Our Team

Leadership Team

Lynne Borden, PhD

Dr. Lynne Borden is the associate dean for research and engagement for the University of Minnesota Extension. As the principal investigator of the CYFAR Professional Development and Technical Assistance (PDTA) Center, she provides overall leadership to all aspects of the team.

Daniel Perkins, PhD

Daniel F. Perkins, PhD, is a professor of family and youth resiliency and policy at Penn State University and the principal scientist of the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State, a university-wide applied research center. Since 1993, Dr. Perkins has provided leadership to CYFAR grants. Dr. Perkins has designed and evaluated strengths-based family and youth development programs in 4-H and Cooperative Extension and has led complex projects for over 25 years. His work involves teaching, research, and outreach through the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. His scholarship integrates research and practice in three focus areas: (a) healthy family development (increasing resiliency through evidence and strengths-based educational programming); (b) implementation science (involving mixed method hybrid evaluations of preventions and interventions, implementation outcomes, and community-based delivery models, especially in military connected contexts); and (c) community collaboration (promoting strategies for mobilizing communities in support of children, youth, and families). He has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and is a recent recipient of the W.K.K. Kellogg Community Engagement Award for the northeast region. He is passionate about the applied mission of the land-grant university.

Sarah Louise Butler

Sarah serves as the grant program associate for the CYFAR PDTA Center at the University of Minnesota. In this role, Sarah provides administrative support, program management, and web content management.

Phillip L. Ealy

Phillip L. Ealy brings a wealth of leadership, mentoring, teaching, and coaching experience to his role as the coaching coordinator for the CYFAR PDTA Center. As a retired Army officer, he has honed his skills in guiding and mentoring others. He holds a Ph.D. in Workforce Education and Development, a Master of Professional Studies degree in Organization Development and Change from Pennsylvania State University, and a B.S. in Communications from West Virginia State University.

Mark Otto

Mark Otto serves as a co-PI for the CYFAR grant and as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of Minnesota Extension. Previously, Mark served as a project director for CYFAR, providing guidance and oversight on CYFAR team projects. 

Heidi Fahning, PhD

Heidi Fahning PhD, is the Center for Research and Outreach (REACH) Lab research project director. She strives for research to be applicable to communities and her approach is informed by extensive research, grant writing, and evaluation experience across a wide variety of contexts.

Denae Harmon

Denae is the Center for Research and Outreach (REACH) Lab evaluation specialist. She previously worked as a K-12 accreditation lead for international schools. As part of her accreditation work, Denae developed remote readiness protocols and coached school leaders. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Minnesota where her research focus is how education evaluation processes can promote meaningful stakeholder engagement and enhanced accessibility.

Coaching Team

Kerri Ashurst, PhD

Dr. Kerri Ashurst is a senior Extension specialist for family and relationship development in Family and Consumer Sciences Extension at the University of Kentucky. She has worked with a variety of grants focusing on outreach and support to families and has worked with CYFAR for over 23 years. Kerri's focus is building capacity for reaching underserved or at-risk children, youth, families, and communities. Her primary areas of interest include families who are coping with major crises, positive youth and young adult development, couple communication and relationship building, and stress management. Kerri holds a BA in psychology, an MS in marriage and family therapy, and a PhD in family sciences from the University of Kentucky.

Misty Blue-Terry, PhD

Dr. Misty Blue-Terry is the 4-H specialist for matters of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the Cooperative Extension program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Her educational background is in industrial and systems engineering and human factors engineering. She has partnered with campus professors, community-based organizations, and other leaders to provide STEM related programming in robotics, basic engineering and design principals, the scientific method, and GIS/GPS applications. She is also the founder of the Innovation Station, the 4-H mobile makerspace, and STEM lab. Misty has served as a content expert for a CYFAR Sustainable Community Project grant and has goals to help broaden the reach of 4-H and STEM in underrepresented communities and to support girls in science programs.

Candi Dierenfield, PhD

Dr. Candi Dierenfield bleeds green! Her experience with 4-H began in 1983 when she joined the Worden Riverdales 4-H club in Montana. She took sewing and made a skirt and a knit top. She loved everything about 4-H, except for record book time! Her first fashion review won best of class for construction, and there was no stopping her from there! 4-H gave her the confidence and life skills to get her first modeling job, start a sewing business at age 15, attend numerous national 4-H events, and pursue a degree in fashion design. While living in Alaska, she began working with 4-H, and she has been working with the CYFAR grant program in a variety of capacities since 2004. Candi became a foster-parent, fostering over 20 youth. This led to becoming part of the Access, Equity, and Belonging Champions for Youth in Foster Care national committee. Candi received a bachelor’s degree from Woodbury University. She attended Montana State University - Billings to earn a degree in information systems and communication, and she earned a PhD in education from Northcentral University. Candi is the 4-H state specialized agent, volunteer management and development at the University of Florida.

Autumn Cano-Guin, PhD

Dr. Autumn Guin supports program implementation, evaluation, and sustainability for CYFAR Sustainable Community Projects across the country as a coach and evaluation consultant for the CYFAR PDTA Center. She also serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the youth, family, and community sciences graduate program and as the program design and evaluation specialist for North Carolina 4-H’s Healthy Living and STEM Programs. In addition, Dr. Guin codirects multiple grant programs in these roles and provides leadership in the development, implementation, oversight, evaluation, and sustainability of research-based and evidence-informed programs for youth, families, and communities. Dr. Guin holds a BS in psychology, an MS in community psychology, and a PhD in educational research and policy analysis specializing in educational evaluation and educator professional development. In addition, she is a board certified coach with 24 years of qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation experience.

Pamela Payne, PhD

Dr. Pamela B. Payne is an assistant professor of human development and family studies as well as Cooperative Extension at the University of Nevada, Reno. Pam has worked with CYFAR programs previously working to pilot what is now the Common Measures process for CYFAR grant recipients. Pam is interested in positive relationship development, specifically romantic relationships, parenting, and youth outcomes. She has also worked with developing extension programs and courses for military families. Dr. Payne holds a BA and PhD from the University of Arizona and an MA from Pepperdine University.

Jennifer Wells-Marshall, PhD

Jennifer Wells-Marshall received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Tuskegee University and her master's degree in human development and family studies and PhD in educational psychology from Auburn University. Jennifer has over 23 years of experience in program design, implementation, and evaluation and has presented seminars in local, state, national, and international arenas. She brings experiences from mental health and social services, higher education and Extension, and business and industry. She has supported programs for children, youth, and families throughout her career. Jennifer was employed with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama A&M, and Auburn Universities for 18 years prior to joining the human development and family science faculty at Auburn University. Jennifer and her husband have four children and live in Auburn, AL. 

Tyrone Atkinson

Tyrone Atkinson is a program coordinator for Family and Consumer Sciences Extension. He holds a BS in family and consumer sciences and will receive an MS in community and leadership development in the summer of 2023 from the University of Kentucky. He has worked in Extension since 2007 and has primarily focused on at-risk youth and families, with an extensive concentration on military families. His passion is enhancing family life and well-being through camps, programs, and leadership experiences that generate support networks and lifelong bonding experiences for youth and families.

Crystal Tyler-Mackey, PhD

Dr. Crystal Tyler-Mackey serves as Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist and leader. She partners with communities to foster capacity building for leadership, decision-making, and responding to critical issues, including food access, substance misuse, inclusion and diversity, and mental health. Whether through funded projects, efforts to bolster community capacity, or cocreating programmatic initiatives, Dr. Tyler-Mackey strives for truly collaborative efforts that reflect current priority needs and contexts of communities. Dr. Tyler-Mackey holds a PhD and master’s degree in family science from the University of Maryland and a BS in family and child development from Virginia Tech.

Dorothy P. Brandon, PhD

Dorothy P. Brandon was born in Halifax, Virginia. She received her doctorate and master's in family and consumer sciences education from The Ohio State University. She also completed a graduate certificate in personal finance from Kansas State University. She has worked internationally at the University of Botswana (Botswana, Africa) and Zayed University (Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.). Presently, she works for Alabama Cooperative Extension at Alabama A&M University as a family and finance specialist.