URBANA, Ill. – As the outreach arm of the state’s land-grant university, University of Illinois Extension translates research and knowledge into practical applications for Illinois residents to help them create solutions to local challenges.
Extension has a local presence in every Illinois county, allowing it to seamlessly link communities, businesses, and the public to the innovative research of the university and its partners. A regional network provides support for the organization’s 650 staff members.
Recently, Extension announced the permanent hire of three assistant directors for the geographic regions, all of whom are current Extension professional that have been elevated to help guide the essential mission at hand. Durriyyah Kemp will serve as assistant director to the northernmost and northeast counties. Janice McCoy will serve as assistant director for the northwest and west central Illinois counties. Doug Harlan will serve as assistant director for the central and southern counties.
The three assistant directors began their new roles Aug. 1.
“Illinois Extension leaders work with a network of local stakeholders to define annual priorities that allow us to respond to evolving and emerging needs while still ensuring meaningful progress toward key outcomes,” says Illinois Extension director and associate dean in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Shelly Nickols-Richardson. “This blend of long-range focus and local accountability is a powerful strategy that ensures we stay true to our mission while we serve communities across the state.
"Durriyyah, Janice, and Doug have years of dedicated service to Illinois Extension, and I look forward to the innovative work they’ll achieve in their new roles.”
Kemp joined Extension in 2006, first serving in youth development and later in social and emotional learning. She is certified in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and has trained Extension staff in cultural awareness and human behavior to create inclusive and cooperative work environments.
Kemp serves on the National Urban Extension Leaders steering committee, as well as the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion action team.
“Extension staff members are fully invested in learning and understanding the needs of the unique communities they serve,” Kemp says. “Our staff delivers information-rich experiences transforming how communities look and feel and how individuals live and work.”
Kemp says a priority will be to create new funding streams to elevate Extension work in the region and establish deeper connections to people and communities.
“County-based staff need the resources and encouragement to thrive and remain on the cutting edge of community needs” Kemp says. “As assistant director, I must ensure the environment is ripe with support for sustainable excellence.”
Kemp will oversee in 15 counties, spanning from Jo Daviess to Kankakee and including Cook County, in the north and northeast region.
McCoy’s Extension career began in 2001 as a family life educator before transitioning to county director for Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties. She is the current president of the Illinois Epsilon Sigma Phi professional association chapter and has been an active member of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, receiving the Distinguished Service Award in 2014.
“My most important role as assistant director will be to ensure that each of the ten units has a solid program plan that serves the needs of their communities,” McCoy says. “Designing research-based programs that improve the lives of individuals and communities is the core mission of Extension, and our local counties are the point of access.”
McCoy will oversee 39 counties in western and central Illinois.
“Extension is a tremendous resource for local communities,” McCoy says. “We harness the groundbreaking research done in a myriad of areas and make that useable for all people.”
Harlan began his Extension leadership career in 2001 as unit leader for Moultrie and Douglas counties. Most recently, he served as county director for DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties.
Harlan is past president of Illinois’ Epsilon Sigma Phi chapter and a board member for the Joint Council of Extension Professionals.
“Extension plays a vital role of bringing research-based educational information to the citizens of the communities in the region,” Harlan says, “but, more importantly, Extension serves as the key community partner that connects and facilitates community collaborations that improve food access, positive youth development, community gardening, conservation activities, healthy living, and much, much more.”
Harlan will oversee Extension programs in the state’s 48 central and southern counties.
“As assistant director, my most important role will be to serve as the communications conduit from the field staff in the region to the program leaders and specialist on campus,” Harlan says. “I am the voice for the region with the Extension Leadership Team.”
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.
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org