Alumni Newsletter: Holiday Edition
Dear friends, 
As we enter the holiday season and start a new year, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for all you do for rural communities across North Carolina, and for your ongoing, invaluable partnership to all of us at the Rural Center.
This year has been a heavy lift and has consisted of many trials and tribulations for us individually, and for the communities we love and serve. It has shined a bright light on the many challenges our communities face like broadband and technology access, healthcare infrastructure needs, small-business support, and the importance of creative and adaptive leadership. However, I’m hopeful that with the magnification of these challenges and the renewed energy behind addressing them, we will ultimately see positive change in the near future. I am excited for the work we will do together, as we all commit to raise our voices and strive for increased access to opportunity and the betterment of our communities. Thank you for leading with grace and intention and exhibiting what authentic leadership and service means.
From all of us at the Rural Center, we wish you and your loved ones a healthy, safe, and joyous holiday season. 
Warm regards,
Bronwyn Lucas
Senior Director of Leadership and Engagement
Since 1989, the Rural Center has recognized the vital importance of highly engaged, innovative, and skilled leaders to the success of our state's rural areas. Between the Rural Economic Development Institute (REDI) and Homegrown Leaders, the Center has trained more than 1,300 rural leaders in all 100 counties across the state, and we are committed to continuing this mission for many years to come. 
2020 has been a challenging and trying year for all of us, but we continue to be inspired by the unwavering commitment of all of you to ignite positive change in your communities and regions. In honor of our more than 1,300 alumni, we are excited to host a celebratory virtual event on January 27, 2021, to commemorate 30 years of rural leaders! We believe there’s no better way to kick off 2021 than a gathering and celebration of innovative, rural leaders who strive daily to create a bright future in the places they call home. As a part of the celebration, we will highlight success stories, offer a space to connect with fellow classmates, and have a few other surprises in store! 
Register today! And if you can’t join us, please consider making a donation to the scholarship fund here.
Rural Center Welcomes Newest Homegrown Leaders Alumni!
Pictured: Members of the Rural Center's first Homegrown Leaders Virtual Class in Eastern NC
We are proud to welcome 32 new Homegrown Leaders into our Leadership Alumni Network from the following counties in Eastern North Carolina: Edgecombe, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson! These graduates completed the Rural Center's first virtual Homegrown Leaders training on November 18-20, 2021. We are very excited to see what these bright leaders accomplish in their communities and look forward to a continued partnership.
If you know any passionate, committed leaders in your community or a REDI alumnus looking for a dynamic refresher course in rural leadership, our next Homegrown Leaders training takes place on February 24-26, 2021. Homegrown Leaders is a customized, virtual (during the pandemic) three-day rural leadership and economic development training with a regional focus.

Applications are open now to participants in the following counties: Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Onslow, Sampson, and Wayne Counties. Please take the time to share this training with your networks. For more information or to apply, please visit the link belowApply by January 15, 2021.
In Case You Missed It: Building on Higher Ground
With generous support from the American Red Cross, and in partnership with the North Carolina Office of Recovery & Resiliency, the NC Rural Center hosted a series of webinars throughout October on community resilience and natural disasters. Below are links to each session's recording along with resources and materials.
  • Session Speaker: Dr. Kathie Dello, State Climatologist, and Director of the State Climate Office at NC State University

  • Session Speakers: Dr. Jessica Whitehead, Chief Resilience Officer, NC Office of Recovery & Resiliency & Mr. Kim Colson, Director of the Division of Water Infrastructure, NC Department of Environmental Quality

  • Session Speakers: Mr. Jason Gray, Senior Fellow for Research & Policy, NC Rural Center & Dr. John Cooper, Assistant Vice President for Public Partnership & Outreach, Texas A&M University

  • Panelists: Ms. Karen Amspacher, Executive Director, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, Ms. Alice Schenall, Director, Quality Improvement, Rural Health Group, Dr. Robin Tutor-Marcom, Director, NC AgroMedicine Institute
Alumni News & Updates
REDI Alumnae Co-authors Community Development Toolkit
Pictured: Mary Snow, Equitable Community Strategies, and Paula Swepson, West Marion Community Forum have co-authored 'Shift Happens In Community: A Toolkit to Build Power and Ignite Change.
“While there is no one size fits all approach to rural communities, this toolkit establishes a framework for engagement capable of transcending geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic barriers. Whether you’re an emerging or seasoned leader, you can learn something from the lessons and tools established by the work of the West Marion Community Forum.” 
Patrick Woodie, President, NC Rural Center 
Alumni in the News
Davie County Enterprise Record
Featuring David Bone (REDI 2006)
Mountain Xpress
Featuring Terri Wells (HGL - West 19')
The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald
Featuring Carol Shields (REDI 2006)
Caswell Messenger
Featuring Patrick Woodie (REDI 1995)
Center for Environmental Farming Systems
Written by Laura Lauffer (HGL 2019)
Partner Events & Resources
NC DEQ announces 2021 Community Waste Reduction and Recycling Grant Program (Deadline - February 18, 2021)
$25,000 Dire States Equipment Grant (Deadline - December 31, 2020)
Carolina Tracker: A Resource for Recovery by UNC School of Government
UNC SOG - Keys to Economic Recovery from COVID-19 Webinar (January 27, 2021)
NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund 2021 Grant (Deadline - May 3, 2021)
If you have an upcoming event, noteworthy news, or other information that you would like to share with your leadership alumni network, please contact Bronwyn Lucas, Senior Director of Leadership and Engagement, at
For more information or to join the conversation: | @ncruralcenter