Employee Resource Groups and Task Forces

The Division of Extension has long valued the significant role and contributions of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Task Forces (TFs) based on the way they help promote and sustain a positive and inclusive organizational culture.

Involvement in ERGs/TFs offers Extension professionals a unique space to connect with colleagues. Building relationships with peers who may work in different positions within the Division and different areas of the state helps promote a strong internal professional network. Furthermore, the efforts that collectively stem from these relationships help contribute to Extension’s broader strategic goals and priorities. For example, ERGs/TFs help:

  • Share resources that support Extension’s research and educational outreach mission
  • Serve as an advisory resource to Extension leadership on critical issues that influence Extension’s relationships with specific Wisconsin communities
  • Sponsor professional learning opportunities for audiences that are both internal and external to the Division
  • Support the efforts of Divisional committees and work groups
  • Inform practice around strategies that support culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate programming

The structure, goals, priorities, and activities vary by group. Each ERG/TF is self-organized and self-directed by Extension professionals. The Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance (OAIC) functions as the executive sponsor for Extension’s ERGs /TFs. OAIC’s role as the executive sponsorship offers strategic counsel and support to ERGs/TFs when requested or needed. What is more, the level of administrative guidance provided by the OAIC Director is offered in a manner that is consistent with goals, objectives, and priorities established by each group. OAIC’s support for ERGs/TFs recognizes each group’s uniqueness and respects the community-informed approaches that underpin each group’s efforts and activities.

OAIC provides an annual operational budget for each of the four existing ERGs and TFs. OAIC support may also extend to coordinating logistical aspects of ERG/TF meetings and activities. Support also includes processing honoraria for external speakers contracted for professional learning opportunities. When applicable, the OAIC Director serves as a liaison with the Dean’s Leadership Team and advises groups on steps to take for requesting additional or supplemental funds that support special projects and initiatives.

Getting involved
If you are interested in connecting with any of Extension’s Employee Resource Groups or Task Forces, or want to learn more about their specific objectives and efforts, we encourage you to get in touch with the listed contact person(s) below. Likewise, if you and/or a group of colleagues have an idea for an ERG/TF that expands on our current groups, please contact OAIC at oaic@extension.wisc.edu.

Below is a brief description of our current resource groups and task forces as well as the name and email of a designated contact person.

Printable brochure available here.

African American Black Employee Resource Group (AABERG)

The Division of Extension AABERG serves as a resource for African-American/Black colleagues interested in fostering the success of current and future AA/Black colleagues by sponsoring programming, providing collegial support, fostering belonging, and raising a collective voice related to issues that impact employees’ ability to thrive. AABERG will also support initiatives that promote career development, mentoring and guidance, recruitment and retention, and networking and relationship building.  Public meetings and membership will be extended to all colleagues and allies quarterly. To read more about things AABERG is doing to foster an inclusive work environment, check out the first issue of the annual report, ‘Brown Paper’.

Website: https://uwprod.sharepoint.com/sites/EXT-AAERG/SitePages/Home.aspx

Contact(s): Danielle Hairston-Green (danielle.hairstongreen@wisc.edu)

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Employee Resource Group (ERG)

The Division of Extension APIDA Employee Resource Group is a space for Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans and allies to support and empower one another, communicate APIDA community and employee issues, educate Division of Extension of APIDA culture and current events, and serve as a resource to help Division of Extension work more effectively with APIDA communities. The APIDA ERG meets on a quarterly basis.

Contact(s): Venkata Karri (venkata.karri@wisc.edu),Jen Park-Mroch (jennifer.parkmroch@wisc.edu), Phin Ter Thao (pthao9@wisc.edu) , Victoria Solomon (victoria.solomon@wisc.edu)

Latinx Employee Resource Group (LERG)

For more than 15 years, LERG has provided a source of support and empowerment for Extension’s Latinx employees and allies. LERG currently meets on a quarterly basis throughout the year.

Blogsite: https://blogs.extension.wisc.edu/leag/

Contact(s): Udaí Olivares (udai.olivares@wisc.edu),Janeth Orozco (janeth.orozco@wisc.edu)

Group photo of members of Latinx Employee Resource Group
LERG group photo

Latinx Task Force (LTF)

Description: The Latinx Taskforce is comprised of faculty, administrators, academic staff, community members, and leaders from statewide organizations. Its purpose is to inform institutional decisions on recruitment and staffing, programs, educational curriculum, outreach efforts, and offers institution-wide professional development training on how to best work with diverse Latinx communities throughout Wisconsin. LTF also helps strengthen professional linkages between the Division of Extension and campus-based faculty. This helps align research, resources, and strategies that aim to benefit Latinx populations in Wisconsin. In this capacity, the Taskforce leverages the collective expertise and resources offered by the greater UW-Madison academic community.


Contact(s): Armando Ibarra (aibarra@wisc.edu)

LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG)

The Division of Extension LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group celebrates LGBTQ+ identifying colleagues and allies. The purpose of this group is to build relationships and empower one another, advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and education, and serve as a resource for the Division. The LGBTQ+ ERG meets on a quarterly basis.

Contact(s):  Nichole Whetter (nichole.whetter@wisc.edu)

Native American Task Force (NATF)

Description: Extension’s Native American Task Force (NATF) builds relationships and partnerships between UW-Extension, UW Native Nations, and Wisconsin’s Native American communities and organizations. The work of the NATF helps 1) UW-Extension staff work more effectively with Native American communities, 2) build bridges between tribal and non-tribal communities, 3) facilitate communications related to working with Native American audiences, and 3) build working relationships between 1862 Land Grant Institutions, such as UW-Madison, and 1994 Land Grant Institutions.


Contact(s): Brian Gauthier (brian.gauthier@wisc.edu)

Veteran Employee Resource Group (VERG)

Description: The Division of Extension Veteran Employee Resource Group (VERG) strives to improve the lives of veterans both within Extension and across the state. VERG serves as a voice for veterans in Extension administrative and policy discussions and works to ensure veterans are fairly represented in the recruitment and hiring process. VERG also supports veteran colleagues through mentoring and networking to help them thrive in the Extension culture. Finally, VERG serves as a resource that Extension colleagues can utilize for advice and guidance when working with veterans. VERG is open to all veterans, family members of veterans, and allies.

Contact(s)Brian Kline (brian.kline@wisc.edu), Bill Klase (william.klase@wisc.edu)