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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Welcome Nancy Daniels!

Current Position: Nancy Daniels is the Community Vitality Specialist for Kansas State Research and Extension.

Role as a CECD Member: Daniels is the Extension Liaison to the Center for Engagement and Community Development.

First Became Involved with CECD: Daniels’ love of community development started with her volunteer work. She says it began in college. “I was like most students” said Daniels, “and didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do when I came out of college… it was my volunteer work that really made me get a sense of social justice issues.”

Daniels began her volunteer work with the United Methodist Women. This was an experience she said created connections in the most unique and touching ways. She became the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Topeka in 2006 and a fundraiser brought an unexpected visitor. “Somebody from Kansas City brought a guest, and she gave us our first $1000 gift. That woman, when I met her she had been a district officer with United Methodist Women back in the early 90s. But she was in Kansas City and I was an officer in Topeka. So we had seen each other four times a year and developed a relationship… and she ended up giving us tens of thousands of dollars,” said Daniels.

Daniels also spent ten years working with the political based action group RESULTS. She noted that everyone had a role to play, big or small. One of her proudest achievements came from the program’s beginnings. “When we started the number [of children dying from preventable causes] was 40,000, now it’s 17,000.” said Daniels. “We’re making measurable progress on this. We have 5 billion people who are living on less than one dollar a day and there are solutions for this.”

Daniels also discussed the importance of creating connections, which is also a part of what drew her to CECD. “When we work together, why, magical things can happen,” she said. “That’s what I think CECD does.”

Favorite Part of CECD: The ability to create connections that introduce people to a family of people with shared interests.

“I come from United Way where we were doing community development work,” said Daniels. “It feels to me like CECD is doing very much the same work on a state wide basis… to know that CECD has the ability to basically mobilize this huge family, and all we have to do is tell (everyone) how to help.”

Daniels notes the importance of finding something you care about, focusing on it, and persevering to see everything through. She believes CECD exemplifies just that. “CECD mobilizes deep feelings people have for each other,” said Daniels.

Most Memorable Event: Daniels loves the family aspect of K-State. She came to the university forty years ago, and says returning to K-State feels like she is returning to a family. Her goal in her work is to “find out how we’re related and how we can be related.”

Specifically, Daniels recalls K-State’s 150-year celebration in 2013, when her extended family was named the K-State Family of the Year. “It was kind of a different way of doing it because usually its mother, father and children,” said Daniels. “In our case… we presented them with an extended family. We had four generations coming into K-State. There were 42 of us.”

The connections made at K-State last well beyond graduation. “If you go to Los Angeles for your job and find a K-Stater, never mind that you never knew them at K-State, you will be family,” said Daniels.