Tess McKinley and Denise Maxa

Our Leadership

Our Executive Director is awarded the 2021 Young Professional Leadership Award from the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce

The Corning Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Tess McKinley, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County, the 2021 Young Professional Leadership Award at a virtual ceremony on November 30th. Tess was among several wonderful nominees for five awards. 

The CCE staff nominated Tess saying she was an excellent candidate for the Young Professional Leadership Award. She exemplifies leadership in our community, they said.

Tess took the helm of our organization in September 2019 and has brought her welcoming and transparent leadership style to create a comfortable, safe, and productive work environment. These same characteristics have helped establish solid working relationships and build confidence in our mission and programing throughout the community. 

Right off the bat in her position, she led us through a difficult pandemic with ease. She leads by example in that she encouraged our staff to all participate in the community by volunteering to help out at COVID 19 vaccine clinics and she endeavored to do at least one a week herself. She communicates clearly with the staff once a week by email of all events, COVID 19 and office updates, and notifications. She meets with all department staff heads monthly and makes herself available at any time for discussion. She has organized presentations from other community organizations for each monthly staff meeting so her staff can be knowledgeable about their surroundings and community resources. She compliments her staff with rewards for a job well done and encourages us to lift each other up. She gets involved with our organization’s work in a very personal way – she is always interested to meet farmers and learn “new to her” aspects of their farming businesses, she is a 4-H parent, and she encourages staff get togethers for holidays, birthdays, and crafts. She even loans out the “barn” at her home for staff parties as well as Rotary meetings during COVID 19 times when restaurants were closed. Tess is a leader that looks forward at all times. She is scouting out grant opportunities to fund our programming or assist in new endeavors. She is skillful at speaking on our organization’s behalf at events and with a variety of community leaders. As a young mother she balances her family life well with her professional life.

Tess lives in Bath just down the street from our organization and she is very involved in her community. She is secretary of the Dormann Library Board of Trustees, President of the Bath Rotary Club for 2022, a board member of the Institute of Human Services, Inc., serves on the Steuben Human Services Committee, is a member of the Steuben County Farm Bureau and the Finger Lakes Farm Country committee. 

She continues to actively learn and be involved in individual aspects of our organization’s many programs. She invests herself thoroughly with any trainings we offer at CCE Steuben such as becoming a Master Money Mentor in our Financial Education Program (10 hours of training) and becoming a Master Gardener in our Agriculture Program (24 hours of training and 100 hours of volunteer give-back time). She was recently selected to the Appalachian Leadership Institute for the 2021-2022 class. Only 40 people in 13 states are selected for this honor and she will be traveling to different parts of the Appalachian area for the seminars in 2022 to train her on how to better support and grow various industries in our region. Tess is committed to her leadership role within the community and shows this every day.

Other awards given out at the ceremony were:

Evolving Business
Card Carrying Books & Gifts

Lifetime Achievement
Nancy Williamson, ServU Credit Union

Community Leadership
Corning Credit Union

Above & Beyond
Darlene Smith & Jack Wheeler, Steuben County

Last updated November 30, 2021