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Employee updates (Nov. 2020)

Okechukwu "Okey" Ukaga, formerly the executive director of Extension’s Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, has been appointed assistant dean and director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Extension. In this newly created role, his first priority will be leading the Extension-wide anti-racism task force, which began its work in September. The task force will develop and implement a series of dialogue and listening sessions about the impact of systematic racism in Extension and Minnesota, lead the development of an equity and inclusion strategy and implementation plan for Extension, and work with Extension leadership to ensure that faculty and staff are equipped with the tools, trainings and skills needed to be more anti-racist in Extension programming.

Extension’s Racial Equity and Diversity Task Force is comprised of these members:
Extension Specialists Carol Cardona, Michael Darger and Craig Hassel; Extension Educators Hibaq Dualeh, Dana Trickey, Jocelyn Hernandez-Swanson, Jennifer Garbow, Shirley Nordrum and Kathryn Sharpe; Regional Director Craig Taylor; Program Associate Ren Olive; SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinators Lisa Wong and Sharmyn Phipps; and Government Relations Associate Gwen Gmeinder, who assisted with task force operations.

Stephen Jeanetta joined Extension as associate dean in the Center for Community Vitality. Stephen had been serving as the Extension associate professor in Applied Social Sciences at the University of Missouri. He has extensive experience leading programs that foster development of community-based organizations, inclusive communities, and community planning and engagement. His research has focused on understanding the dynamics affecting community change.

Heidi Roop has joined the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate as an Extension climate scientist. She received a doctorate from the University of Wellington in geology in 2015. After that, she became the lead scientist for science communication and engagement design with the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. Read more about her in the Media Moment near the end of this newsletter.

Debalin Sarangi joined the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics as an assistant professor and Extension specialist. Debalin will focus his efforts on weed management in cropping systems with an emphasis on corn and soybeans. He received his bachelor’s in agriculture from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya in India, his master’s in agronomy from Punjab Agricultural University in India, and his doctorate from the University of Nebraska. He conducted postdoctoral work at the University of Nebraska and Texas A&M University. Most recently, he was an assistant professor of agronomy and Extension weed scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Wyoming.

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