University of Tennessee Extension Wins “Employer of the Year” From International Organization

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Honor comes from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ask just about any person in the University of Tennessee Extension family what they like about their job, and they might mention the impact they have in their communities and the people they help. Long thought of as a career where you can realize a calling for service, an international organization now confirms what many employees have believed for some time – that UT Extension is a great place to work.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) has named UT Extension as its 2023 Employer of the Year. This award recognizes employers who have created a workplace culture that strives to realize the full potential of administrative professionals and encourages their growth, both professionally and personally.

Employers nominated were to exemplify the core values of IAAP. In addition, the employer must demonstrate their commitment to employee wellness, engagement and retention in the development opportunities for advancement. All these guidelines were met through the nomination process for this award.

UT Extension is known as an organization committed to supporting community goals, creating a culture where all employees can thrive, maintaining a robust mentor program and providing resources or administrative support professionals in their pursuit of attaining their Certified Administrative Professional (CAP).

UT Extension Dean Ashley Stokes was recognized at the IAAP Summit conference July 18, 2023, at the Disney Dolphin & Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida. Joining her in accepting the award was UT Extension Administrative Specialist Trudi Neubeck with Tennessee 4-H and nominator and past president of the Tennessee Extension Association of Administrative Professionals (TEAAP), and Millie Hanson, administrative support assistant with UT Extension in Washington County and President-elect of TEAAP. 

IAAP was founded in 1942, and began offering certification for administrative professionals in 1951. The organization has more than 7,000 members worldwide representing 76 countries, and more than 1,100 people were in attendance at the 2023 IAAP Summit conference.

“This prestigious honor reflects the quality of people we have in our organization, and our commitment to having a strong, positive culture,” says Stokes. “In UT Extension, we are all about creating an environment where all our UT Extension employees can thrive. Our administrative professionals do an amazing job everyday – all over the state, in each of the 95 counties. We’re pleased UT Extension is being recognized for our commitment to this philosophy of excellence and professional growth.”

“Over the years, UT Extension has implemented strategies to improve the workplace for support staff,” says Neubeck. “This includes a county mentoring program, generous financial support for CAP certification and inclusion in both the 2022 statewide Extension conference and the Tennessee Extension of Joint Board of Associations. Dr. Stokes told us to ‘think bigger’ and that led to the formation of TEAAP – which has built a community and offered professional development for support staff across the state.”

“This is a well-deserved award for Dr. Stokes and UT Extension,” says Cindy Winchester, business manager of the Clyde Work 4-H Center in Crossville. “Dr. Stokes encourages a positive work culture, highlighting the importance of every person in the UT Extension family.”

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

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