Susan’s community development education programs provide rural residents with the knowledge needed to break the cycle of decline impacting many of Illinois’ small, rural communities. Her programs help community groups better understand their individual role in community development and planning; the importance of using a data-driven decision making process; the significance of strategies focused on providing support for entrepreneurs, existing businesses and new business start-ups; the basis for using the community’s unique assets; and the importance of pursuing community economic development from a regional perspective.
Within the specialization, Susan has translated research on rural economics into programming, empowering residents of small, rural communities with information and the opportunity to make informed decisions. As a result, attitudes and behaviors are changing in support of regional thinking and ecosystems that recognize the importance of small business and entrepreneurship as drivers of rural economies. As a result, small business, entrepreneurship and innovation will be the key drivers ensuring a financial future for rural Illinois.
Susan graduated summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2003. Susan began her career with the University of Illinois Extension in 2005. In July of 2019, she accepted a new position as the Extension Specialist in Community Economic Development for Region 3.
Professional Certifications & Trainings
Susan is a member of the Community Development Society (CDS), the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP), the Delta Leadership Network (DLN) and Business Retention & Expansion International (BREI).
Susan’s community development outreach efforts were recognized by the University of Illinois Extension at the 2015 Annual Conference Awards Ceremony, where she was honored with the award for Outstanding Extension Professional.
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