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We are just a few of Extension’s DEAI front-runners. Extension’s DEAI team is really composed of all of us making a commitment to championing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. All of us are essential to establishing mutual respect in our workplace and creating an inclusive environment for all staff members and those we serve.
Cintia Aguilar is a Program Manager at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Community and Rural Development. Cintia is originally from Costa Rica where she attended the University of Costa Rica, obtained a master’s degree in psychology and graduated with honors. She started working with Latino families in North Carolina in 1997 in Pitt County at the Outpatient Mental Health Center and later with Pitt County Schools with the Migrant Education Program. Her career with Extension started in 2001 as the Migrant Education Program Identification and Recruitment Coordinator funded by the NC Department of Public Instruction.
In 2007 Cintia was offered to work directly with Extension with a focus on
programming across Extension’s core areas to engage with the Latino Community.
Cintia is a co-founder of the Juntos para una Mejor Educación Program and co-developer of the Extension Farmworkers Health and Safety Program. Cintia is part of the NC Coming Together for Racial Understanding Team.
Cintia’s personal and professional life has enlightened by the opportunity to share experiences and learn from people identified by others as different and from a wide range of groups i.e., non-traditional families, religion, age, social-economic status, place of origin or residency, skin color, disabilities, and so on. This journey inspires her to be committed to being part of projects and programs that include building opportunities and understanding to integrate communities.
Shannon Brooks is the Organizational Development Leader. Shannon’s commitment to DEAI training in the workplace spans more than twenty-five years. After an early career in the federal sector, she went into Extension to inspire and help people live their best lives through access to life-long education. Her hope is that enriching others’ lives with best practices will motivate them to implement such practices, and she believes this applies to every subject matter and profession. In her experience, DEIA-focused programming provides a multitude of benefits that may be seen at every level of an institution. Her passion is encouraging positive behaviors and attitudes that foster a productive, professional work environment where folks feel comfortable bringing their best authentic selves to the workplace.
Maru Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor and Youth Development Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. She received her doctorate in student development with a concentration in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her areas of inquiry include youth development with a focus on activism, critical positive youth development, social justice, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people across familial, school, and community contexts. Currently, Dr. Gonzalez is Program Director for #PassTheMicYouth, a youth-led podcast, and blog which aims to amplify youth voices, shine a spotlight on youth activism, and provide educators with resources for cultivating critical consciousness. She also serves as co-PI for the Empowering Youth and Families Program, an opioid prevention education program for youth and their caregivers in rural North Carolina. Apart from research and Extension, Dr. Gonzalez teaches courses related to youth development, social justice in youth and family science, program development and evaluation, and complex families.
Susan Jakes is the Associate State Program Leader for Community and Rural Development. Susan is passionate about co-creating solutions with communities that can move beyond status-quo-remediation of problems. I want to live in a world where all people can live into their capability and passion while working together to build community resilience and vitality. In reality, many things are keeping this from happening. What role can Extension play in creating this world? To even begin this work, Extension must expand its engagement with audiences in communities, building capacity to connect with all types of people as our communities quickly diversify. Our communities are also bifurcated, how can we come together and build understanding of our shared humanity across differences? Power is very entrenched, how can people that have been marginalized be supported to lead with self-determination? These questions lead me to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility to build the capacity we need to do these things. I am grateful for my colleagues/ mentors/ teachers in this work and hopeful both personally and professionally that we can build an inclusive North Carolina.
Jayne is the Program Coordinator for Steps to Heath, NC State University’s SNAP-Ed Program. She began her career in North Carolina as a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator in 2007 with N.C. Cooperative Extension. Over a ten-year period in the field, she built a financial education program featuring money management classes and home buyer workshops. She also taught classes in food safety, healthy eating, and food preservation. She believes that knowledge can be empowering. While in the field, she chaired the Southeast District Latino Advisory Council and was an active in the N.C. Cooperative Extension Latino Advisory Council (CELAC).
Jayne is an advocate for safe and affordable housing, supporting volunteering with Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministries, Inc. (WARM). She has served on the Board of Directors for Partnership for Children of Johnston County, United Way of Johnston County, Reach Out Johnston, Garner Planning Commission, and Garner Area Ministries.
A native of Ohio, Jayne received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Ohio State University. The year she spent as a Youth Development Volunteer through International 4-H in Panama was instrumental in her professional trajectory. She began her career at Ohio State University as a 4-H Extension Associate, advising students in the Admissions Office, University College, and the College of Nursing.
Craig has worked as an Extension agent for the N.C. Cooperative Extension for over 25 years. He is presently the Extension Area Specialized Agent in commercial vegetable and fruit production in the 39 Western most counties of North Carolina.
He graduated from Berea College, Berea, Kentucky with a BS Degree in Agriculture and has a lot of experience in all aspects of commercial vegetable and fruit production, home gardening and landscape design. His special interests are woodland botanicals and unusual edibles like pawpaw. He grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina in Cherokee County where he had a small sustainable farm for many years. He now has a small forest farm in Zirconia, NC.
Craig worked in the Piedmont of North Carolina for many years as an Urban Horticulture Agent working with homeowners and Extension Master Gardeners in Forsyth County. He is past Director of the Arboretum at Tanglewood in Clemmons, NC and was the Head Horticulturist for Wake Forest University. He is known in the Piedmont area for writing for the Winston-Salem Journal and other regional magazines. Throughout his career he has been an advocate of diversity and equality in society as well as the workplace.