MU Extension and Engagement Cabinet on Philanthropy

Since 1914, University of Missouri Extension and Engagement has brought university research, knowledge and resources to Missourians. The way we work has changed over the years, but our dedication to fulfilling Mizzou's land-grant mission has only grown stronger.

The MU Extension and Engagement Cabinet on Philanthropy serves as a catalyst for strengthening and extending this work through the consistent and generous support of donors.

Thanks to their personal philanthropy, advice and volunteer support of advancement activities, Cabinet on Philanthropy members help build sustainable resources to better serve and partner with people and communities across our state.

Members' partnership and commitment help foster a culture of philanthropy with lasting impact throughout the 21st century — far beyond our state and our lifetimes.

Meet the Cabinet


  1. George Deatz

    George Deatz

    I currently serve on the Greene County 100 Club board and have a long history of community volunteer service since officially “retiring” in 1995. Much of that service has been focused on MU Extension and all-things-gardening. I chaired the Greene County Extension Council, helped develop the Extension Council Business Plan, and served two terms as vice president of the MU Extension Master Gardeners of Greene County. I was also active in developing the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Gardens. During three terms as board president, I helped grow the membership base of over 1,000 and also was editor of the Friends of the Garden's “FOG Daily News Blog.” I’m the current editor of “The Garden Word.”

    In addition to my volunteer work, I own Deatz Rentals, a Columbia real estate business, and am also president of Home Pride, Inc., a real estate management and sales and marketing consulting firm. Until its sale in 1995, I also co-owned Automotive Resources Development, Inc.

    I volunteer with numerous other organizations, including the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Greater Ozarks Hosta Society and Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri. My wife Linda and I have three adult children and six grandchildren.
    City: Springfield
    Term ends: 2025

  2. Clark Fobian

    Clark Fobian

    I received my BS in agriculture from University of Missouri and joined the Army Reserves, where I was trained as a field medic and operating room technician. I went on to receive my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the UMC College of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in Nevada and Marshall. In 1981, my wife, Rita, and I started a companion animal practice in Sedalia, eventually expanding into a three-doctor, fifteen-employee practice. I have served as vice-president, president-elect, president and chairman of the board of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association. I was elected to the American Veterinary Medical Association Board of Directors to represent District VII (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri), and also served as AVMA president. I have received numerous state and national veterinary leadership and service awards.

    Rita and I met as students at MU and have been married for over 45 years and have two children and four grandchildren. We are members of the First United Methodist Church of Sedalia, where I also devote much time and energy to community organizations, including the Sedalia Symphony Society, Katy Trail Volunteers, Sedalia Rotary, and Pettis County 4-H.
    City: Sedalia
    Term ends: 2024

  3. Rita Mawson Fobian

    Rita Mawson Fobian

    I grew up on a farm in Archie, Missouri. I have a BA in education from MU where I met my husband Clark. I worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration while Clark finished his DVM degree. I taught first grade in Nevada and did substitute teaching in the Marshall school district. After we established the Thompson Hills Animal Clinic in Sedalia, I worked as practice manager until its sale in 2017.

    A member of the First United Methodist Church of Sedalia, I have served on numerous committees including the Administrative Council and Building Committee. I am a charter member of the Sedalia Area Habitat for Humanity Board, serving as its secretary, vice president and acting president and as chair of the Habitat Family Selection Committee. I also volunteer with the Missouri State Fair Foundation and with Katy Trail Sedalia, serving as a Missouri Parks Volunteer on the trail.

    My proudest accomplishment has been the upbringing of two exceptional children and watching our family grow to four grandchildren. I enjoy traveling, gardening, fishing, hiking, canoeing, cooking, reading and spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren.
    City: Sedalia
    Term ends: 2024

  4. Tom Henderson

    Tom Henderson

    While I was born in Indiana and grew up in southern Illinois, most of my life has been centered in Missouri. I graduated with a BS in business from what is now Missouri State University and from MU with an MBA in 1970. The following summer, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant through MU ROTC and served two years in the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. My dissertation for my PhD in Education from Southern Illinois University was "The Development of Statewide Coordination of Higher Education in Missouri."

    From 1972 until my retirement in 2002 as Vice Provost, I was with MU Extension, first in Pulaski, Jefferson and Cape Girardeau counties, later as a program director in business and industry, community and economic development and continuing education. Since retiring, I have returned twice to serve as interim Director of Extension and as Assistant to the Provost for Economic Development and Distance Learning.

    Active in the MU Retirees Association, I serve as chair of the MURA Past Presidents. I have co-chaired the MU Flagship Council and am a member of the Missouri 100. A fan of Tiger football, basketball and softball in particular, I also enjoy fishing in Ozark streams. My wife of 51 years, Sandra Henderson, and I have two children and three grandkids.
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2025

  5. Joan Turner Hickman

    Joan Turner Hickman

    My involvement with MU Extension goes all the way back to childhood when I was a 4-H member in Buchanan County for 11 years, attending both the National 4-H Congress and 4-H Conference. While at the university receiving both my BS and MS in home economics, I served as a MU Extension field specialist. I then went on to teach pre-vocational home economics in the St. Joseph schools, served as a Head Start parent involvement coordinator and was a 4-H project and club leader for 10 years before becoming a 4-H youth development specialist in the Northwest Region.

    Throughout my career, I have been a homemaker, wife, mother, grandmother and active volunteer, holding a variety of leadership and service positions in various organizations including the Rotary Club #32, our church administrative council and the boards of the St. Joseph Museums and the Missouri 4-H Foundation. I have been married for 55 years to John Hickman, a recently retired corn and soybean farmer. We have two adult children and three grandsons, all 4-H members or 4-H alums.
    City: St. Joseph
    Term ends: 2023

  6. Doug Kueker

    Doug Kueker

    I am the director of innovation at Vivayic, Inc., a company I co-founded in 2006 that helps organizations use learning as a key strategy to advance their mission. Our company's experiences range from helping several Fortune 100 companies and global NGOs that are striving to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply to consulting with state agencies and educators trying to make classrooms and educational systems more relevant and engaging. As the steward of Vivayic's Learning Solution Model™, I provide leadership to our team as they apply their knowledge of learning and development to help build other's capacity to do good in the world.

    I earned my undergraduate degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri, a master's degree in educational psychology from Purdue University, and a PhD in information sciences and learning technologies from MU.

    In high school, I served on the Missouri State 4-H Council and see the value of 4-H in communities. I currently serve on the Missouri 4-H Foundation Board of Directors. My wife Emily and I live in Lake Ozark, Missouri.
    City: Lake Ozark
    Term ends: 2024

  7. Emily Kueker

    Emily Kueker

    I joined Vivayic, Inc., in 2009 as its chief financial officer, responsible for many of the company's business aspects including accounting, payroll, operational systems, financial forecasting, human resources, employee on-boarding and employee benefits. As a team member and owner, I understand the importance of being intentional about the company culture, and I am one half of the very popular "party planning committee." One of Vivayic's philosophies is that "It's not what we do, it's who we are," and I focus my energy on "who we are."

    I grew up in Shelbyville, Missouri, where I was a 4-H club member. I earned a B.S. in agricultural education-leadership and communications and a minor in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Columbia College. I am an active volunteer and advocate for Mizzou, serving in leadership positions for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Association and on the Mizzou Alumni Association Governing Board. My husband Doug and I live in Lake Ozark, Missouri.
    City: Lake Ozark
    Term ends: 2024

  8. Doris Littrell

    Doris Littrell

    Born in Birmingham, Alabama, my first exposure to Missouri was coming to Columbia for school at Stephens College. That year I met my husband Don, an MU student. He became an extension youth specialist and a community development specialist in Miller County, the Bootheel and on campus. I learned about extension from working alongside Don across the state.

    After our two sons were in school, I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees, going on to work with adult learning programs at Stephens, then leading Extension Teaching at MU that evolved into Mizzou Online, now offering more than 230 certificate and degree programs for adult and non-traditional learners.

    Our family has added daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. Along with our "day jobs," Don and I did team teaching, writing, training and consulting in community development. My volunteer efforts focus on community development, politics and social justice — with a passion for efforts to eliminate racism. I hope the Cabinet on Philanthropy will help educate and involve the public in the good things from Mizzou and Extension enriching Missouri, the country and the world.
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2023

  9. James Ollar

    James "Jim" H. Ollar

    My family is from Ripley and Reynolds counties, and I grew up in St. Louis and Jackson counties. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Central Missouri and my MBA from the University of Missouri.

    This background prepared me for my 37 years with MU Extension and UM System Academic Affairs, where I served as director of administration, assistant vice provost, assistant director of cooperative extension and assistant vice president of outreach and extension, retiring in 2002.

    My wife of 57 years, Sandy Phillips Ollar, and I have two children and five granddaughters. I am a life member Epsilon Sigma Phi, the organization for extension professionals; a member of the MU Alumni Association, the MU Retirees Association; the Jefferson, Columns and Tiger Quarterback clubs; as well as a retired Rotarian, a past church moderator and volunteer mentor with at-risk high school youth. I enjoy fishing, golf, updating our home and grounds and supporting our children's and granddaughters' interests.

    I believe that education is the single most important factor in improving individual lives and maintaining a continually improving society. Extension is, by design and definition, education for anyone interested in improving themselves and their communities. There is no downside to supporting and encouraging others to support Extension.
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2023

  10. Diane Olson

    Diane Olson

    I grew up in Cape Fair in Stone County where my family owned and operated a general store. After graduation from Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) I worked for 16 years as a child and family development specialist with MU Extension, serving Bates, Benton, Cedar, Hickory, St. Clair and Vernon counties. I then went on to serve as director of promotion and education programs for the Missouri Farm Bureau in Jefferson City for more than 34 years. I also have a master's degree from MU.

    Throughout my career I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage with people across the state whether as an Extension or Farm Bureau employee. The people of Missouri are what make this a great state and I value the opportunity to work beside them to enhance individuals and communities.

    My husband Carl and I have a son and daughter-in-law and grandson.

    Serving on the Cabinet on Philanthropy provides me with a continuation of service to the people of the state of Missouri. This group offers direction and leadership to ensure that MU Extension will continue to meet the needs of the people.
    City: Jefferson City
    Term ends: 2024

  11. H.C. Russell

    H.C. Russell

    I completed a BS in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri in 1979. Since 1986, I have worked as an area credit manager with MFA Incorporated, a regional agricultural supply and marketing cooperative serving more than 45,000 farmers in Missouri and adjacent states.

    I currently serve on the MU Extension Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, serving on the CARET National Executive Commission as one of three representatives from the north central region. Previously, I chaired the former MU Extension State Council. I am also a member of the Mizzou Alumni Association and serve on the Mizzou Legislative Network Committee, as well as representing MU Extension on the Intercampus Alumni and Extension Leadership Council and Mizzou's Our Time to Lead advancement campaign cabinet.

    I am married to Susan Youorski Russell.
    City: Clark
    Term ends: 2023

  12. Susan Youorski Russell

    Susan Youorski Russell

    My nursing career, which began in my home state of North Carolina, took me through a variety of specialties including IV therapy specialist, ICUs, an ophthalmologist's office, MU Trauma Center nurse manager and a home health nurse manager. While working I began and completed a BS in Health Services Management from MU, married H.C. Russell, and graduated with my MBA while expecting our second child.

    In 1990, we moved to our farm where I began my education in cattle operations, haying and 4-H, a program my husband spent his formative years in, as well as our children, with projects in cattle, pigs, dogs, horses, woodworking and photography.

    As our involvement in 4-H expanded, H.C.'s and my involvement in Extension grew. Accompanying H.C. to the local and state council functions increased my awareness of MU Extension's broad impact. His appointment by MU Extension as a Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching delegate led to a better understanding of the university's land-grant mission on a national level. None of these opportunities could have occurred without the generous giving of time and money from MU's Cabinet on Philanthropy and other advancement programs.
    City: Clark
    Term ends: 2023

  13. Ruth Brent Tofle

    Ruth Brent Tofle

    I am professor emerita of architectural studies at the University of Missouri and currently serve as president of the MU Retirees Association. Born and raised in Washington, Missouri, I received my BS from MU's College of Human Environmental Sciences. Following a master's degree and PhD from the University of Minnesota, I received a post doctorate fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health and was a two-time Fulbright Fellow, studying in China and in Morocco and Tunisia.

    My research interests were in environmental gerontology and place attachment, historic preservation and color. I was also a registered commercial interior designer in Missouri.

    I was recognized as one of the 30 "Most Admired Educators" for 2013 by DesignIntelligence, the same year I also received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the MU Alumni Association. I am among one of MU's longest serving department chairs with continuous service from 1984 to 2018.

    My community service has included chairing the Missouri 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and working as a Rotarian. I remain active in retirement by being a loyal MU alumna, Rotarian, property manager and family historian. My husband Marvin and I enjoy family time with our daughter, son and five grandchildren.
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2024

  14. Linda Jo Turner

    Linda "Jo" Turner

    I am a Boone County and Mizzou 4-H alumna with a BS in elementary education, a MS in recreation and park administration, and PhD in human development and family studies — all from the University of Missouri.

    My lifelong career with MU Extension began in Crawford, Washington, Dent and St. Charles counties. I served as a state 4-H youth development specialist and in 1996, became MU's state 4-H program leader, a role I held for 10 years. I also served twice as interim MU Extension director and vice provost.

    I have worked with the National 4-H Council to coordinate the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development and raise funds for 4-H STEM programs. While with the National 4-H Council, I secured and administered a multi-million-dollar initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa by reaching young farmers through 4-H programs.

    I volunteer with the MU Retirees Association, Assistance League and other community groups. My husband Dr. Dale Brigham and I enjoy cycling, cooking and traveling.

    I believe in the importance of "paying it forward." Supporting MU Extension through philanthropy is one way that I am investing in the future.
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2023

  15. Cassy Dierking Venters

    Cathy "Cassy" Dierking Venters

    My lifelong major interests are in international programs and partnerships on issues that impact people worldwide; organizational structures and messages that promote giving to develop grass-roots initiatives with exceptional stewardship; leadership development.

    I have a BS in family economics from Kansas State University; a MS in extension education and public administration and an EdD in leadership and public policy analysis from the University of Missouri.

    Throughout my career, I served as an extension specialist in family economics, continuing education and business administration, and as a leader for Global Leadership Exchange with Thailand's Ministry of Interior.

    I have been a recipient of the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award from MU and a participant in Rotary International leadership and international partnerships. I am also a board member of the Overland Park, Kansas, Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store and partnerships.
    City: Lander, Wyoming
    Term ends: 2023

  16. Jerry W. Venters

    Jerry W. Venters

    I am a graduate of both the University of Missouri School of Journalism and School of Law, with major lifelong interests in social justice issues in the United State and internationally, and in leadership development.

    I have been a lawyer and federal bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Missouri and am past president of the board of Legal Aid in the Western District of Missouri.

    Along with my participation in Rotary International leadership and international partnerships, I have also supported the Global Leadership Exchange with Thailand's Ministry of Interior.

    With MU Extension faculty, I developed and implemented a credit abuse program for high school students.
    City: Lander, Wyoming
    Term ends: 2023

  17. Andrew Zumwalt

    Andrew Zumwalt

    After 16 years with MU Extension, I am now a full-time associate teaching professor in MU’s Personal Financial Planning Program. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Consumer and Family Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Economics at MU, I earned a Master of Science in Consumer and Family Economics also from MU. My graduate work involved helping extension faculty create a statewide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. After completing my MS, I joined MU Extension to support the expansion of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program across the state.

    During my years with MU Extension, I created personal finance curriculums, served as a statewide contact for personal finance and oversaw more than $2.6 million in grants and contracts. I saw firsthand how we deliver MU to the residents of Missouri and help empower them to add value to their lives. Whether helping people file their federal and state tax returns or understand the importance of health insurance in their financial lives, MU Extension was there, facilitating and leading various personal finance efforts.

    Valerie and I are a Mizzou match, married for 15 years. We met working as MU Residential Life staff working in Donnelly Hall (now demolished).
    City: Columbia
    Term ends: 2025