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MSU communications head receives top national award
MISSISSIPPI STATE – She is new to Mississippi State University, but her professional track record is well known across the country.
Elizabeth Gregory North, who joined MSU’s Office of Agricultural Communications Feb. 1 as department head, recently received the Professional Award from the Association for Communication Excellence, or ACE. The organization is the international association of communicators, educators and information technologists specializing in agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences.
Faith Peppers, the association’s president and the director of public affairs at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the Professional Award is the premier recognition given to association members.
“The award recognizes excellence and professionalism in a communicator,” Peppers said. “It is based on achievements over an extended time and on participation in and support of ACE.”
Members nominate their peers for the honor. A panel of past Professional Award recipients and presidents of national agricultural communication organizations selects a winner when they consider the nominee’s body of work worthy of the organization’s highest honor.
“Elizabeth Gregory North is being recognized for her valuable body of work in helping brand our work and prove our value to the nation,” Peppers said. “Her involvement in a number of high profile national efforts further attests to her leadership ability and professionalism.”
Gregory North began her career as an assistant publications editor for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service before moving to Texas A&M to work as an Extension communications specialist. Marketing and branding became her areas of expertise.
Peppers said Gregory North made a national splash when she led efforts to create the now highly recognized Texas AgriLife brand, but that her influence stretches far beyond any state borders.
Gregory North worked on branding initiatives for the National 4-H Council, the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the eXtension Cooperatives Community of Practice.
Recently, she has coordinated the development of a national branding campaign for the Extension Service as leader of the national Extension Committee on Organization and Policy’s Communications and Marketing Task Force.
Terry Meisenbach, leader of communication and marketing for eXtension, the national interactive website for Extension Service information, said Gregory North represented her colleagues well in discussions with those who set the national direction of the Extension Service.
“She has stayed the course in promoting the value of branding this organization, bringing her vast skill and expertise in marking and communication to the fore,” Meisenbach said. “And throughout all of this, she has done so with a grace, good humor and gentle manner that speaks volumes about her leadership.”
Elaine Edwards, past president of the Association for Communication Excellence and Coordinator of News Media & Marketing for K-State Research & Extension at Kansas State University, noted Gregory North’s service to the association for the past 20 years includes participation in numerous committees, task forces and a two-year term on the Board of Directors as the Southern regional director. She has received the association’s Outstanding Professional Skill Award multiple times, the ACE Award of Excellence in Marketing, and the ACE Pioneer Early Career Award.
Gregory North’s work in Mississippi is already making a difference in how the Extension Service considers its marketing and branding efforts.
“Elizabeth’s work on the national Extension branding initiative provides practical tools for sharing a unified message about the Extension Service across the country and in Mississippi,” said Gary Jackson, director of MSU’s Extension Service. “Her work will empower Extension employees, volunteers and clients with the knowledge, tools and tactics to become compelling ambassadors for the Extension brand.”