Rural Economic and Community Vitality Instructors

Photo Dave Aiken

Dave Aiken

Local Government Law, Public Finance

A native Nebraskan, professor David Aiken graduated from Hastings Col­lege and received his law degree from George Washington University, Washington DC. After graduating from law school, he joined the University of Nebraska Department of Agricultural Economics staff in 1975. Professor Aiken has published over 100 technical and popular pub­lications dealing with water rights, environmental law, and agricul­tural law. He teaches online undergraduate courses in agricultural law and environmental & natural resources law.

Filley Hall 103D

photo of cheryl burkhart-kriesel

Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel


Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel is an Extension Specialist – Community Vitality, located at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. She brings to the position over 25 years of community development experience focused in the areas of new resident recruitment and retention, tourism development and community planning.  Dr. Burkhart-Kriesel has held leadership roles in of several state and regional Boards, including Nebraska Workforce Development, South Platte Natural Resource District and most recently been a member of the Blueprint Nebraska statewide planning effort.  In 2019 she was asked to participate in the USDA’s National Rural Workforce Innovation Network (RWIN).

 Panhandle Research & Extension Center, Scottsbluff

Photo of Daniela Mattos

Daniela Mattos

Economic Analysis, Sustainable Community Economics, Capstone

Dr. Daniela Mattos is a Professor of Practice and Coordinator of the Rural Economic and Community Vitality Online Program at the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her PhD in Community Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2014, Daniela joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to teach courses related to Community Economic Development, where she developed a curriculum on rural and regional economic analysis and development.

Filley Hall 58D

Photo of L.J. McElravy

L.J. McElravy

Effective Leadership in Groups/Teams

Dr. L.J. McElravy is an Associate Professor of Leadership in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, and Associate Dean of Graduate Student Professional Development within Graduate Studies. Dr. McElravy’s research and extension efforts are focused on leader and leadership assessment, leadership training and development based on positive psychology, and developing shared leadership systems prepared to engage in effective creative and innovative problem-solving. Dr. McElravy's four years in the U.S. Army helped shape his beliefs about leadership being a truly developmental process that can greatly impact the success of teams, organizations, and communities.

Filley Hall 143

photo of charlotte narjes

Charlotte Narjes

Community Engagement

Charlotte Narjes is a Community Vitality Initiative Associate Extension Educator in the Department of Agricultural Economics. She has a Bachelors in Economics and a Masters in Ag Leadership from UNL.  Charlotte has facilitated and developed educational programs, visioning and networking opportunities for rural communities including working with businesses through the Gallup EAS project. Currently, she is leading the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center that brings together communities and/or individuals to form a cooperative business around a common vision. 

Filley Hall 58C

Photo Marilyn Schlake

Marilyn Schlake

Action Strategies, Business Analysis

Marilyn Schlake is an Associate Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative and the Department of Agricultural Economics.  She received her undergraduate degree from UNL College of Business and her Masters degree in Organizational Management, with emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Peru State College.  Her focused areas are business, community and economic development. Schlake served as a Gallup Entrepreneur Acceleration System (EAS) coach and is currently certified as a Gallup Employee Engagement coach and Strategic Leadership coach.  Marilyn currently chairs the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Taskforce and serves on numerous local and service organizations.

Filley Hall 58D