Bridging the Skills Gap: Team

Bridging the Skills Gap Team

Carolyn Hatch | 514-668-4918 |

Carolyn Hatch, grant Principal Investigator, is Regional Development Associate at the Purdue Center for Regional Development where she focuses research and community development efforts on enhancing community resiliency through economic diversification and improved workforce skills.Carolyn has a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Toronto and has presented versions of her work to the Upjohn Institute, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, manufacturing companies, economic and workforce developers, and at national and international academic conferences such as the American Association of Geographers and the Danish Research Unit on Industrial Dynamics (DRUID).


Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel | 308-632-1234 |

Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, grant Co-Principal Investigator, is an Extension Specialist/Professor for the University of Nebraska in the area of Community Vitality and is located in Scottsbluff.  Prior to her current role, Dr. Burkhart-Kriesel was an Extension Educator in North Dakota and Nebraska and a University of Nebraska Learning Center Coordinator.

She believes that having a motivated and skilled rural workforce is critically important in determining a community’s future.   In her current position she focuses research and extension efforts in new resident recruitment/retention, Marketing Hometown America, and in business development, specifically focusing on customer service.


Kenneth Sherin | 605-995-7378 |

Kenneth Sherin is a Community Development Field Specialist for SDSU Extension.  Kenneth received his doctorate in Rural Sociology/Community Development from the University of Missouri in 2012.  Prior to working with SDSU Extension, Kenneth worked with MU Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development program.

Currently, Kenneth coaches communities in the areas of community economic development, new resident recruitment, and community workforce development initiatives.  Kenneth grew up on a family farm in North Carolina, and has two natural resource degrees from North Carolina State University.  When you hear him speak, you know he brings a little bit of the South to South Dakota!


Allan Vyhnalek | 402-563-4901 |

Allan Vyhnalek has spent 28 years in Extension working in both Iowa and Nebraska.  Vyhnalek received his Bachelor and Master Degrees from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in Agricultural Education.  Prior to joining Extension, he taught in high school and post-secondary classrooms for 8 ½ years.

Vyhnalek currently works in the area of farm management and ag economics.  He has a passion for the future of Nebraska and for rural communities.  He enjoys helping groups and communities better understand how generational differences impact how a community functions.


Carroll Welte | 402-374-2954 |

Carroll Welte is a Nebraska Extension Educator based in Burt County. Her programming encompasses leadership, community economic development and youth. She teaches concepts and skills people use to enhance rural communities. Currently she coordinates the Institute of Excellence for the Nebraska Association of County Officials, Leadership Wayne and Leadership Burt County. She and colleagues facilitate Stronger Economies Together in regions with critical workforce issues.

After earning both graduate and undergraduate degrees from UNL in Home Economics, Welte began her extension career in 1988. As a displaced city-girl whose childhood was influenced by industry, Welte brings a different view of rural to the table.


Understanding the Problem
Project Overview
Community Process & Collaboration
Importance of Labor Market Data
Promising Practices
Bridging the Skills Gap Team