The ACEAmbassadors would like to introduce the “New Faces of ACE” to shine a welcoming spotlight on our new members. 

  • Home
  • Ambassadors The Faces of ACE

Graham Binder is the senior director of communications at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland.

I've been a member of ACE on and off for eight years.

1.     Why was ACE the choice for you?
I've always admired the organization and felt it was the right time for me to rejoin as UMD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is really ramping up awareness of our Extension programming across a number of huge initiatives, including opioid use prevention, digital literacy, and navigation and nutrient management. I want to be able to connect with like-minded individuals to access best practices across a wide scope of communication outreach and strategy.
2.     What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member?
I thought the Level Up virtual conference was a great experience.
3.     What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership?
I'm mostly here to increase my network of communicators across the country, learn from their big brains, and enhance my professional development.

Hello! I’m Carissa Nelson and I am the media communications manager for Illinois 4-H with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I’ve been a member for just a few months and I’m excited to attend my first conference in June! 

I am a central Illinois native, and I hold a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences from Illinois State University. I have spent the past several years pursuing digital marketing certifications from Google, Facebook, Hootsuite and more. In addition to my full-time role with 4-H, I have held an adjunct faculty position teaching social media management for undergraduate students for the past few years. My favorite thing about working in communications is creating valuable connections between people and information. 

1.     Why was ACE the choice for you?
I really liked that ACE didn’t just give you one way to learn and connect, it gave you so many! There were so many choices and options, and that was perfect for me just starting out and trying to find the right fit.
2.     What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member?
I’ve truly just started and am finding my way, but this group has been so incredibly welcoming, and I’ve found so much value in everything I’ve attended. I’m excited to see what’s to come!
3.     What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership?

I’m excited for connections! I’m the only one who does my specific role in my office and I’m an external processor, so sometimes I just want someone to bounce an idea off or to hear from someone with experience in an area I’m interested in. I know I can find that in ACE!

I’m Rebecca Miller and I am the photojournalist for Fort Valley State University in Georgia. I have been a member for less than a year and look forward to all that ACE has to offer!

1.     Why was ACE the choice for you?
Honestly, ACE was “subtly” recommended to me from day one of my job here at Fort Valley since both Latasha and ChaNae’ work with me here in communications. However, I also was excited to join to expand my reach in communications and networking, as well as learn the ropes as I am new to the world of Extension.
2.     What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member?
Well, it hasn’t been a year yet, as I’ve only been in my position a total of about six months, but definitely being able to take part in the community and also in some of the planning as well. I am grateful for every opportunity that has been given to me because of not only my job but because of the people who have become a part of my life because of it, and that includes many of the people in ACE. I look forward to continuing to grow my experiences in this group.
3.     What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership?
There is definitely a trend in my answers by now, but I hope to continue to grow my knowledge of communications, Extension and anything else ACE can offer. Expanding my “bubble” has always been a big focus of mine, and this is a large opportunity to do so in a community with a lot of the same views and common interests as well.

Hi, I’m Max Esterhuizen, the assistant director of communications and marketing for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. I’ve been a member of ACE for a little more than a year! 

1. Why was ACE the choice for you?

ACE was a choice for me for a few reasons. Learning from peers at other institutions is immensely valuable – we can see what works, what doesn’t and importantly try to learn from each other. Networking and knowing that we have colleagues around the country that genuinely want each other to succeed is motivating. Seeing each other each year, especially post-pandemic, is something to look forward to.

2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member?

Last year’s conference in Asheville was the most enjoyable experience for me. I found the sessions to be helpful and a fair amount of them lined up with items we were in the process of launching ourselves. Plus, Asheville is also a fun and vibrant city that isn’t so different from Blacksburg, Virginia (where Virginia Tech is located).

3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership?

I hope to gain continued collaborations and partnerships with other institutions so we can drive each other forward.

Julie is the Extension News Strategist at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Julie and her husband and live in Jefferson City, Mo. and have three children, a baby granddaughter and two kitties.

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you? I’m a long-time radio broadcaster who made the move to the University of Missouri in early 2022. After decades “on the air” – the last 15 on a national radio agriculture network– I made the switch to help MU Extension Ag & Environment specialists tell THEIR stories of educating Missouri ag producers. I’m on a dynamic team of communicators with the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR). My official title is CAFNR Extension News Strategist.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member? I joined ACE after seeing all the learning opportunities and the chance to network with cohorts in other states! I enjoyed this year’s conference in Asheville, even while going through vertigo (the Biltmore tour was challenging)!
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership? I would like to hone my skills through ACE and get ideas on connecting specialists with media.

Greetings, fellow ACE members! I fill my days as the media and communications coordinator at the Langston University Sherman Lewis School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. No two days are ever the same. I bet you can relate! I enjoy my work and being productive while servicing research, academics and Extension. I’m an ACE newbie, and I just recently joined this past summer with the institutional membership. I’m excited to share this membership with others joining my LU SL/SAAS Communications team soon.

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you? I was attracted to the positivity, networking and learning opportunities that the ACE membership can provide in keeping one current with the ever-evolving updates in communications. It’s amazing to have a support group for your neck of the woods.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member? My most enjoyable experience has been the connectivity to other professional individuals in the field of communications who are striving to serve and honor their programs' similar missions, visions and values that support diverse communities. The networking opportunities are invaluable!
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership? I look forward to gaining various skills that will boost my daily work goals. If I haven’t met you in person yet, I look forward to meeting you at an ACE conference coming soon.

Hi there! My name is Hope Miller, and I am the communications specialist for the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) dean for research. December will mark both a year in my position and as an ACE member. My passion for community-based science communication stems from my master’s research exploring peer-to-peer learning and communication theory.

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you?ACE was the obvious choice for me because of its reputation of being a well-established and welcoming group of communication researchers and practitioners.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member?My favorite ACE experience, so far, was the comradery at the conference in Asheville. It was especially great to interact with professionals from other land-grant institutions.
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership?As a fledgling communicator, I am looking forward to ACE helping me establish a lifelong personal and professional network.

My name is Jens-Kristian Kiel, and I joined ACE this August. In a career spanning three decades and counting, I've shaped the world of advertising, marketing and information technology on two continents with my contributions. Like Steve Jobs said, my goal is "to put a dent in the world." In Europe, I helped brand two world-leading trade shows and served companies like the ThyssenKrupp AG, Swiss Ruck Insurance and many more. In the United States, I implemented global and national brands in local markets, created train-the-trainer programs and single-handedly raised the revenue of an independent elevator company by 80% in only 18 months. I decided to give back to my adopted home state and joined West Virginia State University as the freshly minted director of agricultural research and Extension communications to create value instead of revenue. I follow in the footsteps of esteemed ACE members Matt Browning and Stacy Herrick.

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you? Joining ACE was recommended to me on day one. As a past member of the American Advertising Federation, I keenly understand that membership in a professional association may advance your career, build your personal and professional connections, and provide opportunities to celebrate the ever-changing, unique profession in which we work.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member? My most enjoyable experience was getting to know, interact with and learn from ACE members like Latasha Ford, Elizabeth Gregory North, Max Esterhuizen and others at the Southern Region Program Leadership Network (SR-PLN) meeting in Orlando, Florida. Having just worked weeks in public service, I appreciate that they helped me explore communication methods to reach the constituents of the 1890 land-grant institution I joined.
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership? I plan to learn more as I interact with my ACE peers, immerse myself in the learning communities, attend conferences, and share my knowledge and experience with those eager to see the world through somebody else's eyes as I bring a different perspective to the table – having grown up a world away, worked in an ever-changing profession with a multitude of tools and technologies, and being naturally curious and receptive to new experiences, new methods and new people.

Erin is the Director of Extension Publishing at the University of Idaho, and also a 2013 graduate of that institution!

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you? I wanted to build my network of other professionals in the ag communications field. My position is a one-of-a-kind position at our university, and I wanted to find other individuals in the field to learn from and share ideas with.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member? Getting to connect with other members from schools across the PNW. I’ve enjoyed participating in the community groups, sharing ideas and learning from others.
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership? You’ll notice a theme here, but what I hope to get is the same as why I joined and my most enjoyable experience: community. One of my personal values is the constant pursuit of excellence. I truly believe an important aspect of that is being a part of a community. As they say, “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

Jenn is the Communications Manager at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Extension. The photo above is a selfie taken at Castner Ice Glacier, near Delta Junction Alaska. The ice cave is behind her. You can explore it on your own (or add it to your bucket list); learn more here:

  1. Why was ACE the choice for you? I learned about ACE from colleagues when I first began my work with UAF Extension. It seemed a great way to connect with others who are doing the same work as I am and a place to learn more about strategies and standards. I wasn't new to the field of communications, but I am new to extension and there is definitely a lot to learn! ACE has helped me understand how other extensions work around the country, and where I can get help if I need it.
  2. What has been your most enjoyable experience over the last year as a member? I attended the conference this past summer. It was great meeting other professionals, and I got a lot of great ideas and inspiration from the talks and the meetings. I loved seeing the work that is being done around the country at the awards ceremony.
  3. What are you hoping to get out of your ACE membership? I'm looking forward to growing more connections with others and I love knowing I have a place to turn when I am wondering how other folks are doing things. My team members like that they can also build community with their national colleagues.

©2023 Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences

ACE Office: 847-647-8861

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software