Regional Director Biographies

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Region 1 – Cheryl Heronemus

Cheryl Heronemus plays a major leadership role in extension operations in the counties of Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux Counties. Cheryl links county extension councils, employees and clientele with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to ensure that quality programs are delivered to meet identified needs of Iowans. 

Cheryl’s major responsibilities include outreach, leadership and management. She establishes and maintains partnerships with councils, communities and staff, assists in identification of issues and needs of local clients and helps match these needs with a relevant program response.  As a regioanl director, Cheryl ensures the effectiveness of each county extension council through education, training, coaching and consultation. 

As a leader in entrepreneurial programming efforts, Cheryl develops partnerships among county staff, extension councils and colleges at Iowa State University resulting in new endeavors. Cheryl worked with Bob Dodds, assistant vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach to create a partnership with the Colleges of Design, Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences that resulted in the Rising Stars Internship Program. The internship program brings three interns to Region 1 for the summer months to bring regional food producers, consumers, food service agencies and the public together to address obstacles and move forward with opportunities related to regional food systems. Since its inception in 2014, the program has expanded to reach several other extension regions around Iowa.

Cheryl has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education/special education and a Master of Science in administrative studies and human resource management.

 

Region 2 - Bryan Whaley

Bryan Whaley serves as the regional director for the counties of Emmet, Hancock, Kossuth, Palo Alto and Winnebago. As a regional director, he provides leadership, vision and coaching to county extension councils and staff to meet the programmatic, legal and financial needs of the system. Their work strengthens the partnership between Iowa State University and county extension districts resulting in improved institutional outreach and higher quality of life for all Iowans.

Previously, Bryan was a regional youth program specialist in the 4-H Youth Development Program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. In that role, he also provided program leadership for the 4-H Shooting Sports Program. Prior to joining ISU Extension and Outreach he spent nine years as an educator in the middle school and elementary levels. Bryan also has experience in volunteer management, program management, team building and development, risk management and strategic planning.

Bryan received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Simpson College and his master’s degree in agricultural education with an emphasis in extension from Iowa State University.

 

Region 3 – Donovan Olson

Donovan Olson is regional director serving Worth, Mitchell, Cerro Gordo, Floyd and Franklin counties. As regional director, he provides leadership to county extension councils and oversees the delivery of educational programs that align with the needs of the region.

Prior Olson served as city administrator for Ogden, Iowa. He also served as a program coordinator with the Institute for Design Reserch and Outreach at Iowa State Univeristy. As a program coordinator, he was involved in training newly elected township trustees and assisted in establishing a master's degree program in community and regional planning for working professionals. In support of the program, he was instrumental in building partnerships between community colleges and the College of Design, and actively involved with Iowa's Rural Main Street Program.

From 2003 to 2010 he represented the counties of Boone and Dallas as the state representative to the Iowa House District 48 and was named the "Legislator of the Year" by the Iowa Association of Regional Councils of Government. Earlier, he served as a member of the Boone County Board of Supervisors.

He received his bachelor's and Master's degreee from Iowa State University, College of Design.

 

Region 4 – Kraig Tweed

Kraig Tweed serves as the regional director for Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties. Kraig is a member of the transition team; a member of the accreditation, evaluation, recognition committee; and the human resources and personnel administration committee. He has over 25 years of leadership experience supervising professional and para-professional staff.

Prior to joining Extension and Outreach, Kraig served on the Greene County extension council from 2003-2012 in various leadership positions. 

Kraig served in the U.S. Air Force for over 10 years. During this time he taught classes with the Community College of the Air Force attaining master instructor status. While serving, he earned a MBA in business from Wayland Baptist University along with a Bachelor of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Kraig was raised on a grain and cattle farm in North Dakota.    

 

Region 5 - Molly Hewitt

Molly Hewitt serves as regional director in the counties of Monona, Plymouth and Woodbury. She provides leadership to county extension councils and oversee delivery of regional educational programs that align with the needs of the region. 

Molly served as the extension director for ISU Extension and Outreach Woodbury County since 2015 before taking this position in 2019. Previously, she held positions with YMCA and United Way of Siouxland.

Molly has been successful in securing grants to support educational programming in Woodbury County. She has held numerous leadership roles on committees related to education and economic development in the Siouxland area on behalf of ISU Extension and Outreach.

Molly received a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree in administrative studies from the University of South Dakota.

 

Region 6 – Terry Janssen

Terry Janssen serves as regional director for the counties of Cherokee, Ida, Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, and Pocahontas.

Terry has been the ISU Extension and Outreach Region 6 director since 2012 after serving as the Region 2 director the previous two and a half years. He currently serves on the council development committee for County Services as well as the state ISU Extension and Outreach awards committee.Terry also is a certified Navigating Difference trainer.

Before accepting the regional director position in 2009, Terry had been the O’Brien County director since 2000. Prior to working for extension, he worked in agri-business for 12 years and taught high school vocational agriculture.

Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and master’s degree in professional agriculture from Iowa State University.

 

Region 7 – Jerry Chizek

Jerry Chizek serves as regional director for the counties of Hamilton, Humboldt, Webster, and Wright Counties.

Jerry has served since August 1998, first as the Calhoun County extension education director and now as a regional director. At the 2015 ISU Extension and Outreach Annual Conference, he was recognized as the Epsilon Sigma Phi Alpha Mu Chapter Mid-Career Award winner.

Jerry earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Iowa State University. He spent the first 18 years of his professional career serving as a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor.

Jerry and his wife, Pam, are the parents of three sons and grandparents to two grandsons. They live in Manson, Iowa, the home of the only stoplight in Calhoun County.

 

Region 8 – Rich Wrage

Rich Wrage is the regional director for Boone, Hardin, Marshall and Story counties.

Rich believes in lifelong learning. He partners with regional and community leaders and Extension and Outreach staff to identify local needs and priorities and to deliver research-based educational programs and services. Rich provides leadership to locally elected extension councils to help members identify opportunities for collaboration, program and volunteer development. He also assists councils with grant and contract management to support local initiatives.

By being involved and in touch, Rich’s work promotes healthy lifestyles, advances healthy environments, and supports healthy economies – improving the quality of life for Iowans. His work truly reaches diverse audiences: youth, families, farmers, communities and businesses.

Rich has been the regional director since 2009. No stranger to Extension and Outreach, he served as the Boone County extension director from 1994 to 2009 and previously worked for Agri-King Inc. and Carroll Kuemper High School.

Rich has held many leadership positions including serving as the president of Epsilon Sigma Phi - a national honor society for extension service workers, the National Association of Agriculutral Agents, Iowa State University Council of Extension Professionals, Gamma Sigma Delta - the honor society of Ag, and was a member of the Iowa Associaitonof County Extension Education Directors - no longer organized. He has also been recognized for outstanding service:

  • National Associaiton of Agricultural Agents, Distinguished Service Award
  • Iowa State Unviersity Extension, County Extension Director of Excellence
  • Epsilon Sigma Phi, Mid-Career Service
  • National Associaiton of Agricultural Agents, Communication Awards, National Finalist, Regional Finalist, State Winner
  • National Associaiton of Agricultural Agents, Achievement Award
  • Epsilon Sigma Phi, Early Career Service
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Achievement Team Award- Carbon Monoxide Team

Rich earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural education at Iowa State University.

 

Region 9 – Adriane Carlson

Adriane Carlson joined the regional director group in November 2018. She serves Region 9, which include the counties of Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Grundy and Tama.

As an educator, Adriane has over 16 years of experience in organizational leadership, human services, parent education and working to build community resource collaborations and partnerships in addition to administrative responsibilities. She brought change and transformation that align with the goals and mission of ISU Extension and Outreach

Carlson has received several certifications in the field of education. Waterloo Community School District named her the 2016 Employee of the Year.The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier selected her as one of the “Top 20 Under 40,” a designation that honors outstanding young leaders in the Cedar Valley region who are making a difference in their work and personal lives to make the area a better place.

Carlson received a bachelor’s degree in family service from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Phoenix, Des Moines.

 

Region 10 – Jim Harken

Jim Harken serves as regional director in Region 10 covering Benton, Linn and Jones counties. He will be Identifying opportunities for growth, working with and coaching the elected county councils, finding new lines of funding, all while cultivating and nurturing community partnerships.

Harken has served as the special projects manager for ISU Extension and Outreach’s County Services unit. In that role, he developed, introduced and provided state training in support of ISU Extension and Outreach’s new intranet platform, “My Extension.” He also edited and maintained the extension employee database, plus assisted various committees across the extension system.

Other areas of expertise include: public relations, community development, historic preservation, radio and TV broadcasting and being the master of ceremonies for many events across Iowa. He was elected to the Iowa State University Professional and Scientific Council and was the professional development chair. He’s been recognized by the State of Arizona as an outstanding spokesperson and excellent educator, He received a Commendation of Excellence Award for planning and executing the Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo and was nominated for a 2012 Emmy award for work on Arizona Wildlife Views TV show.

Harken received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Public Administration from Western International University.

 

Region 11 – Paul Mariman

Paul Mariman currently serves as the regional director for the counties of Delaware, Dubuque and Jackson. Paul links county extension councils, employees and clientele with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to ensure that quality programs are delivered to meet identified needs of Iowans. 

His extension career started as extension educator in Local Food Systems/Small Farm and Farm Business Management and Marketing with University of Illinois Extension. There he provided adult audiences instruction in: local foods, grain marketing and business management. In addition, Paul has received a number of awards for his work in special projects including: Coordination of Rescue Training Partnership, Mississippi Katrina Relief Project and Displaced Worker Program.

Prior to his service in extension, Paul worked for an electric and gas utility in a variety of disciplines including contract negotiation, information technology and electric dispatching.

Paul received a Master of Science degree in agricultural business economics as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural industries and animal industries from Southern Illinois University.

 

Region 12 – Terry Torneten

Terry Torneten serves as regional director for the counties of Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Greene, Guthrie and Shelby. Leadership in the development of networks and partnerships are fundamental responsibilities for Terry.

Terry’s education and experience include a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Arts in management from Bellevue University. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in Underwood, Iowa. He taught for seven years prior to serving as the county extension educator director in Shelby County. He became a regional director in 2009. 

Terry is an Iowa native. He grew up and lived in rural western Iowa all of his life.

 

Region 13 – Open

 

Region 14 – Sherry Ford

Sherry serves Jasper, Mahaska, Marion and Poweshiek counties effective June 1, 2019. Sherry has had over 30 years of experience in teaching, organizational leadership; program planning, evaluation, parent education and working to build community resource collaborations and partnerships in addition to administrative responsibilities.

Sherry served as the Mills County Extension Director for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 1999 to June 2019. Prior to that, she was an elementary teacher in Omaha, Neb. and Malvern, Iowa. Sherry secured state and federal grants to support educational programming in Mills County and Southwest Iowa. She has held numerous leadership positions on committees related to education and economic development in Southwest Iowa and within Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Sherry received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master’s degree in Management, from Bellevue University.

 

Region 15 – Gene Mohling

Gene Mohling is the regional director for the counties of Keokuk, Johnson, and Washington. He has been in this position since 2009 and previously served as the county extension education director from 1995 to 2009 in Johnson County, 2002-2009 in Washington and 2005-2008 in Iowa County.

Gene is the chair of the human resources and administration committee in the County Services division and is on the finance committee. He is and has served as a member of the civil rights review response employment task force, personnel policy committee, First Advantage Background Screening Service committee, fair entry and fiscal policy development committee. Gene was a six year member of the Iowa 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, has lead numerous capital campaigns and worked to establish several 4-H endowment funds to support county youth programming.

Gene has served as the 2007 state chair of the Alpha Mu Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, state chair of the 2009 Iowa Agricultural Extension Association and received the 2007 National Distinguished Visionary Leadership Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Ag education and a master’s degree in animal production from Iowa State University along with an associate degree in animal science. Gene completed his doctoral study at Ohio State University in animal breeding (genetics) in 1983. He was previously employed as an Ag science instructor from 1983-1995 before his employment with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

 

Region 16 – Jeff Macomber

Jeff Macomber serves the counties of Cedar, Muscatine, Clinton and Scott for Region 16.

Jeff Macomber has nearly 30 years of experience delivering research-based educational programs through extension services in both Iowa and Illinois. Since 1996, Macomber served as a 4-H youth development field specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach in central Iowa. He is a skilled facilitator with considerable experience developing and providing best practices for staff and volunteer development. All of his experience is an excellent foundation for working with county extension councils and bringing Iowa State resources to the counties in the region.

Macomber has been a member of the National Association of 4-H Extension Agents since 1996 and in 2015 he was elected president of the Iowa Association of 4-H Extension Agents. He is actively involved in his community serving as a board member and president of the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association in Des Moines.

Macomber received his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and his Master of Public Administration from Iowa State University.

 

Region 17 – Alan Ladd

Alan Ladd is the regional director for the counties of Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, and East and West Pottawattamie.

Alan has served as the southwest area extension director for ISU and previously held positions with Kansas State University Research and Extension as county extension director and county 4-H agent in Finney, Brown and Riley counties.

Ladd has been appointed to two terms on the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Board for the southwest hub. He has also served on several committees and task forces throughout his extension career and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

He earned his bachelor’s in animal science and industry, a master’s in adult and occupational education, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction all from Kansas State University. Ladd was raised on a diversified family farm near Chanute in southeast Kansas.

 

Region 18 – Brooke Blessington

Brooke serves the counties of Cass, Adair, Adams, Union, Clarke, Taylor, Ringgold, and Decatur effective. As regional director she will provide leadership to county extension councils and oversee delivery of regional educational programs that align with needs of the region.

Brooke grew up on a family farm in Iowa and holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Her master’s degree is in agronomy specializing in plant breeding and genetics. Her master’s work is developing resistance management strategies for weed control. After graduation, she worked in crop genetics research and development at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, Iowa.

In 2016, she began her career with ISU Extension and Outreach as Madison County’s executive director. In the summer of 2018, she was one of 40 graduate students worldwide selected to participate in the Borlaug Summer Institute at the Purdue Center for Global Food Security under the direction of Dr. Gebisa Ejeta.

 

Region 19 – Sue Henderson

Sue Henderson embodies the spirit of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the land-grant mission to extend the resources of the university to the people. Programming is at the heart of all that Sue has accomplished in her 23 years with extension and continues to be the focus as she applies her resourceful, energetic approach to do her part for a Strong Iowa. Where there is a need, she is part of the response. 

As regional director, Sue provides extension programming leadership in eight southeast Iowa counties:  Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Lucas, Monroe, Van Buren, Wapello and Wayne. In this role, she works with the county extension councils and their partners to determine and implement an issue-based approach to deliver ISU Extension and Outreach programs and resources to the citizens of the area.

Sue became a regional director in 2009. Previous to that she was the county extension education director in Monroe and Wapello Counties from 1992 to 2009. She has been recognized for her efforts many times:

  • Iowa State University Extension Program Development Award - 2005
  • Visionary Award - 2000
  • Governor’s Volunteer Award - 1997, 1999
  • Iowa State University New Professional Award - 1995

Healthy people, healthy environments and healthy economies are at the heart of Extension and Outreach. Sue is committed to meeting local needs, improving quality of life and making eastern Iowa a better place to live.

Sue earned both a bachelor’s in animal science and a master’s in agriculture from Iowa State University.

 

Region 20 – Janet Smith

Janet Smith serves the counties of Louisa, Henry, Des Moines and Lee in southeast Iowa.

For nearly 30 years Smith has delivered research-based educational programs that have impacted the lives of youth, families, communities and businesses in southeast Iowa. As a proactive leader, she has provided leadership for county, regional and statewide programming. She is well known for building positive relationships with funders and stakeholders.

Smith currently serves as a human sciences family life specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach. From 2009 until 2012, she served as a program specialist in 4-H and Youth Development. Prior to that, she served as the county education director from 1991-2009 with ISU Extension and Outreach in Henry County. She began her career in 1987 as an ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H and youth leader in Lee and Henry Counties.

Professionally she is a member of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Since 1999, she has served on the executive board for Healthy Communities. She is presently serving on the Southeast Iowa Early Childhood Summit planning committee and is a speaker for the event.

Smith received her Bachelor of Science degree in family and consumer science education from Iowa State University and her Master of Arts degree in higher education planning, policy and leadership studies from the University of Iowa.