Perspectives Online

College Profile. Cheryl Lloyd, Extension’s first state leader for urban programs, will rely on inreach and outreach to get the job done. By Dee Shore

Photo by Becky Kirkland

Growing up in rural Granville County, Cheryl LeMay Lloyd noticed that many of life's finest things - good meals, quilts and new barns, for example - were the product of people coming together, sharing and helping each other.

Today, as North Carolina Cooperative Extension's state leader for urban programs, her goal is to begin assembling groups of people who can work together to create the finest solutions for urban communities and the people who live in them.

It's a new position, one shared jointly by Cooperative Extension and N.C. State University's Office of Extension, Engagement and Economic Development.

Cooperative Extension has a long history of bringing the university's expertise and resources to bear in rural communities, and administrators hope to tap more deeply into its potential for being a partner for positive change in the state's urban areas.

Lloyd sees her role as helping to build a national model for partnerships that strengthen communities.
Photo Becky Kirkland
As Dr. Jon Ort, the university's associate vice chancellor for Extension and Cooperative Extension's director, puts it, "It is N.C. State University's hope that through Cheryl's efforts and collectively through the united efforts of all of our programs, we can become more thoroughly engaged and have even greater impacts in urban areas in the future."

Lloyd sees her task as twofold, "inreach," she says, "and outreach."

To begin the "inreach," Vice Chancellor Jim Zuiches hosted a series of lunchtime meetings so that university faculty, staff and administrators could learn more about the knowledge base and resources that exist across the university and within Cooperative Extension.

The second component, outreach, calls for the university to build on strategic partnerships it has with counties and new relationships with other organizations.

"The issues North Carolina faces require expertise from many disciplines and the diverse experiences of the state's residents. However, the challenge often is bringing those individuals together at the table," Lloyd says. "Convening and facilitating change is one of the unique attributes of Cooperative Extension professionals. We take the skill for granted, but it's really our greatest strength and will allow to contribute extensively in urban areas faced with multifaceted issues."

Partnership building is a skill that Lloyd has honed over a 28-year career with Extension, itself an educational partnership among county, state and federal governments and the state's two land-grant institutions, N.C. State and N.C. A&T State universities.

Lloyd credits her grandparents and parents for her commitment to lifelong learning, both for herself and for the people she serves. "They dedicated their lives and their resources to educating their children and the children of neighbors," she says.

There was never any question that Lloyd would attend college, and she enrolled at N.C. A&T dreaming of a career traveling the world as a fashion merchandiser. But a professor thought she'd be wasting her talent if she pursued that dream and switched Lloyd's major to home economics education.

"Her name was Mrs. Bernice Johnson, and she decided I was a student she'd bring under her wings," Lloyd recalls. "She said to me, 'LeMay, you're wasting your parents' money in fashion merchandizing.' And she changed my major to education."

Lloyd's first job in Extension was a 4-H agent position in Gates County. She believed it would be a short-term experience, but she was quickly hooked.

"I found that Gates County was a delightful community to work in, and I learned immediately that adult education was the place I wanted to be," she says.

She went from Gates, one of North Carolina's most rural places, to one of the most urban, Durham County. Along the way, she had the chance to work in several different disciplines. In addition to being a

4-H agent, she served as a family and consumer science agent in the areas of nutrition, financial management and consumer education.

She also served for two years in an experimental multicounty marketing and media relations position. That role called for her to create and carry out public information campaigns and secure grants and contracts to enhance local programs.

From there, she become director of Durham County's Extension Center, supervising a staff of 29 professionals backed by dozens of volunteers reaching more than 4,000 residents every month. In addition to managing the center's $1.6 million annual budget, Lloyd promoted partnerships and pursued new revenue sources to allow Extension to meet the emerging needs of families, communities and businesses.

"Because our urban and rural communities are interdependent, Extension has a unique role. We are in the unique position of being able to see the possibilities."
While offering programs in Extension's traditional areas - agriculture, natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences and 4-H youth development - the center under Lloyd's helm also administered a community transportation initiative, a juvenile crime prevention council and a baby resource center.

With her staff, Lloyd consistently stressed the importance of community partnerships. And she led by example, serving on numerous governmental and private sector task forces and boards. She was, for example, chair of the Partnership for a Healthy Durham and member of the Local Partnership for Children, the Durham Infant Mortality task force and the Durham Steering Committee on Gang Prevention and Intervention.

Throughout her career, Lloyd has made time for continuing education. Since graduating magna cum laude from N.C. A&T in 1979, she earned a master's degree in family and consumer science and adult education at N.C. Central University in 1990, completed public administration and agricultural and extension education courses at N.C. State and is pursuing a doctoral degree in leadership studies from N.C. A&T. She also took part in the intensive National Extension Leadership Development program.

Her former boss, North Central Extension District Director Donald Cobb, says Lloyd has been successful at putting what she's learned about leadership to work. She's known for setting high standards and using innovation, collaboration and creativity to achieve results.

"She's able to see a big picture, and she knows how to make it come to life," Cobb says.

Her success has earned Lloyd numerous awards, including the National Association of Counties' Achievement Award, the state County Extension Director of the Year Award in 2001 and the 2006 Southern Region Visionary Leadership Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi, a national Extension professional development society. "But none of these awards is as cherished as the honor of being the parent of Kelly Denise and Kevin Lloyd Jr.," she says.

In her new position as state urban programs leader, Lloyd believes that N.C. State is compelled by its mission to make as strong an impact in the state's towns and cities as it has historically made in its rural communities. The university affirmed that service mission recently when it became part of the 22-member Coalition of Urban-Serving Universities.

Lloyd sees her role as helping build a national model in North Carolina for partnerships that strengthen communities and people. With Cobb's support, North Carolina's urban county Extension directors have been meeting regularly to learn from each other, and Lloyd's new position gives her the opportunity to build on their momentum.

The pilot Gateway County initiative has been important, too, for helping the University and Extension explore ways to address high-priority issues beyond Extension's core expertise by involving faculty and staff partners outside of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

In looking ahead, Lloyd sees potential for future partnerships between Extension and the university's College of Design, for example, in helping urban areas maintain a high quality of life amid growth; and between Extension and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Education in helping communities do a better job of supporting at-risk children and families.

"Our state is changing rapidly. We are a state with strong agricultural roots, and that won't change, but since the 1980s the majority of our citizens have lived in cities. The well-being of our rural communities is important to the well-being of our urban communities, and the opposite is true, too," she says. "And because our urban and rural communities are interdependent, Extension has a unique role. We are in the unique position of being able to see the possibilities."

Creativity and innovation are key. "It is how we encourage extension and university faculty and staff to think more collaboratively about how we can serve the state," she says.

Lloyd is taking a long-term approach, hoping to build the kind of partnerships that can bring about lasting and deep impact not just for cities and towns but for all of North Carolina.

It's a formula that has worked for Extension for decades, and one that Lloyd says she's been fortunate to see play out in her career. She points to a personal experience, recalling a visit to the emergency room when she found that the nurse in charge was the child of a mother who had participated in one of Lloyd's financial management programs.

"She told me the story of how the family had moved into better housing and how her mother decided to take steps to make sure her children were well-educated because of her experience with the Cooperative Extension Service," Lloyd says. "This was a time when I got to see the long-term impact of the work we do. We may not see it every day, but communities feel it.

"And I'm proud to be part of that."