By Julene Reese
Heidi LeBlanc has been named the new director for Utah State University Extension’s Home and Community Department. She replaces Margie Memmott, who recently retired after nearly 40 years of service to USU Extension.
She will continue her work as director of Create Better Health and the Hunger Solutions Institute with additional assistance.
LeBlanc has worked for USU Extension for nearly 24 years, most recently with Create Better Health (SNAP-Ed), formerly known as Food $ense, which offers classes to expand participants’ knowledge of nutrition, budgeting, cooking, food safety and physical activity. Prior to that, she was a San Juan County faculty member for seven years.
LeBlanc developed the Hunger Solutions Institute in 2018 after learning about a similar program at Auburn State University in 2014.
“Food and nutrition security work is an important topic both statewide and nationally,” she said. “Through the Hunger Solutions Institute, we work together to collaborate on efforts to reduce and solve food and nutrition insecurity, and we look for ways to create healthy food access opportunities for families in need. Extension is key to solving hunger and increasing that healthy access. Create Better Health (SNAP-Ed) has infrastructure through Extension, where county faculty supervise and support Create Better Health ambassadors who provide local expertise on educating people and influencing change that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.”
LeBlanc said she is grateful to receive this appointment in an organization for which she has such passion.
“I grew up in Extension,” she said. “My mother, Diane Reese, was a faculty member in Sevier County, then was a regional director for 22 years. I saw what she did for Extension and the challenges and enjoyment she had in her role. In a way, I feel like I’m following in her footsteps, and I am honored to get to do that.”
Ken White, USU Extension vice president, said a national search was conducted to fill the position.
“We are excited our committee was able to find someone within our own system,” he said. “Through the process, it became clear that Heidi was head and shoulders above the other candidates. She is an excellent leader, innovator, she thinks outside the box, and we are pleased that she will bring these skills to lead our Home and Community Department. She has a proven track record with the many impacts she has made with the Create Better Health program, the Hunger Solutions Institute, and Farmers Feeding Utah.”
LeBlanc said her vision for the department is to follow the historical value Extension provides to families, individuals and communities.
“I look forward to learning about and championing our many home and community programs and faculty,” she said. “Our department is essential in responding to the ever-changing, critical issues Utahns face. I know we can continue to be innovative and relevant in today’s world. I want to help faculty be successful by providing the resources they need and supporting the work they do for our communities and people throughout the state. Improving lives is our Extension motto, and I will do everything I can to support that.”
LeBlanc holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences education and a master’s in human environments with emphasis in family and consumer sciences education, both from USU. She is married to Joel LeBlanc and they have two children, a daughter-in-law and a grandchild on the way.