CSU Office of Engagement & Extension Leadership
Dr. Blake Naughton | Vice President for Engagement and Extension
Blake Naughton serves as vice president for engagement and extension at Colorado State University beginning in December 2019 after having served for three years as associate vice chancellor for extension and engagement at the University of Missouri. Dr. Naughton is recognized for his expertise in education and administrative leadership, partnership development and performance management in higher education. Throughout his professional career, he has focused on demonstrating that higher education can transform lives by showing in measurable, relevant, and actionable ways how universities can best serve citizens and communities.
At CSU engagement and extension, Dr. Naughton oversees several units including the Colorado Water Center, the Salazar Center, CSU Extension, and CSU Extended Campus which provide science-based community outreach programming that extends the services of the University across Colorado and beyond and seeks to help fulfill Colorado State University’s land-grant mission. He also serves as professor of human development focusing on how individuals, organizations, and communities benefit from lifelong educational programs and services, and as a member of the City of Fort Collins Economic Advisory Board.
A native of Hannibal, Mo., Dr. Naughton holds a PhD from Stanford University in education administration and policy; an EdM from Harvard University in administration, planning and social policy; and a BS from Stanford in science and technology policy.
Dr. Lindsey Shirley | Assistant Vice President for Engagement and Extension and Deputy Director for CSU Extension
Dr. Lindsey Shirley serves as assistant vice president for engagement and extension and deputy director for CSU Extension. In this position, she serves as a key leader of the Office of Engagement and Extension with a focus on program quality in our content and the overall impact delivered. She also provides day-to-day leadership and operational oversight to implement the extension mission of the university and to advance the strategic goals of the Office. Dr. Shirley holds an appointment as professor with tenure in the department of design and merchandising.
Before joining CSU in July 2021, Dr. Shirley’s focus was on the intersection of the needs of Oregonians and the programs convened by the OSU Extension Service and Division of Extension and Engagement at Oregon State University. Her work as associate provost for extension and engagement led to positive solutions with communities that serve as a framework to explore and uncover new possibilities. Dr. Shirley’s portfolio of work includes innovations in teaching and learning implemented into secondary, post-secondary, and extension learning environments across the United States and international locations.
Since earning degrees from Iowa State University (PhD, BS) and the University of Minnesota (MEd), Dr. Shirley has had a long commitment to expanding access to the land-grant university system’s learning, discovery, engagement and extension.
Dr. Chris LaBelle | Assistant Vice President for Engagement and Extension, Executive Director of CSU Extended Campus
Dr. Chris LaBelle joined the Colorado State University Online team in August 2019. In his current role, he leads CSU Online, Professional Education, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Collaboration Campuses. Chris brings over twenty years of experience in online learning and professional development to the team. He holds an Ed.D. from Boise State and MA from UCLA.
Jennifer Gimbel | Interim Director, Colorado Water Center
Jennifer Gimbel currently serves as the interim director of the Colorado Water Center. She joined CSU as a senior water policy scholar focused on Colorado River issues and curriculum development. Jennifer was the principal deputy assistant secretary for water and science for the U.S. Department of Interior from 2014 to 2016, and also served as director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board from 2008 to 2013.
She has a bachelor of science and Juris Doctorate from the University of Wyoming and a master of science from the University of Delaware, and has authored numerous articles and presentations on state and federal water law.
Beth Conover | Executive Director, Salazar Center for North American Conservation
Beth Conover has spent her entire career working at the intersection of environmental policy and community development. She comes to the Salazar Center from the Gates Family Foundation, where she worked for 8 years, most recently as Senior Vice President for Natural Resources and Community Development. Prior, she worked on community conservation program development in diverse places including Providence, Rhode Island; Zimbabwe, Southern Africa; and the Colorado Plateau.
Born in Denver, she was Director of Parks and Environment for the redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport and a senior advisor and founder of Greenprint Denver for Mayor John Hickenlooper. She is the editor and co-author of How the West was Warmed: Climate Change in the Rocky Mountain West, a collection of essays published by Fulcrum Press in 2010.
Faculty and Campus Key Contacts
Geniphyr Ponce-Pore | Engagement Program Manager
Geniphyr Ponce-Pore, M.S., M.Ed., serves as the program manager for engagement for the Office of Engagement and Extension. In this role, she provides support for the Provost’s Council for Engagement and supports strategic initiatives and projects that advance engagement across the university, including professional development, campus-wide events, and industry and community partnerships.
Patti Schmitt | Director, Community Development
Patti Schmitt serves as the community development director for the Office of Engagement and Extension, working closely with Colorado communities to address complex social, health, economic and safety challenges. Additionally, she is the director of a unique leadership program called the Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) of Colorado at CSU Extension. FLTI is a unique leadership program that targets community members traditionally underserved and focuses on bridging the gap between decision makers and community members so that communities can better learn, plan and act together.
Dawn Thilmany | Director of Engaged Scholarship
Dr. Dawn Thilmany, Associate Department Head and Professor in the Department of Agriculture & Resource Economics, holds a half-time joint appointment with the Office of Engagement and Extension. In this role she collaborates with Community & Economic Development and with the Director of the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI) to advance CSU initiatives in community and economic development. She is an Extension Economist Specialist, and is working in partnership with multiple CSU divisions to develop onboarding and best practices for new scholars, staff and students for applying their field expertise into engaged research opportunities.
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