Turner named director of Cornell Cooperative Extension

Andrew Turner ’88, M.P.S. ’93, has been appointed director of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the College of Human Ecology (CHE).

Currently director of CCE’s New York State 4-H program, Turner will begin a five-year term on Dec. 1, 2023, taking the reins from Jenny Kao-Kniffin, a CALS associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section who has been serving as interim director.

Andrew Turner

The Oct. 24 announcement was made by Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, and Rachel Dunifon, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of CHE.

“I am very excited for Andy’s leadership and his diverse experience in CCE, from rural to urban and across the entire system,” Houlton said. “He is highly knowledgeable and collaborative, epitomizing CALS’ core values. Under Andy’s leadership, I am confident that Cornell and CCE will continue to meet the needs of the agricultural community, with new innovations, translational research outcomes and co-created education programs.”

As director, Turner will oversee development and deployment of a diverse portfolio and programs for CCE, which maintains a presence in every county in New York including the five boroughs of New York City. This portfolio includes food systems, natural resources, sustainable energy, 4-H youth development, nutrition, parent education and economic development work. He will also oversee the CCE administrative staff and program leaders at Cornell, reporting directly to the CALS and CHE deans.

“With a career spanning almost every level of CCE, Andy brings great expertise and vision to this role,” Dunifon said. “His experience positions him well to capitalize on synergies while breaking down barriers, moving the system forward in innovative and collaborative ways. I am looking forward to working with Andy to improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”

A third-generation extension professional, Turner has led NYS 4-H since 2014, providing program leadership, professional development and support for one of the largest and most diverse 4-H programs in the nation. Prior to that, he spent two years as CCE assistant director for field operations and communications.

In his role with NYS 4-H, Turner has been a statewide and national leader in the design and application of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. From 2020-22 he served as the co-chair of the National 4-H Equity Design Team, a strategic planning process designed to build the institutional will and strategy to achieve a 4-H membership, volunteer and staff profile that reflects the broad diversity of the U.S. population. In 2016 he collaborated with CCE Diversity Specialist Eduardo Gonzalez Jr. to design and initiate the NYS 4-H Justice, Equity and Diversity cohort, a two-year professional development experience that has reached more than 50 CCE educators.

Before joining CCE senior leadership, Turner spent nearly 10 years as a 4-H educator and an environmental issues program leader with CCE Rockland County and went on to serve 14 years as the executive director in Greene and Columbia counties. As executive director, Turner helped launch CCE’s Eastern New York Horticulture Program and its Capital Region Agriculture team. He also was instrumental in developing the CCE Greene Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra, New York.

Turner earned a B.S. and M.P.S. from CALS and a doctorate in executive leadership (Ed.D.) from St. John Fisher College. There, his doctoral dissertation explored disruptive innovation in cooperative extension, identifying the characteristics and attributes of extension leaders who were able to create and sustain high-impact, innovative programming efforts.

“I am incredibly fortunate to provide leadership for CCE at such an important time for the communities of New York state,” Turner said. “CCE’s mission of bringing research-based knowledge together with local wisdom and experience has never been more critical as we address climate change, build community resiliency, support positive youth development and rebuild the civic ties that bind our communities together.”

R.J. Anderson is communications team leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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Kaitlyn Serrao