Alison Davis

Photo of Alison Davis
Award Year

The Southern Rural Development Center is proud to honor Dr. Alison Davis as a 2011 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement Award. Davis is an Extension faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky.

Though she has been employed as an Extension specialist for only six years, Davis has become a major asset to the Kentucky Cooperative Extension System and has produced an impressive array of Extension-related programs and publications. Explaining Davis’ accomplishments, Dr. Lynn Robbins, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics, noted that “She is dedicated to advancing economic development and improving health for our rural communities in Kentucky.”

Davis has played a vital role in several programs since beginning her career with the department and university. Scott Smith, Dean of the UK College of Agriculture noted that “Her programs are used by faculty here on campus, our agents in the field, hospital administrators, city leaders and other professionals around the country.” In summer 2010, Smith selected Davis to be director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative for Kentucky (CEDIK). In just six short months, Davis helped CEDIK be fully operational, and has launched an impressive set of programs that are having positive impacts in the state, Southern region, and nation. These include the launching of the National Issues Forum on economic security, the Stronger Economies Together (SET), and the Turning the Tide on Poverty community circles program both inside and outside the borders of Kentucky.

On behalf of Davis’s involvement with SET, USDA State Director, Thomas Fern, explained, “Dr. Davis wrote the curriculum for several of the modules and plays a vital role in its delivery to each region.” Overall, “her expertise and leadership have been tremendous assets during the implementation of this important initiative for Kentucky,” Fern stated.

Melissa Goodman, Hickman County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, spoke of Dr. Davis’ pursuit of grants for CEDIK: “Dr. Davis spearheaded the grant that allowed interdisciplinary work, region-based outreach and technical assistance.”

Not only does Davis excel within the Extension system, she also extends her reach by teaching a graduate-level class, “Local Economic Development.” The course involves a project in which students prepare a strategic plan for economic development for their selected community. Davis has introduced students to valuable “on the ground” community/economic development experiences, helping equip them with the tools for future engagement in the development process.

As a result of Davis’ expertise and dedication to the programs in which she is involved, Davis has earned a well-respected reputation within the Extension community in Kentucky and across the nation. Considering her many accomplishments to date, and her genuine dedication to improving the well-being of small communities, it is most fitting that Dr. Alison Davis be honored as a Southern Rural Development Center 2011 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement Award.

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