Sharon Gulick, director and extension state specialist 

University of Missouri, ExCEED Program
222 Gentry Hall
Phone: 573-884-0669
Alt-phone: 573-883-8393

Sharon currently serves as the director of University of Missouri Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program. The ExCEED program partners with rural communities and regions across Missouri to develop community-based strategies for economic development and focuses on core issues including community and economic development planning, community assessments, entrepreneurship, leadership development, youth retention and capacity building. In addition, ExCEED helps in the identification of regional strengths and assets for place-based economic development initiatives. In this capacity, Sharon works to connect communities and regions with resources and faculty expertise within MU Extension, the University of Missouri System and her national network. 

She is also the executive director for the Missouri Rural Development Partners, Missouri’s federally authorized rural development council. She is past-president of the international Community Development Society; serves on several boards including the Missouri Economic Development Council, and RMI, Inc., a Missouri-based CDC, and is member of the national Strategic Doing™ National Design Team, the Community Change Network and the Kellogg Foundation’s Rural People, Rural Policy initiative. 

She brings more than 25 years of experience in economic, small business and community development. Prior to joining the university, she worked for the Missouri Department of Economic Development as the department’s small business specialist and manager of the Missouri Business Assistance Center, where she specialized in business counseling for start-up and early stage small businesses. She has presented numerous workshops and seminars and developed publications and training materials.   

Sharon holds an undergraduate degree in business and an MBA. She is a certified Strategic Doing™ Guide, Professional Community and Economic Developer and holds the Economic Development Finance Professional certification from the National Development Council.

Sharon and her husband, John, live in a small town in central Missouri with their two children, mother-in-law and their Pembrooke Welsh Corgi, Max. 

For more about Sharon, see her curriculum vitae (PDF).

Pat Curry, project manager

Pat serves as a project manager in the Extension Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program with University of Missouri Extension. He is an economic geographer with more than 30 years of community economic development experience focused on providing planning, applied research and educational solutions for businesses, development organizations, local governments and nonprofits. Before joining ExCEED, he worked as a planning and market research consultant and spent 24 years in higher education extension positions at the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University.




Graduate research assistants

Meghan Hatcher

Meghan is a 2014 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a Bachelor of Journalism in science and health reporting. She is pursuing a Master of Science in Rural Sociology at MU. Her research interests include asset-based community development, domestic and global food security issues and the existence of natural resource issues within community systems. She has worked in rural communities in the Appalachia region, primarily in West Virginia and Tennessee. Meghan is also interested in applying community development principles to the work of the global Church in effecting change on key issues confronting communities today. She plans to attend seminary at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., beginning in August 2016.


Kathlee Freeman

On the campus of University of Missouri, Renée has previously served as an advisor for incoming internationals, as well as for MU students wishing to study in Africa, Middle East, Near and East-Central Europe, India and Russia. She holds a B.A. in English from Stephens College, and she is pursuing a Master of Science in Rural Sociology with emphases in community facilitation and organizational leadership.  Her research interests include designing multi-layered, transnational, and transdisciplinary learning opportunities for students of sustainable development, building resilient communities, and organizational analysis. Currently, she serves as graduate assistant to the director of MU Extension's ExCEED program, where she contributes to community economic and entrepreneurial development efforts here in Missouri.  

Renée is co-founder and president of Vessels International, Inc. — a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization established in 2007, in Columbia, Missouri. The not-for-profit entity builds sustainability through caring programs, generative organizational learning, and applied research in communities of practice, while linking Midwestern volunteers, researchers, and change agents to on-going service projects, research opportunities, and internships.  As a community organizer, Renée is at home in the arenas of international education and community development. She considers collaboration a way of life and aspires to live as a citizen diplomat, building community cohesion through the Rotary motto of “service above 

For more information, visit and like
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