Vice President Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress

Cathann Kress
Vice President
Extension and Outreach
2150 Beardshear
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: 515-294-5390
Twitter: @cathannkress

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“We’re focused on feeding people, keeping them healthy, helping their communities to prosper and thrive, and turning the world over to the next generation in better shape than we found it.” -- Cathann Kress


The Vice President for Extension and Outreach provides leadership for the statewide unit of the university responsible for delivering on the land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service for the public good. The Vice President works across the university to provide outreach programs that share information and technology to educate and innovate, and provides advice and counsel to the Provost and the President on Extension and Outreach issues.


  • Address Iowa’s changing demographics.
  • Adapt to increasingly complex problems.
  • Broaden Extension and Outreach’s role.
  • Invest in professional development.
  • Use technology more effectively.

Recent Activities

  • Through multiple programs, Extension and Outreach addresses four signature issues: Food and the Environment, Health and Well-being, Economic Development, and K-12 Youth Outreach.
  • The ISU Extension and Outreach Program Catalog organizes programs by our signature issues. Elected county extension councils use this guide to determine educational programs to address local needs. We also continue to respond to emerging issues and concerns.
  • Technology is expanding our ability to serve Iowans. For example, Our Ag Decision Maker averages 4,500 visits each day, our State Fair food finder app was viewed more than a million times, and online visits increased 30 percent in the last year. Iowans connected virtually with us through more than 1.5 million website visits and downloads of educational materials and courses.
  • Iowa State University serves as the North Central STEM Hub for the Governor’s STEM initiative, promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education and economic development across Iowa. Extension and Outreach throughout the state supports the strategic goals of this hub and provides an important capacity advantage.
  • New strategic initiatives include: Integrated Latino Youth, Family, Community, and Business Development, building on programming in Sioux City, Perry, and West Liberty; Gateway to STEM, with a state-of-the-art STEM learning center on the Iowa State campus for K-12 youth, ISU students, ISU faculty/staff, and the public; and Art Extension 2015–17, incorporating art as a means of broader community development for youth and adults.
  • Our Young Iowans Speak forum was the first of 13 state events planned across the country to learn how extension services can meet the needs of citizens in the future.
  • Our Partnership Perspectives meetings around the state bring together small groups of key partners and community leaders. We are gathering their ideas on future opportunities to partner and further mutual goals.
  • In a Civil Rights Compliance Review in 2013, USDA declared ISU Extension and Outreach to be in compliance with U.S. Civil Rights laws and USDA’s Civil Rights rules and regulations. We’re implementing USDA's recommendations to increase the level of diversity and inclusion in both our Extension and Outreach workforce and program participation.


  • Ph.D. in Education – University of Iowa; Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 1990
  • M.A. in Education, Counselor Education/College Student Development – University of Iowa, 1986
  • B.S. in Social Work – Iowa State University; Psychology and Sociology emphases, Highest Scholarship Undergraduate in Curriculum, 1983

Professional Experience

  • Military Community and Family Policy, U.S. Department of Defense, Senior Policy Analyst, 2008-2011; received DoD Secretary’s Certificate of Commendation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), National Director Youth Development Programs, 2002-2008; received USDA Secretary Honors Award
  • Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension Assistant Director and State Program Leader, 4-H Youth Development, 2000-2002
  • Iowa State University Extension, Youth Development Specialist and Youth and Family Violence Specialist, 1994-2000

Selected Leadership Roles

  • Board on Agricultural Assembly, Association of Public Land Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension Section, North Central Representative, 2011-present
  • 4-H National Leadership Committee Member, 2014
  • National 4-H Council Trustee, 2013-present
  • Iowa 4-H Foundation Trustee, 2011-present

Professional Interests

  • Youth Development
  • Gifted Education
  • Non-formal Educational Systems