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A collage of pictures of the new ADFOs.

At the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), we are committed to serving Alabama communities to grow a better state and world. To build upon this commitment, we are excited to announce the creation of seven new positions that will work to improve Extension’s education and outreach efforts on a regional level. These new positions–known as assistant directors for field operations (ADFO)–will provide day-to-day leadership for Extension field operations within the seven regions known as strategic Extension teams (SETs). They will also provide administrative and programmatic support to all professional Extension personnel assigned within the SETs.

New Structure, Same Extension

Under our current structure, there are two individuals that serve as assistant directors for county operations, and they oversee operations in Alabama’s 67 county offices. Within this new structure, these two employees have been reclassified and five additional employees have been hired to fill the newly created ADFO positions. Starting October 1, each ADFO will be assigned to one of the seven SETs in Alabama. This action fills a gap in our current organizational structure and better aligns Alabama Extension with management structures found in other Extension systems throughout the region and country. With the addition of these ADFOs, we expect to see the level of engagement improve between county Extension coordinators (CEC), regional Extension agents (REA), and supervisors, which leads to better service for Alabama residents.

ADFO SET Map October 2023ADFOs by SET

  • Amelia Mitchell, Northwest SET
    • Serving Colbert, Fayette, Franklin, Marion, Morgan, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Walker, and Winston counties
  • Chris Becker, Northeast SET
    • Serving Blount, Cherokee, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Madison, and Marshall counties
  • Sharon Haynes, West Central SET
    • Serving Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, and Wilcox counties
  • Lee Ann Clark, Central SET
    • Serving Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Elmore, Jefferson, Lowndes, Montgomery, Shelby, and St. Clair counties
  • Callie Nelson, East Central SET
    • Serving Calhoun, Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Lee, Macon, Randolph, Russell, Talladega, and Tallapoosa counties
  • Beau Brodbeck, Southwest SET
    • Serving Baldwin, Butler, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington counties
  • Allie Logan – Southeast SET
    • Serving Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike counties

Amelia MitchellMeet Amelia Mitchell

Hello! I am Amelia Mitchell, and I am excited to start my new role as the ADFO for northwest Alabama. While I am new to this role, my time with ACES goes back to 2005. In my previous role as assistant director for county office operations, I had the opportunity to work with CECs across the state to provide a broader level of support for them in their roles. However, in this new role, it will allow me an opportunity to engage and support both CECs and REAs in a more involved manner.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? One of the first things I will do is plan a meeting with each of the team members to get to know them better, both individually and in their roles. Doing this will help me to have a better understanding of what the strengths, needs, and/or opportunities are that exist within the Northwest SET.

What is the best thing about ACES? The people we work with and the people we serve are hands-down the best thing about working for Extension. I get the opportunity to come to work for an organization whose mission consists of the greater good of others. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, I had the opportunity to join other ACES staff members–as well as other Extension colleagues from along the Gulf Coast–on a fact-finding trip to Alaska to learn about the impacts of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. It was both interesting and sad to learn of the lasting impacts this event had on those communities to this very day.

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I am a very much a family-oriented person. I value people and relationships and enjoy taking trips and spending time with friends and family when I’m away from work. I also love to dance–but I am the absolute worst at it. I won’t let that stop me, though!

Chris BeckerMeet Chris Becker

Hello from north Alabama! I am Chris Becker, and I will be the ADFO for northeast Alabama. I began my career with Extension in December 2008 as a home grounds, gardens, and home pests REA and later became the CEC for Limestone County. As I step into this new role, I am excited to have the opportunity to develop my leadership skills, and I look forward to the new challenges I will face.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? In this new role, I believe it will be imperative to develop relationships with each county office in the SET, including the CEC, agents, agent assistants, and admins. I want to make sure that they know I am an additional resource for them and that I truly want to help. I want to know the needs and concerns of each person in the SET. What are we lacking for you to be successful? I will be successful in this role if those in the Northeast SET are successful. That is my number one interest: what can I do to help motivate others and facilitate success throughout the Northeast SET? I will be spending a considerable amount of time in each office, speaking with the staff, attending programs, meeting with stakeholders, and stakeholder groups.

What is the best thing about ACES? What keeps me motivated, keeps me excited each day to go to work for ACES is we have the opportunity every day to make a difference. Whether it is inspiring youth to reach farther than they thought they could, or helping a farmer with a situation that could lead to yield/crop/economic loss, or helping a struggling non-profit through a strategic plan, educating youth/adults on the dangers of vaping. We change lives, every day!

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? In 2011, I was very fortunate to attend an eleven-day trip to Brazil, where we visited many different cities. We visited Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Iguacu, Londrina, Parana, and others. We visited poultry and beef-cattle operations, fisheries, horticulture operations, and immersed ourselves in the Brazilian culture. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, one that I won’t soon forget. We even had a near death experience!

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? My brother-in-law is former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s great grandson. Long story, but true!

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I enjoy going to the gym, running, jiu jitsu, shooting/archery, and spending time with family.

Sharon HaynesMeet Sharon Haynes

Hello, I am Sharon Haynes! I have been a part of ACES since 2007, and I am proud to have the opportunity to serve as the ADFO in west-central Alabama. I am excited to collaborate with CECs and REAs to identify and expand our regional capacity. Working with coordinators and agents I haven’t worked with before is an opportunity to learn and grow. This is an excellent chance to build new partnerships, strengthen existing collaboration, and pave the way for a successful Extension program.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? I want to meet with other ADFOs, as well as associate and assistant directors, regarding county needs, so that we can begin roundtable listening and discussion sessions with CECs and REAs. I will also conduct county site visits to establish rapport with county staff and seek new ideas and suggestions on how each county office can improve. As time progresses, I would like to implement the CTEC (Coming Together for Engagement and Collaboration) quarterly meetings to generate ideas on how Extension can market its educational programs for cooperation and support from users and nonusers of Extension programs.

What is the best thing about ACES? One of the greatest benefits of ACES is the chance to establish partnerships and work with other organizations and entities to create educational programs, training, and services that will empower the people of Alabama to lead productive lives.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? I had the chance to visit Fairhope, Alabama, a delightful, small town that boasts beautiful flowers, quaint shops, and art galleries. A beautiful focal point for all visitors is the floral clock. I was impressed with the delicious food, entertainment, and the chance to take a ferry ride across Mobile Bay to visit the neighboring city of Dauphin Island. It was a charming and relaxing ambiance.

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I love to go roller-skating.

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I like to collect pottery, construct puzzles, tour historic homes, and visit museums.

Lee Ann ClarkMeet Lee Ann Clark

Hello! I am Lee Ann Clark, and I can’t wait to get started as the ADFO for central Alabama. My time with ACES started in 1998, but this new role will be a whole new experience. I am looking forward to being able to interact more with my team and learn how I can best support them in their roles.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? My top priority is to bring together the central region team and solicit their thoughts and ideas about how I, as ADFO, can provide the best level of support needed to accomplish the duties of their positions. Being a CEC for the past 18 years and an REA before that, I know first-hand just how challenging these roles can be. My goal is to work with them to help them find the best ways to perform their duties while maintaining a good work-life balance. After that, I will meet with the CECs individually to learn more about their county and how the staff operates to meet the needs of their residents.

What is the best thing about ACES? Being part of an organization that affords me the opportunity to help people, having colleagues who are like family to me, and knowing that every day is different are some of the best things about ACES.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? During a national conference in Florida, I had the chance to visit the Everglades. I was even taken on an airboat ride tour!

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I love architecture, home design, and interior decorating. As a matter of fact, I designed my own house that was built in 2012. The only thing I didn’t like about the home-building process was when it was over! I took pictures of every step along the way.

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I enjoy walking, spending time with friends, real estate investing, traveling, cooking, canning, gardening (especially flowers), and discovering cool restaurants.

Callie NelsonMeet Callie Nelson

Hi there! I am Callie Nelson, and I will be serving ACES as the ADFO for east-central Alabama. My time with Extension includes two different stints. I first worked for the Auburn Extension Service from 1983 to 1987. After a move to California, where my husband was stationed while serving in the US Navy, I started working for Extension once again in 1993. Over that 40-year span, I have now had five different job titles, most recently serving as assistant director for county office operations. What excites me most about my new role is the opportunity to lead, develop, and support CECs and work with all staff to help deliver impactful programs and education to the residents of our state.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? First, I want to get out into the counties and meet with all staff members and let them know that I’m here to support and serve them in their roles. I want to hear about their needs and concerns and how we, the administration staff, can assist them in making great things happen in their counties and support them in their personal career-development goals. Second, I want to begin working to build community among the different program discipline members, both within the county and the region. I would like to hear how everyone can work collaboratively for a greater impact. Third, I will work with the staff to increase the visibility of ACES across the region and position our county offices to offer top-level customer service.

What is the best thing about ACES? The people, both the staff and the people that we serve. Extension is unique in that we serve the entire family. We have the resources and power to improve the quality of life for our residents and transform communities in so many ways. Whether it is assisting a producer in implementing a new farming practice that will help increase crop yield, working with a rural community to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or exposing a young person to a career option, Extension programming, improves lives and transforms communities.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? Niagara Falls, New York was one of the most breathtaking locations. However, Seattle, Washington was unique and so was Corning, New York, because they were celebrating the Day of the Dead during our visit.

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I love home improvement and gardening projects. Whether it is refinishing a piece of furniture, painting and decorating a room, or learning how to install a light fixture, I’m all in for home improvement and gardening projects. I also love to cook and would love to write a cookbook.

Beau BrodbeckMeet Beau Brodbeck

Hello from Alabama’s coast! I am Beau Brodbeck, and I am excited to get to work as the ADFO for southwest Alabama. Over the past couple of years, Extension–like many organizations–has experienced turnover, with many new employees joining the team. Since coming to Extension in 2005, I have enjoyed my career serving Alabama stakeholders to improve their lives, professions, or hobbies. It has not always been easy figuring out how to reach, educate, and develop new, fresh, and innovative educational content. I feel that I have been moderately successful and look forward to working with new Extension personnel and sharing my passion for developing new content and reaching audiences. There are so many opportunities, both tried and true and new and untested. There is nothing like having a stakeholder thank you for improving some aspect of their lives.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? I will be the first to tell you that I have a lot to learn about parts of Extension I have not personally experienced. As a result, I anticipate spending the first few weeks or months getting to know the Southwest SET and the broad diversity of initiatives. I am interested in learning what they do, their success, their challenges, and how I can help them be successful. Serving as a forestry specialist, I know the forestry team, but there are large parts of Extension where I will need help from each team to learn and understand. I ask for patience and understanding as I settle into this new role and transition into a different phase in my career.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? It is no secret that I enjoy traveling and experiencing new places and cultures. During my time with Extension, I have been fortunate to have visited many beautiful locations. Probably my favorite was New Zealand. In 2018, I was invited to teach a half-day drone workshop for an international forestry meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand. The landscape and the people of that country were truly spectacular. It is one of the only places I have visited where you can stand on a beach and see snowcapped mountains and glaciers or explore dense forests of fern trees, thick moss, and wildlife including penguins. New Zealanders, or Kiwis, are fun and easy-going people that welcome visitors and enjoy sharing their country, unique isolated culture, and the best food, meat pies.

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I was born and raised in Guatemala. While my father’s family is from south Alabama, they moved to Guatemala to work in the natural rubber industry. I moved to Alabama to pursue my college degrees, but still visit Guatemala most years, as I call it my first home.

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I am an avid cyclist. Most weekends I spend several hours training for various races or charity cycling events. I have raced mountain bikes in Guatemala and participated in urban forestry cycling fundraising events all over the United States. I enjoy tough challenging events that stretch me both physically and mentally. I am also an avid sailor. I enjoy evening sails on Mobile Bay with my family and friends. Sailing is a mixture of pure joy, relaxation, and occasionally pure terror when the weather turns. I have experienced all, most memorable was the 2015 Dauphin Island Regatta where we survived 90 to 100 miles per hour winds. I also enjoy hiking and camping with my family. My wife and I enjoy getting our children into the outdoors and experiencing nature. There is nothing better than several days of camping with no electronics, no stores for impulse shopping, and only the sound of running water, wildlife, and scenic vistas. We try to go at least once each year, sometimes more.

Allie LoganMeet Meet Allie Logan

Hello, I am Allie Logan! I am looking forward to starting my role as the ADFO for southeast Alabama. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the staff in each county and getting to know them individually. I also look forward to organizing some regional events with stakeholders that will showcase ACES’ strengths.

What are some of the first things you will do in your new role? The first thing I want to do is meet with each county, introduce myself to the staff, and help them with any programming they have going on. I also want to gather their input on expectations they have of me as the ADFO and vice versa. I’d like for the region to have a social type of event where we have some professional development but most important get to know each other.

What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? I went to West Virginia for a Placemaking Conference. It was a very different place than I expected it to be. I knew it was going to be rural, but the mountainous landscape surprised me. I was also surprised to see the windmills on ridges. I’d like to go back and do some more sightseeing. There’s a lot of history there that I’d like to learn about.

What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I started my college career at the University of South Alabama. I wanted to study meteorology and work for The Weather Channel in Atlanta. After one semester, I decided that I did not want to look at computer models all day and work on math problems all the time. So, I transferred to Auburn University to study agriculture communications. Another interesting fact is that I love playing The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo.

What hobbies do you have outside of work? I love photography. I take a lot of family photos and landscape photography. My family loves to hike and camp (not in a camper). It’s a goal of ours to finish hiking all five trails to Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains and climb Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. Eventually, we would like to hike some of the Appalachian Trail.