Alumni Newsletter: Spring Edition
Alumni Reception & Rural Day Recap
Greetings Alumni,

We want to thank all of you who joined us at the Raleigh Convention Center on March 26 for Rural Day! With 684 enthusiastic North Carolinians from 89 counties across the state in attendance, this was the largest event in the 32 year history of the Rural Center. Our record crowd learned about the big issues facing our state’s rural communities including expansion of accessible high-speed broadband, investment in stronger entrepreneurship and small business development systems, and stabilization and transformation of rural health.

The evening before Rural Day, we welcomed our leadership alumni to the Governor's Mansion for a networking reception. Almost 100 leaders from across the state were in attendance, including the five alumni recipients of our community improvement mini-grants ( read more here ) . W e also honored Dr. Yolanda Burwell for her 25 years of service as a REDI faculty member. Over the years, her gentle spirit and powerful leadership has helped nurture rural leaders across the state. Enjoy your retirement Dr. Yo!


Miles Kirksey
Engagement Coordinator
New Class of Homegrown Leaders
We are proud to welcome 29 new Homegrown Leaders alumni into our Leadership Alumni Network. They completed Homegrown Leaders in Asheville during March 4-6. We are very excited to see what this bright and innovative group is able to accomplish in their communities and look forward to fostering their continued growth.
Now Accepting Applications!
If you know any passionate committed leaders in your community or are a REDI alum looking for a dynamic refresher course in rural leadership, our next class of Homegrown Leaders will take place May 29-31 at Western Carolina University . Homegrown Leaders is a customized three-day rural leadership and economic development training with a regional focus. This training is a residential program, where participants will stay overnight on the WCU campus. Applications are open now to participants in the following counties: Cherokee, Clay, Swain, Graham, Macon, Jackson, and Haywood . Please take the time to share this training with your networks. For more information or to apply, please click here . Apply by May 9, 2019.
Alumni Spotlight: Jack Meadows (REDI 11')
Jack Meadows is the director of planning and community development for the Town of Siler City. Since joining the town in 2002, Meadows has managed an ever-changing development landscape including the town's recent resurgence in business growth. Meadows' innovative leadership skills were instrumental in the creation of the Siler City Development Organization , a local nonprofit dedicated to community enhancement, for which Meadows now serves as president. In addition, Meadows' hard work and dedication on the Love's Creek restoration project led the town being awarded an Urban Conservation Award by the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts earlier this year.

Q: What is your connection to rural NC?
A: I'm originally from Bladen County. Prior to joining the Town of Siler City in 2002, I worked for NC Dept. of Agriculture and a private agriculture consulting agency.
Q: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing rural NC?
A: There is a lack of opportunities in employment and amenities. In addition, rural areas have less representation in the NC House and Senate than urban areas, resulting in fewer resources being allocated to rural communities.
Q: What do you see as some of the greatest assets in rural NC?
A: Rural NC is great because it lacks the traffic congestion of urban areas, there’s little to no crime, the school systems are good, and fresh air is abundant.
Q: As an alumni, what was your biggest take away from REDI?
A: Everybody brings something to the table and can learn from one another.
Q: What does being a leader mean to you?
A: Part of being a leader is identifying resources, opportunities, and best practices to share with partners and the broader community to advance our economic well-being.
Q: What is the best hidden gem in Siler City?
A: Loves Creek Greenway!

Read more about Jack and his role with the Town of Siler City, featured in last week's Chatham News Record ( HERE ).
Alumni in the News
U.S. News
Featuring Rachel Potter (HGL 19')
The Daily Younder
Featuring Leslie Schlender (REDI 10'), Natalie Eidson (REDI 18')
Appalachian Regional Commission Offers New Training Program To Build Long Term Community Capacity (Applications due 6/1)

Vision Northwest North Carolina: Economic Leadership for 2020 and Beyond (Leadership summit)

Bernstein Health Leadership Fellowship (Leadership program)

What Can You Learn About Counties From the American Community Survey? (Data visualization tool)

NC Legacy Tree Fund Grant (Funding opportunity)

Youth Empowered Solutions & Duke Endowment Grassroots Grant (Funding opportunity)
Alumni Survey: We want to hear from you!
*Submit by May 3rd*

In 2019, the Rural Center is committed to developing the capacity and connections of our rural leaders through increased alumni engagement and expanded program offerings. In order to better serve our alumni, we need to hear about what programs you find most beneficial and also your suggestions on the best ways to connect with our alumni network. Below is a link to a brief 5 minute survey. We greatly appreciate any feedback you're able to provide, and look forward to hearing your suggestions!
If you have an upcoming event, interesting story, or information that you would like to share with our alumni network please contact
For more information or to join the conversation:  | @ncruralcenter