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Rural Communities and Development Extension Specialists

Our Extension Specialists are experts in their field. Their specialty areas range from policy, agricultural business, farm management, to rural communities and development. Below is a listing of the Agricultural Economics Extension Specialists in Rural Communities and Development.



Roberto Gallardo

Roberto Gallardo

Community development, economic development, digital inclusion

Roberto enjoys working with regions and communities around community and economic development issues. He has conducted a variety of workshops and presentations around industrial clusters, rural and socioeconomic trends, the digital age, digital literacy, broadband planning, and other topics. He has recently engaged communities and regions in comprehensive digital inclusion planning. He conducts research in topics relevant to 21st century community and economic development. Roberto's programs can be found at the Digital Inclusion Website:

  • Digital Ready Businesses: Curriculum helps employees, entrepreneurs, and small business owners understand the basic components of an online presence.
  • Digital Ready Community: Builds capacity and empowers communities by identifying and mobilizing digital assets to increase communication, responsiveness, trust and civic engagement.
  • iFront Door: program for communities, regions, or organizations interested in assessing and proactively managing their online reputation.
Maria Marshall

Maria Marshall

Family Business, Small Business, Disaster Recovery, Rural Development

Maria Marshall is the Jim and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics, Director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, and Director of the Purdue Institute for Family Business. Marshall has a nationally and internationally recognized integrated Extension, research, and teaching program focused on small and family business development. Her program thrust is to increase the viability and sustainability of small and family businesses as they develop and mature through their life cycles. Her research provides relevant information and publications to entrepreneurs, family business owners, and policy makers. Marshall’s scholarly leadership in small business research is sought out by policy centers and organizations nationwide.


Brigitte Waldorf

Brigitte Waldorf

Population, Rural Communities

In her research, Brigitte Waldorf combines a topical interest in population, urban and transportation issues with a methodological interest in spatial and quantitative analysis. Among her research topics are immigration, regional demographic change due to migration and fertility, the growth of a knowledge-based workforce, the urban-rural interface, and access to health care.




Renee Wiatt

Renee Wiatt

Family business, family business functionality, disaster recovery

Renee Wiatt is the family business management specialist for the Purdue Institute for Family Business where she serves as editor for the PIFB quarterly newsletter. She is the co-chair for the Purdue Extension Succession Planning Team and the Department representative for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialist Association (PUCESA). Renee is also a member of the NC1030 Multi-State Research group that focuses on sustainable families, firms and communities in times of change. She focuses on Extension and research in farm and family businesses. Visit the PIFB website to subscribe to PIFB updates, read the latest PIFB Quarterly Newsletter and answer the PIFB Question of the Month.

Michael D. Wilcox. Jr.

Michael D. Wilcox. Jr.

Community Development and Regional Economics

Michael Wilcox is Purdue Extension’s Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development and Associate Director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD). Wilcox is also a Community and Regional Economics Specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics. As Assistant Director and Specialist, Michael furthers the mission of Purdue Extension by fostering innovative, high impact Extension programs. Specifically, Michael provides motivation, strategy, vision, and coordination for the development and delivery of Community Development Extension programs that address the diverse needs in Indiana communities and beyond.

Michael’s Extension and research work integrates the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability into addressing community and regional economic issues, with a focus on entrepreneurship, placemaking, and community capacity building. Michael’s Extension Signature Programs include Business Retention and Expansion, Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, and Creating Healthy Communities. Michael has been involved in research and Extension projects centered on the marketing of tropical tree crops in western Africa and Latin America and conservation agriculture in southern Africa.


Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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