Janet Ayres is a professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. As a sociologist, her work focuses on building the capacity of rural leaders, and state and federal professionals who work in rural areas, to address community change, create a strategic direction, manage conflict and build leadership for local decision making and action. She has developed nearly 30 state, multi-state, and national leadership development programs, including initiaties in Poland and Russia. Over 100,000 people have participated in her programs and thousands of others have been reached by those she has trained.
Janet teaches a senior-level undergraduate course that examines the interface between change, conflict, public policy and leadership related to controversial issues in agriculture. She led a multi-state student leadership academy which produced 14 learning modules and co-led the development of the Purdue College of Agriculture Leadership Development Certificate program for undergraduate students. These programs and materials have been used by colleges and universities across the country.
Janet's current research interests lie in the area of rural change, residents' attitudes toward agriculture and controversial issues, and collaborative processes that bring people together to establish communication, build relationships, manage conflict, and create innovative ways to move forward.
Janet received her B.A. in sociology and design from Purdue University in 1973; Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University in 1975; and Ph.D. in Sociology from Purdue in 1981. She worked as a Certified Land Use Planner prior to coming to Purdue iin 1977.