Amy Jo Clemens

Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for P-20 Engagement

Amy Jo Clemens

What year did you start working at NIU?
January 2016

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Dixon, Illinois, where I currently live.

In what department do you work?
Center for P-20 Engagement

What is your job title?
Assistant vice president and director of the Center for P-20 Engagement

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?

  • B.A. in chemistry, Ripon College
  • M.S.Ed. in secondary education, NIU
  • Ed.S. in superintendent licensure, NIU
  • Ed.D. in educational administration, NIU

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
I administer programs that our awesome staff deliver to the NIU and DeKalb communities and across the state. Programs like NIU STEAM, the P-20 Network, Illinois Migrant Education Services, Continuing and Professional Education and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. I have been able to work on the new NIU Edible Campus project and other community engagement initiatives. 

What do you like about working at NIU?
I love that NIU truly embraces its vision of being inclusive for all people. All our students and staff put people first. Providing great educational, social and personal experiences for everyone goes hand in hand with engaging with the community. 

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Keep going—achieving a degree is worth it. And then…keep learning. NIU can become your "go to" each time you need to upskill or expand your portfolio and just diversify your thinking. It was for me. 

What is important for students to know about the office/department that you work in? What student services does your office provide?
We provide community engagement connections through projects. Some of our student involvement is volunteering at our events and some is student worker positions and graduate assistantships. For example, one of our programs brings DeKalb middle school students to campus every day. Our NIU student workers mentor them and work with them on projects. Another project, STEM Fest, involves the whole campus in a one-day celebration of all things STEM for about 4,000 community members. 

In what ways do you see your colleagues help student success?
As an administrator, I just make the magic happen behind the scenes. Our projects' successes are due 100% to my awesome staff and the ways they commit to making a difference every day. 

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I was a graduate assistant in Grant South when I decided to get my master’s in secondary education and teach. I met my husband in the parking lot because he was the other graduate assistant. We were moving into the apartments in the hall, and I knew he liked me when he flirted with me during a fire drill! We've been married 33 years and have 3 grown children (and both work in the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development)! 

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
I am most proud of securing grants that support our programming. It is a rewarding feeling to know that external funders believe in your programs and are willing to fund you!

What fulfills you personally and professionally?
I really like to problem-solve. If there is a project that is floundering in some way, I like to dig in and see what can be done to fix it. I also like to make connections between experts—folks who don't even know about each other but are both doing amazing things. 

Which of NIU’s core values align with your own?
Curiosity and creativity: We can accomplish so much learning when we have students curious as to why, what, how or when. Diversity and equity: I have been focused on breaking down barriers to educational attainment for many years. I ran alternative schools in my previous job, funded alternative educational projects and advocated for struggling students for years. NIU's focus on diversity, equity and inclusion includes a commitment to breaking down those barriers, and I would like to see that go even further in faculty and staff development along with student experience. 

Have you contributed to any NIU Foundation fundraising campaigns such as the Day of Giving or Huskies United? If yes, why did you decided to support NIU?
Huskies United—because I believe in NIU and the NIU Foundation is an important partner in our mission. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
As far as my career, I didn't think much about it. I wanted to be a mom. So, I have three awesome kids and this career thing happened along the way. Seriously, I was always teaching my siblings and neighborhood kids, so being an educator was a good fit. 

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I like to garden, read and travel to Mexico whenever I can get away!

Do you have any hobbies or interesting personal pursuits you're involved with in your spare time?
Not really—someday I hope to have grandchildren, but that is out of my hands. I love a good road trip, so now I just try to travel whenever I can. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I think the most interesting thing about me and NIU is that I came "home" to go back to school in 1986 with a chemistry degree and met my husband and really never left. I kept coming back to school for more degrees and then ended up working here since 2016. My husband hasn't really ever left NIU either. He was an undergraduate then graduate student and worked in the College of Education for 15 years before coming to OERD. We are both Huskies! 

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