise, has been improved under her leadership. Even with the challenges that COVID-19 brought, Walsh continued to lead with resolve and passion for her work, resulting in strong relationships among stakeholders and constituents in the counties.
“Megan is a valued employee who will be missed. Her efforts throughout Extension as a 4-H youth educator and leadership as the county director speak to her love for Extension work” says Willene Buffett, Interim Regional Director serving Region 1 which includes Grundy, Kankakee, & Will Counties, “Moving forward to fill this vacancy is a top priority.”
Those interested in learning more about the hiring process should contact Interim Regional Director Willene Buffett by way of the Matteson Office (708) 679-6889. More information about Extension can be found online at extension.illinois.edu/gkw
WRITER: Anthony Warmack, Communications & Marketing Program Coordinator
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