Meet your neighbor: Doris Littrell

By STEVEN SPARKMAN
neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Doris Littrell is a Timberhill Road resident and community development consultant. STEVEN SPARKMAN/Missourian

Doris Littrell values your education. The long-time resident of Timberhill Road got her first degree at age 40 and later spent much of her career helping other nontraditional students get their degrees. She spent 10 years as the director of MU Direct: Continuing and Distance Education. She even dedicated a portion of the proceeds from her book to an adult education scholarship at MU.

“One of my passions is in encouraging adult students to go on and pursue their dreams,” she said.

She pursued hers and earned her Ph.D. in education in 1989.

She also values your community. Littrell has worked in community development since the 1980s, and her husband, Don, worked in and taught community development at MU. The couple worked together as teachers and consultants, and they even published a book together, “Practicing Community Development.”

“My definition of community development is helping people in a community decide what they want their community to be in the future and learn to work together to make it happen,” she said.

After she and her husband retired, they became active in the Together for Hope program. The program seeks to alleviate poverty in the 20 poorest counties in the U.S. She believes in the ability of people in a community to tap into its own resourcefulness and hopes that her work helps communities accomplish that task.

“They’re good people, and they want to do good, but they don’t have a clue how to do it,” she said.

Littrell helped develop the MU Community Development Academy, which provides intensive courses in the theories and skills behind community development work. Another portion of the proceeds from her book goes to support the Littrell-Timmons Fund, which provides scholarships for people attending the program.

Her work has taken her around the world. Her family attended community development conferences around the U.S. for many of their vacations. They moved to Washington, D.C., in 1976 when her husband took a one-year job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Littrell made herself a fixture at the Smithsonian Institute and the National Museum. She has also been to Thailand on several occasions, China, Kenya and much of Europe. She believes diverse experiences can affect your life in ways you can’t predict.

“You never know how your experiences will add to your situation years later,” she said.

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Filed under Columbia-Boone County, Woodridge—Shepard

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