Mary Leuci

The Connector

212-D Whitten Hall
Columbia, MO 65211


Community development process and education, evaluation and impact, adult education, engagement, participatory planning processes, organizational learning and leadership, international development

Dr. Mary Simon Leuci is the director of engaged scholarship for MU Extension and Engagement. In this capacity, she also directs the Missouri Campus Compact which fosters integration of civic and community engagement work and learning into the curriculum and operations of its diverse network of Missouri colleges and universities.  As an Associate Extension Professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences (College of Food Agriculture and Natural Resources), she is the PI for extension training as part of an international consortium providing technology and modernization training for agriculture in Ghana.  Prior to these roles, she served as the Community Development Program Director for University of Missouri Extension and Assistant Dean for the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and provided state leadership for programming. Earlier, as a state specialist she worked with University of Missouri Extension faculty, communities and organizations on a variety of issues. She was a co-founder of the Community Development Academy, provided action planning training and workshops across Missouri and throughout the U.S. for community and economic development practitioners and community leaders, and served as member of the multi-state team with co-authored a participatory action planning publication entitled Vision to Action: Take Charge Too. She co-authored the national USDA white paper on core competencies for extension community development, served on the National Council for Community Development Extension, and served on the national work group to develop strategic directions for community development extension.

During her career at the University, Mary has actively contributed to teams engaged in the development of community information networks, improvement of rural health care via organization of several statewide satellite teleconferences, and development materials to facilitate community-based leadership development. She has developed and managed several university-based clearinghouses and information centers to provide information and assistance to rural communities, community economic development, and alternative agriculture.

She has provided training to a number of USDA Rural Development colleagues across the country, and taught in the Community Development Institute in Thibodaux, LA, the Heartland Economic Development Course, and the University of Missouri's International Community and Rural Development Institute. Mary's consulting experiences include working with local organizations, utilities, state government, universities, and the federal government. In recent years, she has supported the development of extension programming in community emergency management, community food systems, community health, and community entrepreneurship and economic development.

Mary is a fellow in the National Academy of Community Engagement Scholars, an MU Cambio Center fellow, a Food Systems Leadership Institute fellow and was a an MU McQuinn Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership fellow. She was also a National Extension Leadership Development Program fellow. She has served on the boards for the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, the Missouri Rural Development Partners, and the Rural Policy Research Institute, the Community Development Society, and its Missouri Chapter. Her honors include the MU International Engaged Faculty Award, CDS Program of the Year Award, CDS Achievement Award, MoCDS Distinguished Service Award, University of Missouri Vice-President's Outstanding Team Achievement Award, University Extension's Community Developer of the Year Award and Distinguished Service Award, and Leadership Development Fellow with the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy. Mary has international experience in Asia and Africa. She has provided leadership for MU Extension's engagement with the University of the Western Cape, S. Africa and for training in agricultural extension in Ghana. She obtained a bachelor's degree in Agriculture, master's degree in Adult Education, and doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Early in her career, she worked in the management of a horticultural firm and for USDA's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. She has also owned a home-based greeting card design company.