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Welcome Rita! New County Extension Director in Lake County

Reminders and alerts for Purdue Extension CD educators.


Rita Jacque Gillis is the new Purdue Extension Lake County Extension Director. She brings a wealth of knowledge in Community and Economic Development to her position. Making communities more sustainable and self-sufficient are at the heart of her long career of over 25 years in Community Development. She has proven herself as a servant leader within the area.  Rita has already been engaged in numerous community initiatives and will be exceptional at leading and growing partnerships for Purdue’s Lake County Extension office.

Her focus will continue to be on working within unserved and underserved communities throughout the county. She believes that exposure to and involvement with communities whose demographics differ from the majority will serve all residents well by raising awareness of the reality of other people’s lives and every-day experiences.

In addition, Rita has also been actively involved in community-based initiatives and boards through current and previous service with these organizations, including: St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy, Bridges of Care,  Association of Indiana Enterprise Zones, Foundations of East Chicago Grant Committee, Top 20 Incorporated, and the Gary, East Chicago Hammond Empowerment Zone,

Rita is a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration from Indiana University. She and her late husband, Richard, are the proud parents of one daughter, Raina.

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