November 19, 2014 | By: Carol Lea Spence

The University of Kentucky Community Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky has grown rapidly since its inception four years ago. The initiative, run out of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, now has six full-time staff members and four graduate students. Its latest addition is Daniel Kahl as associate director.

Kahl came to UK from Kansas State University, where he recently received his doctorate and oversaw a state program that engaged community volunteers in community improvement projects. He also served as liaison with Kansas State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development, which connected researchers and campus expertise with community needs in the state.

“I was really excited about Kentucky and joining another extension network to explore ways to reach out to communities,” Kahl said.

CEDIK director Alison Davis said her group has a good opportunity to grow strategically over the next 10 years, which will benefit the university, the college and Cooperative Extension.

“As the associate director, Dan will provide leadership to enhancing the professional and programmatic development for all of our local Cooperative Extension agents,” she said.

Kahl’s job responsibilities with CEDIK include coordinating new partnerships across the state and attracting new funding to support community development programming. He also will teach in the UK Department of Community and Leadership Development, beginning with a spring semester course, Community Development and Change.

“I’m looking forward to that class, because it examines the theory around what it takes to be able to create and sustain change on a broad community level,” Kahl said. “We’ll be getting out into the Lexington community and visiting some of the community change initiatives that are going on, reflecting on the intended outcome they’re working toward.”

Kahl said CEDIK has had requests to initiate a First Impressions program for interested counties.

“It’s much like a secret shopper program,” he explained. “People who are experienced in community or economic development visit a county or a community to give an outside perspective about what a visitor sees and experiences. That’s probably one of the early projects that we’ll be organizing and launching here soon.”

Davis said, considering how fast the organization has grown, it is good to have Kahl onboard.

“Dan will provide a steadying hand to ensure the programs we pursue align with our long-term goals as an organization,” she said.


Alison Davis, 859-257-7260; Daniel Kahl, 859-257-2542