Elaine Lee Selected as First CAHNR Leadership Fellow

In this role, Lee provides leadership to advance CAHNR's Strategic Vision

Smiling woman outside

Elaine Lee serves as CAHNR's first Leadership Fellow (Christie Wang/UConn Photo)

Elaine Lee ‘02, ’05 MA, ’09 PhD (CAHNR) is the first Leadership Fellow for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). In this new role, she is leading CAHNR’s Strategic Vision Implementation Committees.

“Dr. Lee is working with the Strategic Vision Implementation Committees (SVICs) to provide overarching leadership, ensure coordination among SVICs, and implement CAHNR’s strategic vision. We are pleased to have her expertise and leadership as we collectively work towards CAHNR’s future,” says Dean Indrajeet Chaubey.

The CAHNR strategic vision process launched in the fall of 2019. It included listening sessions, interviews, and over 10,000 data points, resulting in four initiatives that expanded to five after further discussion. CAHNR’s strategic initiatives include,

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
  • Fostering sustainable landscapes at the urban-rural interface

Co-chairs lead each SVIC with a group of faculty and staff dedicated to implementation. SVIC sub-groups help address the range of topics in each area. Lee provides leadership to support the co-chairs and their respective sub-committees. This helps maintain momentum among the SVICs, and was a role that Mike O’Neill, former senior associate dean for extension and diversity, held before his retirement in late 2022.

There is also the opportunity to collaborate across SVICs. In her new role, Lee ensures coordination and collaboration in these areas, while also facilitating the outcomes identified in the original vision and as implementation continues.

“Our strategic vision implementation offers solutions for issues we’re facing on the local, national, and global levels, as well as the collective impact of the research, teaching, and Extension work in CAHNR. I am thrilled to be in a position to drive collaboration and action from ideas,” says Lee.

Lee received all three of her degrees at UConn, with her dissertation on acute exercise and environmental stress and recovery in the Department of Kinesiology. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory before joining the UConn faculty in the Department of Kinesiology in 2012.

At UConn, Lee is the director of the Human Performance Laboratory and Research Support in the Department of Kinesiology. Her leadership efforts bolster interdisciplinary research that impacts human health, performance, recovery/rehabilitation, and safety in physical activity and sport. In addition to internationally recognized scholarship, through her lab and work with department colleagues, Lee is dedicated to mentoring and training young scholars and scientists, facilitating novel, global collaborative networks, and engaging with communities to impact positive social change.

One of Lee’s early impacts as Leadership Fellow took place in January when CAHNR hosted a workshop to accelerate the spring 2023 work of the SVICs. Dozens of CAHNR staff and faculty joined to further map out next steps in the implementation of the College’s strategic vision.

Prioritized outcomes for this semester include increasing residents’ knowledge and awareness about climate adaptation; creating and fostering inclusive learning environments; improving water quality in the state and Long Island Sound; increasing health and well-being for residents; and expanding production and consumption of locally grown foods. The SVICs and their subcommittees have identified goals and objectives working towards each of these outcomes, among others.

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