Who We Are

Who We Are

The MAPPING program was created in 1991 at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, located at Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois. With initial support from the Office of the Lt. Governor and the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, the MAPPING program was designed to help leaders in small rural communities improve their decision-making process for community and economic development. Since 1996, the support for this program has been transferred to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.


Gisele Hamm, Program Manager

Gisele earned a B.S. in Agricultural Business and a M.A. in Economics from Western Illinois University. She joined the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs in 2003 to manage a study of brownfields in Illinois municipalities. Gisele manages the IIRA AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, as well as other technical assistance grant projects. Previously, she worked as a rural technology specialist in the Rural Information Planning Project (RITPP). She has published several articles in national and state outlets on various community development issues and has made numerous presentations to state and national conventions.

Linda Lee Blaine, Community and Economic Development Outreach Specialist

Linda Lee, a Washington State native, earned a B.A. in Spanish from Central Washington University in 1998. She also graduated from the William O’Douglas Honors College. She received an MBA through the Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development from Western Illinois University in 2004. Prior to coming to the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Linda Lee worked as a Community and Economic Development Program Coordinator for the University of Illinois Extension. Linda Lee has experience in grant writing and administration, project development and management, as well as marketing and communication.