Harms named next director of Nebraska LEAD Program

Lincoln, Neb. April 26, 2024 — Kurtis Harms, an experienced agricultural industry leader and communicator, has been selected as the next director of the Nebraska LEAD Program.H arms will begin his appointment June 1. He succeeds Terry Hejny, who is retiring after serving 17 years as the program’s director.

LEAD is a leadership development program for adults tailored toward preparing the next generation of agricultural leaders in Nebraska. The program, founded more than 42 years ago, has prepared hundreds of leaders who have held local, county and statewide office. The Nebraska LEAD Program is housed within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“The LEAD Program has a very strong foundation, and LEAD fellows have had an incredible impact on Nebraska,” said Harms, who took part in the 40th class of the program. “I’m excited to continue that legacy.”

Harms is interested in pursuing avenues to connect LEAD to younger Nebraskans through partnerships with 4-H, FFA and other youth leadership development programs. He is also interested in expanding opportunities for graduates of LEAD to remain involved and engaged.

“I think there is an opportunity to connect the dots before and after the Nebraska LEAD Program,” he said.

For the past two years, Harms has served as the director of marketing for Pillen Family Farms and DNA Genetics, overseeing marketing strategy, internal and external communications for both entities. Prior to that, he served as the director of communications for the Nebraska Corn Board. Before that, he spent 10 years with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as the executive director of Market Journal, UNL’s weekly agricultural television program.

He has also taught courses for students in UNL’s Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communications program.

“Kurtis has spent his entire career advocating for Nebraska agriculture, its future and, most importantly, its people,” said Mike Boehm NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for IANR. “He brings energy, fresh ideas and incredible passion to this position, and I am confident LEAD will flourish under his leadership.”

The Nebraska LEAD Program is currently accepting applications for its 43rd class. The application deadline is June 15. To learn more about Nebraska LEAD or apply, visit LEAD.unl.edu.