NEED hosts successful Northeast Extension DEIJ Workshop

May 22, 2023

In June 2022, the Association of Northeast Extension Directors (NEED) set advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Extension as its year-long regional priority. NEED’s goal was to ultimately increase Northeast Extension expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion; build regional capacity; provide individual professional development; cultivate culturally competent leaders; and improve community-based programs.

NEED tasked a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Project Team (Katherine Cason, Eduardo Gonzalez Jr., Michelle Rodgers, Francine Sulinski, Lisa Townson, Jennifer Volk, and NEED Executive Director Ali Mitchell) with figuring out how the organization could make substantial progress on these goals within one year. The Team ultimately decided to bring in a seasoned Extension professional, and certified Coming Together for Racial Understanding facilitator, Abby Harper to serve as Lead Facilitator who, with an exceptional regional facilitator team, would design and deliver a rigorous regional workshop geared toward community focused Extension personnel. As of last week, Dr. Harper and that facilitator team — Patreese Ingram, Justine Lindemann, Cristy Schmidt, Melissa Schroeder, and Jennifer Seabrook-Scott — did just that.

Northeast Extension DEIJ Workshop Facilitator Team (from left to right): Ali Mitchell (NEED Executive Director, Host); Abby Harper (Lead Facilitator); Justine Lindemann, Patreese Ingram, Cristy Schmidt, Melissa Schroeder, and Jennifer Seabrook-Scott.

From May 8-11, 2023, twenty Extension professionals from ten different Land-grant Universities met in Philadelphia Pennsylvania for the Northeast Extension DEIJ Workshop. This Workshop advanced northeast regional capacity to incorporate DEI principles in Extension programming across all program areas by exposing participants to Coming Together processes and principles, empowering them to deliberately investigate biases, giving them tools to practically bring the lessons learned into their work, and asking them to engage with the important question of how all Extension programs can better address issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. 

NEED is incredibly proud of this work which was started by the NEED DEIJ Project Team, was brought to life by the incredible Facilitator Team, and successful because of the participants. We look forward to seeing the effects of this effort, and more like it, for weeks, months, and years to come.

For more information about this Workshop and NEED’s other regional activities, contact us at [email protected].