Prepared by Daniela Mattos
My name is Daniela Mattos and I currently serve as a CDS Board member. I am also a Professor of Practice and Director of the Rural Economic and Community Vitality Program at the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I received my PhD in Community Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Sao Paulo, Piracicaba. I also hold a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Sao Paulo.
I was born and raised in a small farming community in the southeast part of Brazil. Growing up there gave me the opportunity to experience and value all the nuances of rural life. As a child I enjoyed the freedom, slow-pace, and safety provided by my community. But then came the “progress”! I witnessed the fast transformation of farms primarily dedicated to growing several products for local and regional consumption (rice, beans, corn, coffee, cattle, etc.) to highly specialized, mechanized, and competitive commodity farming, and more recently their turn to the intensive production of sugarcane to feed the large ethanol and sugar plants surrounding my hometown. Being part of this change launched my interest in rural communities and the economic/social challenges and opportunities they face as a consequence of “progress”. Since 2006, my work has focused on developing better strategies to revitalize rural communities and economies and declining cities and towns through more effective decision-making approaches and fostering strategies for improving citizen participation to address local issues.
In 2014, I was hired by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to teach courses related to Community Economic Development and develop an online certificate in Rural Economic and Community Vitality (pending final approval). I also teach in the Great Plains IDEA- Community Development Masters’ Program. In general my courses provide students with a firm grounding in the reality of the local/regional economy necessary for successful programs in community economic development and for designing effective local and regional policy and programming in economic development.
I joined CDS because I believe it is the best way for me to get involved with the things that I am passionate about and meet other people with the same passion. I enjoy meeting and learning from experts in the field and CDS provides different ways to access and interact with fellow members from all walks of life and places. I am excited to work with all members of CDS to honor the past work of our members and prepare for future challenges and opportunities in the field of community development.