The Youth, Family and Community Sciences online faculty is comprised of 15 tenure-track faculty, 31 grant funded professionals, 11 expanded food and nutrition education professionals, 1 instructional designer and 2 administrative support professionals.                                                     

The faculty are well-known for excellence in research and teaching, and have received numerous honors. Members frequently serve on editorial boards and in positions of leadership for professional organizations within the family sciences discipline area.

Faculty are actively involved in research and the department ranks as one of the leaders within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in terms of grant dollars per faculty member. Funding comes from state government, federal government and private foundations.

Dr. Carolyn Dunn

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Overweight and obesity prevention
  • Nutrition for children
  • Physical activity
  • Policy and environmental change

Dr. Dunn is a professor and head of the Department Agricultural and Human Sciences at NC State University. She provides program expertise and statewide leadership for nutrition and wellness for families and communities. She has 25+ years of experience in nutrition education and develops nutrition education materials that are used across the country to help people eat smart and move more. Carolyn is the author/developer for numerous programs and tools that address healthy eating and physical activity. She is the lead author of the award-winning Color Me Healthy curriculum that helps young children eat smart and move more. She and colleagues created Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less, a 15-week evidence-based weight management program that is being used across the country in both in-person and online formats.

She is the author of Nutrition Decisions, an introductory nutrition textbook published by Jones and Bartlett. Dr. Dunn and colleagues have published their work in the American Journal of Health Promotion, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and others. She is the past chair of Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina, a 90-agency coalition that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray. She is a member of Sigma Xi the scientific research society and the Academy for Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension.

Dr. Dunn earned her B.S. in nutrition from Meredith College and her M.S. and Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a lifelong fitness advocate and enjoys running, weight training and yoga. She has a passion for cooking, food, travel, art and design.

work as a family coachDr. Kim Allen

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Family life coaching
  • Parenting
  • Relationship education
  • Reaching underserved audiences
  • Youth development
  • Teaching with technology

Kimberly Allen, Ph.D., BCC, is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Youth, Family, and Community Sciences graduate program at North Carolina State University where she teaches and directs the Family Life and Youth Development Program. Dr. Allen leads the Very Important Parent program, a national parenting program for young parents that includes online delivery and parent coaching.  Dr. Allen has over 20 years experience working with youth and their families and has led numerous research projects focusing on curriculum development for underserved audiences. Most recently, Dr. Allen published the book Theories, Research and Practical Guidelines for Family Life Coaching from Springer Press and is a Board Certified Coach specializing in family life issues. You can learn more about Dr. Allen by listening to her podcast, Parenting in the Future, or reading her blogs.

work with minority youth as a youth coachDr. Andrew Behnke

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Parent involvement in the educational and emotional lives of youth
  • Effectively serving and engaging diverse communities (e.g., military and Latino families)
  • Reducing youth risky behaviors and school dropout
  • Couple and relationship education

Andrew O. Behnke, Ph.D., is an associate professor of human development and an extension specialist. He has served the Latino community since 1995 in the realm of youth development and access to higher education. In 2007, Dr. Behnke and Cintia Aguilar developed the “Juntos” program to help Latino families come together to make higher education a reality for Latino youth (JuntosNC.org). He conducts outreach efforts and applied research on academic achievement among Latino youth, military family programs, parent involvement in academics, couple and relationship education, dropout prevention and access to higher education. He has received funding for 16 projects in the last 7 years and has published 24 scholarly articles and multiple book chapters in the field. His life mission is helping Latino youth and their families access and thrive in higher education and beyond.

work as a community liaisonDr. Carolyn Bird

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Financial management literacy and competence
  • Economic well-being of the family
  • Intersection of social and economic decision making
  • Military families and community

Dr. Bird conducts applied research with a focus on the community and family interconnections. She is the state principal investigator and past Vice Chair of Funding on Rural Families Speak About Health (NC1171), a national longitudinal research project investigating connections between health, economic well-being and community. She is a member of the graduate faculty and teaches in her department’s master’s degree program. Dr. Bird is currently serving as chair for the North Carolina Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists (NCACES) and serves as senator on the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate. Her national leadership positions include the Executive Board of extension’s Financial Security for All Community of Practice. She is a member of extension’s Creating Healthy Communities Community of Practice. Dr. Bird’s international collaborations include cross-cultural studies with colleagues in Turkey. Her invited talks include keynotes for the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education and at the First International Congress of the Family and Consumer Sciences, Belek-Antalya, Turkey. Her awards include the Dean Don Felker Financial Management National Award (2010); the Dean Don Felker Financial Management Regional Award (2010); and the Outstanding Extension Program Team Award (2010).

community service jobs, community organizer jobsDr. Harriet Edwards

Harriett Edwards, Ed.D., is an associate professor and extension specialist for volunteerism in the Youth, Family and Community Sciences graduate program at North Carolina State University. A native North Carolinian, she received her bachelor of arts in English communications at Campbell University, her master’s degree in public administration at NC State, and her doctorate in adult education at NC State University. Harriett’s first-of-its-kind dissertation research investigated critical aspects of effectively engaging episodic volunteers in community based youth programs.

Dr. Edwards works closely with the Extension State Advisory Council and the State Extension Advisory Leadership System, coordinating efforts to empower volunteer advisors to serve more effectively in their roles supporting NC Cooperative Extension. She also serves as the 4-H military liaison for North Carolina and has worked with the Department of Defense, the National Military Family Association and private funders to bring more than $1 million to North Carolina in support of military children and their families.

She has served as president of the NC Association of Volunteer Administration, and also as president of the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE), a national professional association for administrators of volunteer programs. Additionally, Dr. Edwards co-chaired the national committee to develop the National Framework for 4-H Volunteerism, a conceptual design for direction of national investment in volunteer development for 4-H programming. She maintains certifications as an administrator of volunteers (CAVNC) and is a member of the NC State University Academy for Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension.

Dr. Edwards has presented at numerous national and international conferences, including the International Conference on Volunteer Administration, the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service, the Association for Research in Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Agencies (ARNOVA) and the European Seminar on Extension Education. Harriett teaches graduate level courses in volunteer management at North Carolina State University and has served as adjunct faculty at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. Her work also includes the development of a “Basics in Volunteer Management” training to certify experienced volunteer administrators to teach “Basics in Volunteer Management” classes through North Carolina Community Colleges.

Her hobbies include reading, sewing, cooking and spending time with her nieces. She enjoys learning with the Women’s Study Group at her church and serves on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Wake Forest Public Library.

family coach certificatationDr. Luci Bearon

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Attitudes, beliefs and expectations about aging
  • Lifelong engagement and contributions of older adults
  • Education for family caregivers

Dr. Luci Bearon, a social gerontologist, received a Ph.D. in sociology from Duke University in conjunction with its Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. She has been in the field of aging for over 40 years. Her research, publications and service have focused on improving attitudes, beliefs and expectations about aging, encouraging the lifelong engagement and contributions of elders, making innovations in gerontology education and expanding education and support for family caregivers. As an associate professor and extension specialist in adult development/aging at NC State, she provides technical assistance and educational support to county extension educators who teach the public about successful and healthy aging, eldercare and grandparents raising grandchildren. Dr. Bearon teaches YFCS524 Gerontology in Family Life Education. She represents NC Cooperative Extension on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging, is a fellow of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and received the 2011 Applied Gerontologist Award from the Southern Gerontological Society.

get certified as a life coachDr. Sarah Kirby

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Residential Energy Management
  • Healthy Homes
  • Accessible Housing
  • Disaster Readiness, Response and Recovery

Dr. Kirby is a professor, FCS program leader, department extension leader and extension specialist for the Youth, Family and Community Sciences graduate program. She is the state coordinator for the Healthy Homes Partnership, which focuses on improving the health and safety of children and their caregivers in homes by reducing housing hazards that cause injury and disease. Dr. Kirby is actively involved in educational programs related to preparation, response and recovery after natural disasters. She is the program coordinator for MyPI North Carolina, a youth preparedness, leadership and educational outreach program. Dr. Kirby is a member of the FYD graduate faculty and currently teaches YFCS 585 Professional Ethics and Family Policy, YFCS 540, Environmental Influences on the Family and YFCS 500 the Supervised Professional Experience in the Youth, Family and Community Sciences Master’s Degree Program. Twitter: @sarahkirby

faimly scienceDr. Ben Silliman

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Youth development, esp. development of life skills
  • Youth program quality, esp. “active ingredients” of effective programs
  • Program evaluation and organizational learning

Ben worked with junior and senior high youth while in college at Colorado State University (B.A., English, 1975) and Princeton Seminary (M.Div., 1978), and after graduation. Growing interest in human development led to work in student services at Kansas State University, where he earned an M.S. in curriculum and instruction (1981) and a Ph.D. in human ecology (1987), and met his wife, Betty. After six years teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in human development and family life at Louisiana Tech University and collaborating with local extension professionals on youth programs, he became extension family life specialist at the University of Wyoming, contributing to the Extension Children, Youth and Families at Risk initiative and leading the WY CYFAR initiative. In 2001 he became NC extension youth development specialist where he has contributed to afterschool, informal science, youth-at-risk and program evaluation efforts. Ben has two children and five grandchildren. He enjoys gardening, outdoor activities and reading across diverse disciplines.

certificate in life coachingDr. Annie Hardison-Moody

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Religion and health
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Women’s health
  • Health promotion

Annie Hardison-Moody received her Ph.D. in religion from Emory University in 2012, where her studies focused on the intersections of religion and public health. Dr. Hardison-Moody continues to work in the emerging field of religion and health, with a focus on gender, reproductive health, food and parenting.

She is co-editor of Parenting Practices as a Source for Theology: Mothering Matters (Palgrave Macmillan), and author of When Religion Matters: Practicing Healing in the Aftermath of the Liberian Civil War (Wipf & Stock), which examines the role that religion played in women’s healing practices post-conflict. She is co-PI for Health Matters, a CDC-funded initiative that promotes healthy eating and places to be active in four North Carolina counties and served as co-PI for Voices into Action: The Families, Food, and Health Project, a USDA-funded study of the family food environment. Dr. Hardison-Moody is also director of Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More, a faith-based health promotion intervention. Her work with Faithful Families garnered an invitation to the White House through the Let’s Move initiative. In addition to her research and extension work, Dr. Hardison-Moody also teaches courses in the department in human sexuality and family health and well-being.

life coach certificationDr. Mitzi Downing