University of Georgia Associate Dean for Cooperative Extension Laura Perry Johnson announced this week that Mike Stewart has been named the new district Extension director for Southwest District.
“Mike is new to Extension and UGA but brings a wealth of management experience and leadership skills as well as immense understanding of/insight into county governments,” Johnson said. “We look forward to working with him as the newest member of the Georgia Extension administrative team.”
Stewart has served as county manager and administrator in multiple counties throughout Georgia, including Colquitt, Ware, Lowndes and Liberty. He also served as the assistant director for county services with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for almost 12 years.
Prior to joining UGA Extension, Stewart was serving as interim city manager in Grantville, Georgia.
Stewart was also instrumental in helping to establish local governments overseas in conflict environments, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as the governance section chief at the Diyala Provincial Reconstruction Team in Diyala, Iraq, for two years. He also led U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts in the development of the Afghan Public Protection Force in Afghanistan and recently returned from another trip to Iraq to provide assistance to the many internally displaced people in the northern region of that country.
Though Stewart has no prior Extension experience, he embraces this new career move with excitement and confidence.
“I can’t say enough about the consideration that was given to me for the position. I just hope I can work hard and fulfill the expectations,” Stewart said. “My approach is to build a team effort, to maintain continuous outreach, to search for and find solutions to problems. I want to become a partner with the community, the staff, the local governments and provide every resource available at the disposal of the university system to our communities.”
University of Georgia Extension is a county, state and federally funded organization that offers learning opportunities through unbiased, research-based information on agriculture, the environment, and youth and family development. Stewart will lead work in the 41 counties that comprise UGA Extension’s Southwest District—Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Grady, Houston, Irwin, Lanier, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Peach, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Taylor, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Webster, Wilcox and Worth.
“That’s a tremendous responsibility because, at the end of the day, it’s people. That’s why I’m in public service, because I enjoy working with people. I enjoy making a difference, and I enjoy helping people. Physically, it’s going to be impossible to be every place at one time, but I’m going to do my best to do that,” Stewart said.
Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in community planning and development from Columbus State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Valdosta State University.
Stewart’s office will be located in the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.