NEAFCS 2017 Slate of National Office Candidates

Debby Mathews, Past President & National Nominating Committee Chair

The NEAFCS National Nominating Committee is pleased to present the following slate of officers for your consideration. The committee worked hard to contact these candidates and provide the encouragement and information needed to secure their applications. We believe you will find them all highly qualified. Please remember that we have a no campaigning for office policy! 

The NEAFCS National Board approved this slate of candidates during their Mid-Year Board Meeting. Central and Southern Region Director candidates will each give a three-minute speech and be elected by Voting Delegates in their respective Business Meetings on Wednesday, October 18 from 7:30 – 10:00 a.m.  The remaining slate will give their speeches at the General Session on Wednesday and be voted on at the NEAFCS Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, October 19 from 9:00 -11:00 a.m.

If you are a voting delegate for your Affiliate, it is your responsibility to read through these position statements. Encourage others in your affiliate to do the same, and decide as an Affiliate which candidate you support for office. Candidate applications will be available for review at the Candidate Display during the Exhibits at Annual Session.

The position statements follow:

Position Candidate/Photo

Why would you like to be a
candidate for this office? 

If you were elected, what would be your top priority/goal for your term? 

Karen Munden (VA)

It would be my honor to serve as the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) President-Elect. I have been a member of NEAFCS for 15 years. During my membership, I have served in several leadership roles including the NEAFCS Southern Region Director and Virginia Affiliate President and Vice President of Public Affairs. I have a thorough understanding of the NEAFCS's mission of providing Extension professionals with opportunities for professional development, recognition, and networking. I also possess an in-depth knowledge of the Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) field and how as educators, we positively impact our communities. I was introduced to the field of study in 1976 and have seen it evolve from a person being educated in the field, to working in the FCS field, to recruiting students to major in the field, and to currently working as a Senior FCS Extension educator. Thus, I possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are well suited for the President-Elect. I am a person who looks for new and unique ways to accomplish tasks. I would like to incorporate my diverse educational background and work experiences to innovative techniques to assist NEAFCS as we move forward into the ever-changing technological era.

I have also served on several different executive boards outside of Cooperative Extension including university committees, community organizations, and city government. While working on various boards, I have learned how to be a good listener and willing to lead and follow when necessary. My past leadership experiences have allowed me to encourage and inspire others to make sound decisions while striving for the best possible outcomes. I like to ensure all involved are engaged. My experiences have also allowed me to become a better leader while assisting organizations to accomplish their mission, goals, and objectives. I have a proven track record of being a successful leader. I welcome the opportunity to serve our National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences as the President-Elect. 

I am very passionate about the work we do as Family and Consumer Sciences educators and am continuously looking for ways to improve the method and manner in which to market FCS to the public. After reading a 2013 article by Dr. Carol Werhan, FCS Associate Professor at Pittsburg State University, regarding a 38% decrease in student enrollment in Family and Consumer Sciences Secondary School Programs during the past 10 years, I became very concerned with the diminishing number of individuals pursuing degrees in the FCS program. Thus, if elected as the President-Elect, I would like to work with a team to develop creative student recruitment tools that would be targeted to middle school and high school students to encourage them to pursue FCS degrees as well as highlight Cooperative Extension Educator as possible career aspirations. I would also like to develop employee retention mentoring materials to assist in retaining the current employees. Prior to my employment with Cooperative Extension, I was employed by two different Land Grant Universities to recruit students in the field of Family and Consumer Sciences. I also produced a mentoring manual while employed at the second university. 

 Pat Brinkman (OH)

I am honored to be a member of NEAFCS. NEAFCS Annual Sessions have inspired me and provided me with so many ideas for programming and working in Extension. I cherish the friendships I have made with FCS Extension Professionals from across the United States. Thus, I would like to give back to NEAFCS.

Personally, I enjoy working with finances more than taking notes in a meeting. As a county extension director I am responsible for preparing a county budget and overseeing the finances of an office with a staff of ten. Thus, besides handling my own personal finances I have experience creating budgets, handling funds and overseeing financial matters. I feel I can assist NEAFCS in effectively utilizing their funds and setting organizational policies to provide them with the services they deserve from their organization.

For the last two years I have been program chair for Annual Session. I would like to serve in another area which will utilize some of the skills. 

I see the role of the treasurer as one who works to ensure every member's dollar will be returned to them in service by the organization, either direct services or through investments for future services. I will work with the finance and investment committees to review our financial policies and update them when needed to guide our organization in making effective decisions for our funds. I will uphold and follow the policies. I will also work with the endowment committee to create policies for the Endowment Funds, along with ensuring they are followed. 

 Joan Koonce (GA)

My area of expertise is financial planning. I love finance, and I like working with others to solve problems. NEAFCS is a great organization that provides awesome benefits to its members, and I want to give back to the organization. Serving as the treasurer is a way I can use my education and experience to be more involved and give back to the organization.  I was asked to serve on the Investment Committee last year, and now that I have had an opportunity to serve on that committee, I have an interest in serving the organization in other ways. I am motivated by challenges and have the skills and abilities to assist the organization with meeting its goals.   My primary goal would be to be a good steward of the organization’s financial resources.  It is difficult to provide a top priority for the term without knowing the organization’s overall goals.  However, it is always important for an organization to be as fiscally responsible as possible with monies spent, saved, and invested.  I would work with the Board and management team to make sure all financial resources of NEAFCS are being used in the best way possible.
Vice President Awards and Recognition

 Susan Routh (OK)

One of the objectives of NEAFCS stated in our by-laws is to "Communicate present and potential contributions of Extension Educators." As Vice President for Awards and Recognition, this officer has an opportunity to lead the Awards and Recognition committee to serve as a beacon for Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). The NEAFCS awards and recognition are tremendous tools to communicate FCS successes and to provide national recognition of outstanding contributions to Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences.

I would embrace the opportunity to work closely with NEAFCS members who are passionate about rewarding NEAFCS members who are daily meeting the needs of clientele by providing outstanding programs and materials. NEAFCS members are vividly aware of the need to promote Family and Consumer Sciences at all levels, and to justify the need for continued funding to support FCS programs. The NEAFCS awards and recognition program serves as a member benefit to provide recognition at the national level and draw attention to the successes of FCS programs. I welcome the opportunity to serve as Vice President of Awards and Recognition, as I am passionate about the awards and recognition program and the benefits that it brings to NEAFCS members and their programs. 

The application process has continued to evolve over the past four years as NEAFCS has introduced and developed the on-line application process. My role would be to lead the Awards and Recognition committee to analyze and continue to modify this process to serve NEAFCS members. Having served this past year on the Awards and Recognition committee, I would seek the recommendations of this committee and continue to engage conversation for the awards and recognition program improvements. 
 Vice President Public Affairs

 Julie Garden-Robinson (ND)

I would be delighted to have an opportunity to run for a role in national leadership as the NEAFCS Vice President Public Affairs. My career in extension is deeply rooted in service, and I believe I have gathered a wide range of experiences and perspectives from my service efforts at the local, state and national levels in Extension and non-Extension activities. The first step in learning typically is awareness, and the advocacy activities and programming of the NEAFCS are vital to sustaining of awareness of Family and Consumer Sciences programs throughout the Extension system. 

I bring some knowledge of the "inner workings" of the NEAFCS Public Affairs committee, including my role as chair and past-chair of a subcommittee. I have served on the writing committee for the NEAFCS Impact Statements for three years and on the committee charged with updating the "Living Well" campaign in 2016-17. I helped review/rewrite some pieces. I have participated in both the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) program and the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) program. I believe I have gathered valuable experience that would help guide me if I were elected in this role. 

I bring energy and enthusiasm to the roles that I fulfill, and I challenge myself to be innovative in my approaches, whether that means greater use of technology or other means to excite our membership and those we reach. I enjoy tracking trends, doing research and communicating sound messages as a member of diverse teams. I would look forward to working with the board to think of innovative ways to accomplish our responsibilities. I enjoy writing and communicating about our profession, so I would wholeheartedly do my best to keep members informed and raise the awareness of what we do throughout the U.S. and beyond with Family and Consumer Sciences programming. 

I would like to continue the momentum established with the work of the preceding Vice Presidents and the subcommittees charged with Public Affairs roles. For the past several years, we have had excellent participation and feedback from the Impact Statements that tell our story throughout the U.S., so my first goal would be to maintain the high quality of those impact statements and use those statement broadly. Many people are unaware that "Extension" is a "system," a nationwide network of educators. 
 Central Region Director

 Cindy Barnett (IN)


A 35 year career in Extension has given me the opportunity to serve, grow, learn, travel, work with awesome colleagues and make true friends. I belong to organizations in which I am passionate about and fully committed to. Being a member, in my opinion, is more than just going to meetings; it means getting involved by being a leader and a follower. I have belonged to NEAFCS for 30 years and have participated fully on the state level. My participation on the national level has been through committee work, which has provided excellent professional growth. I am interested in learning more about my national organization and I feel one way of doing that is by getting more involved as a regional director.

I am concerned about the future of our profession – not only in Extension, but also at the high school and collegiate level. I think it is important we continue to advocate for Extension Family and Consumer Sciences by sharing with and supporting all of our colleagues throughout the USA. Communication within our own Association is important as well as communicating with our sister Associations.

As a baby boomer, I realize our organization must be flexible and change to meet the needs of the young working professionals. Professional development is valued by Extension workers and we need to continue to offer a variety of options. Many states with budget challenges reduce professional development opportunities; mileage is reduced or eliminated, financial support for national meetings is reduced or eliminated; internet connectivity is still difficult for many in rural areas. Are there additional professional development opportunities we should be exploring? Are we meeting the needs for up-to-date research in a timely manner?
 Central Region Director

 Ellen Bjelland (ND)

NEAFCS’s Creed states:

As an Extension educator my prime concern is people.

     If elected, I will make it my priority to serve the leaders and members of the Central Region.  I will further seek to work cooperatively with the NEAFCS leadership team to meet the goals of the organization.

I believe it is my responsibility to give the best of my ability and develop myself to be an effective educator.

     I believe in life-long learning, both on a personal and a professional level.  I read, participate in both formal and informal educational opportunities, and seek challenges to improve myself as an educator and as a person. 

     Taking on a role of leadership at the regional/national level is one more way to develop myself as an educator and leader.  Even though I have held multiple leadership roles over my lifetime, there is always more to learn!

I accept the opportunity to empower individuals, families, and communities to meet their needs and goals through a learning partnership.

     Through my many years in Extension, I have not only sought to improve my skills, but also to mentor, coach and encourage others to develop their potential.  My personal leadership style is that of servant leadership. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world (Robert K. Greenleaf). I prefer to work in a team to accomplish goals, thereby sharing responsibilities as well as successes.  As Central Region Director, I would work with both the National Board and the State Presidents of the Central Region to achieve the organization’s goals.

May I always be willing to accept the challenges of the changing time

Meryl Streep once said at a commencement ceremony “…there is no normal.  There’s only change, and resistance to it, and then more change.”

This quote really resonates with me.  Life is all about change.  Accept it.  Embrace it.  Work with it. Move on.

NEAFCS has most definitely changed over the decades and I am proud to be part of such an organization.  As Central Region Director, I would hope to inspire others to not just accept change, but perhaps even incite it!

As much as is possible, my priority would be to encourage others to take on leadership roles within the organization.  Whether at the district, state, regional or national level, there is much to be gained by stretching ourselves and taking on a position of leadership!
Southern Region Director

 Dianne Gertson (TX)

NEAFCS has provided me opportunities to grow as an Extension professional and as a leader. It would be a great privilege to be able to give back to Our Association. I feel that I could contribute to our profession in a meaningful way. I am willing to devote the time, energy and hard work to continue the excellent work of my predecessors and keep the Southern Region in the forefront. I have been a member since joining Extension in 2007. I have been honored to serve as an officer at the district level, Affiliate 1st Vice President (Awards) President-elect, President and past President. While serving as past President, Texas successfully submitted a bid to host NEAFCS 2018 Annual Session. I have served on the NEAFCS Awards and Recognition Training Subcommittee as a member and chair, NEAFCS Finance Committee and NEAFCS Vice President for Awards and Recognition. I strongly believe in our association and believe that we have wonderful benefits in the professional development offered, recognition and networking opportunities afforded our members. I look forward to being able to continue my service as NEAFCS Southern Region Affiliates as their Director.  

If I were elected to serve as Southern Region Director, my top priority would be to continue the communication between Affiliate leadership and members in the Region and the National Board and Office. I would strive to ensure that all communication occurs in a timely manner. I would also maintain two-way communication by sharing needs, ideas and accomplishments from the Southern Region with the National Board. I would encourage Southern Region Affiliate members to become involved at their state level and on the National level by attending Annual Session, applying for awards, joining committees and considering elected offices.

While serving on the NEAFCS Board, we continually looked at ways to increase member benefits, one such benefit was increasing award scholarships from partial to full scholarships for winners. As Southern Region Director, I would continue to work with the Board to evaluate and improve membership benefits offered to our members. As an Association, we are currently in a favorable financial position. As Southern Region Director, I would practice due diligence and work with the National Board to make sure that this favorable financial position is maintained.

 Southern Region Director

 Keishon Thomas (GA)

I consider it a privilege to serve as the Southern Region Director. I strongly believe in FCS and the elevation of our profession. I would like to share our amazing story with key constituencies by promoting quality classes, programs, series, webinars, tweets and most of all the positive impacts we have on families. I would use my unique knowledge, skills and ability to support the mission of NEAFCS - providing extension professionals with opportunities for professional development, recognition and networking. I want to serve as a catalyst for the facilitation of effective communication and sharing of information among the Executive Board and Affiliate presidents as well as the members they represent. I see this position as an "ambassador" for the Southern Region at-large. I would use this opportunity to cultivate a strong sense of unity built upon the strong foundation set by my predecessors.  As the 'ambassador" for the Southern Region my primary focus would be to ensure that all members are kept abreast of current and accurate NEAFCS-related information through consistent and timely communication. I would achieve this goal by serving as the a conduit for information between the Executive Board and Affiliate Presidents; ensuring Affiliate Presidents are kept fully informed on important factors influencing the FCS profession; and lastly publicizing NIFA impact statements from State Affiliates.