UACES Facebook iLead Kicks Off First Internal Leadership Class
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iLead Kicks Off First Internal Leadership Class

by Lisa Davis - July 20, 2021

Following its theme of One Division, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture recently launched a new internal leadership program pulling from its research, public outreach and education branches across the state.

The first class of iLead, or Internal Leadership Education And Development, includes professors, researchers, county agents and support staff from Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service offices across Arkansas. 

The iLEAD program aims to support and deepen the development of the leadership talent pool within UADA. Employees selected to participate in the first cohort include:

  • Jamie Baum, Associate Professor, Food Science
  • Rachel Bearden, County Extension Agent - Staff Chair, Hot Spring County
  • Leigh Ann Bullington, County Extension Agent - Staff Chair, Woodruff County
  • Amy Cole, Digital Media Program Manager, Information Technology
  • Sarah David, SNAP-Ed Finance Manager/Program Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Cosmo Denger, Project/Program Manager, Information Technology
  • Eric De Vries, 4-H Arkansas Outdoor School Program Coordinator, Arkansas 4-H Center
  • Kristen Gibson, Associate Professor, Food Science
  • Fiona Goggin, Professor, Entomology & Plant Pathology
  • Mary Beth Groce, County Extension Agent - Family Consumer Science, Faulkner County
  • Kristin Higgins, Program Associate, Public Policy Center in the Community, Professional, and Economic Development Unit
  • Chelsey Kimbrough, Associate Professor & Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist, Animal Science
  • Chris Meux, Design Specialist, Communications
  • Keith Perkins, County Extension Agent - Staff Chair, Lonoke County
  • Laura Anne Warren, County Extension Agent – SNAP-Ed., Pulaski County

Through the iLEAD program, participants will identify and address real-world challenges facing the organization.

“The iLEAD program will foster a trusting, collaborative learning environment for the support of leadership skill development,” said Julie Robinson, associate professor and iLEAD program director. “The team approach will support the discovery of diverse perspectives, providing participants with a peer support network as well.”

iLEAD instructional goals and targeted outcomes include strengthening retention and programmatic efforts, while supporting internal leadership development aligned with the land-grant mission.

The iLEAD program will provide leadership development through training, hands-on experiences, and personal reflection to expand leadership capacity within the Division of Agriculture. The program is a developmental experience exploring critical and emerging issues to help UADA employees become effective leaders by improving their interpersonal skills, knowledge of the organization, communication skills, relationship building, program planning and development, leadership, and resource development skills.

The program is structured into six each of face-to-face seminars and virtual sessions plus a leadership service project.

iLead's first virtual session took place July 16, 2021. The agenda included a program overview and:

  • A welcome from Stacey McCullough, the director of the Community, Professional and Economic Development unit
  • A brief history of the Land Grant University System and the Division of Agriculture presented by Mary Hightower, UADA chief communications officer
  • A summary of the the Agricultural Experiment Station by Nick Kordsmeier, AES interim assistant director of communications
  • An overview of the Cooperative Extension Service by Tracy Courage, CES director of communications 

The August 19-20 session will focus on team building. iLead members will participate in team building activities at the 4H Center. For more information about iLEAD contact Robinson at or Lisa Davis at