Alumni Newsletter: ( end of ) Summer Edition
Leadership Alumni Network Reaches 1,300!!!
REDI XXIX (Pictured Left to Right): Steve Keen, Tina Parker, Niki Alston, Bronwyn Lucas, Christy Agner, Jarrod Davis, Savannah Heath, James Barrett, Toronya Ezell, Michael Boaz, Jenny Grant, Susan Crow, Darris Sawyer, Stacey Kerney, Shannon Cambra, Joyce Holloway, Timothy Randall, Amanda Hodges, Sholanthe Gordon, L.B. Prevette, Cara Dunn, Darren Crotts, Chalis Henderson, Latoya Beatty, David Garrett, Devoria Berry, Cindy Poindexter, Tina Watson, Paula Benson, Cornell Watson, and Susan Rockel.
Homegrown Leaders - Cullowhee: Left to Right (front row): Mark Mollitor, Brownyn Lucas, Linda Lamp, Laura Grindstaff, Sara-Jane Melton, Regina Mathis, Deneen Gill, Laura Lauffer, Kaye McConell, Kellie Dulla, Dede Adote, Misty Herget, Sarah Thompson, Dr. Yolanda Burwell. (back row): Angela Dills, Hunter Goosman, Whit Whitmire, Rusty May, Doris Johnson, Ann Bass, and Arthur Salido
Greetings Alumni,

It's been a busy summer for the NC Rural Center, and for many of our leadership alumni as well. This June, with the completion of REDI XXIX and Homegrown Leaders - Cullowhee, we welcomed 47 new members to our Leadership Alumni Network. We thank you for investing in us, and we are proud to say since REDI's inaugural class in 1989, our alumni network has grown to over 1,300 strong across the state!!!

With such a large and diverse network spreading across all of North Carolina's 100 counties, our Leadership Alumni Network has become one of the strongest assets to the work of the NC Rural Center. We appreciate your continued support and remain committed to better serving your organizations and communities.

Please take an opportunity to review our upcoming Alumni Connect series below. The Rural Center's leadership team plans to offer more of these events over the next several months and we hope to see you in your area soon!


Miles Kirksey
Engagement Coordinator
Announcing Alumni Connect Series
We kicked off our Alumni Connect series this summer with 'Fostering Latinx Engagement Through Community Partnerships', a workshop presented in partnership with AMEXCAN. Over thirty alumni and partners joined us for this engaging discussion around best practices and resources in Latinx engagement, led by Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, executive director of AMEXCAN and Rural Center Board Member.

Moving forward the Rural Center's leadership team is committed to offering valuable professional development and peer networking opportunities for our Alumni across the state. Please save the dates below, and stay tuned for events near you!
September 17, 2019 - Dunn, NC (Sampson County)
11:00 am - 2:00 pm | Commwell Health (3331 East St.)
Lessons in Leadership: Creating a Culture of Innovation
featuring CommWell Health CEO, Pam Tripp

October, TBD - Elkin, NC (Surry County)
Reclaiming the Rural Narrative: Fostering a Community-Based Economy

Rural Assembly
November 21, 2019 - Raleigh, NC
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm | Kings Bow l - North Hills
Rural Assembly: Alumni Bowling & Beverages
Alumni Spotlight: Schumata Brown (REDI XXIV)
Schumata Brown currently serves as town manager for the Town of Maysville in Jones County. Since joining the town in 2016, Brown has played an integral role in implementing several cost-saving measures that have placed Maysville on a brighter track for recovery and future development ( read more ). Brown's dedicated leadership skills were acknowledged during this year's class of Leadership North Carolina (LNC) , where he was selected by his peers to receive the Stanley Frank Class Award. This award is presented each year to a participant of LNC whose demonstrated leadership has made a significant improvement to the quality of life, economic well-being, and sense of community in our state. 

Q: What is your connection to rural NC?
A: I was born and raised in Maysville, NC and have never had the desire to take my talents to any urban areas in the state. I feel strongly that we as public servants have to find creative ways to retain individuals that are willing to serve in rural NC.
Q: What do you see as some of the greatest assets in rural NC?
A: I always love it when someone asks this question, and I always have one simple answer: “the people”. If it weren’t for the great people in rural NC, we wouldn’t have the communities - and other great assets like beaches, parks, and businesses we have today.
Q: As an alumni, what was your biggest take away from REDI?
A: The networking opportunities, the friendships I created, and the knowledge I received on economic development - especially the 4 building blocks.
Q: What does being a leader mean to you?
A: Being a leader means that I’m responsible for inspiring and serving others and for influencing others to join me in reaching common goals. But, most importantly, being a leader means listening to those that choose to follow me. 

Q: What gives you the greatest pride in your work?
A: Being able to serve the people and town where I grew up and call home means a lot. That connection makes every issue and problem-solving decision personal.
Q: What is the best hidden gem in Maysville?
A: We have several hidden gems here - the lakes, the Croatan Forest, Jimmy Weinert Training Facility, Meadows Farm & Venue, and Croatan Coffee. However, Frost Park is the best hidden gem of all. People can’t believe how awesome our park is in a rural town like Maysville.

Read more about Schumata and his Stanley Frank Class Award ( here ).
Dogwood Health Trust Appoints REDI Alumnae to Board
The newly formed Dogwood Health Trust has appointed two REDI alumnae to serve on its now 14 - member Board of Directors. The foundation announced in July that REDI alumna and current Rural Center board member, Sarah Thompson (REDI XXV) will serve alongside previously appointed Dawna Goode-Ledbetter (REDI XXVIII). The Dogwood Health Trust is a grant-making foundation created following the sale of the nonprofit Mission Health System. Once fully operational, Dogwood plans to spend over $70 million annually to fund initiatives with a focus on dramatically improving the health and well-being of the people and communities in 18 counties across Western North Carolina.

We are very excited to see what the future holds for the Dogwood Health Trust, and are proud to have both Sarah and Dawna's strong leadership voices on the board. Read more about about these alumna ( Thompson ) and ( Goode-Ledbetter ).
REDI Alumna Elected President of EDA
This past July members of the North Carolina Economic Development Association (EDA) elected REDI XV alumna and current Appalachian State University MPA Program Director, Dr. Patricia Mitchell, to serve as their president for the 2019-2020 term.

Having previously served as vice president of NCEDA, Dr. Mitchell brings a wealth of economic development experience to her role as president. Mitchell joined ASU’s Department of Government and Justice Studies in January 2017 after spending three years as assistant secretary for rural economic development at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She also previously served nine years as director of economic development in Ashe County, including two as county manager.

Read more about Dr. Mitchell's appointment ( here ). Also, be sure to check out her thoughts on the importance of rural development and blending classroom learning with hands-on practice in her appearance on the Institute for Emerging Issues - First in Future Podcast, linked in the photo above.
Alumni in the News
Neuse News
Featuring Eldridge Paige (REDI XXVI)
The McDowell News
Featuring Freddie Killough (REDI XVII)
Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Featuring Randolph Keaton (REDI XXVI), Noran Sanford (REDI XXVI), and Henry Crews (REDI XXVII)
Chatham News Record
Featuring Bryan Thompson (REDI XVIII)
The Courier Tribune
Featuring Kevin Franklin (REDI XXI)
Events & Resources
Appalachia Strong - An Appalachian Regional Commission Summit (September 4-6, 2019)

Energizing Rural NC - EDPNC 2019 Conference (October 8-9 2019)

2019 Outdoor Economy Conference (October 10, 2019)

IEI: ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity Forum (October 15, 2019)

Announcing Waypoint Accelerator - Outdoor Entrepreneurship and Innovation Accelerator Program

'Creating Great Local Government Workplaces' (Training Opportunity - October 17, 2019)

The Rural Women's Summit (Leadership Development - October 27-29, 2019)

NC IDEA Fall 2019 Grant Info Sessions (Learn about NC IDEA Micro and Seed grant programs for entrepreneurs)

Save the Date: North Carolina Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Summit
Connect with our Alumni Network Online
We highly recommend adding your REDI and Homegrown Leaders certification to your LinkedIn Page. According to LinkedIn, users with advanced certifications receive up to 6X more profile views. Click here   for instructions on how to add your certification and begin growing your network today.

Also, please join our private  Leadership Alumni Network group on Facebook. This group is a great way to connect with fellow alumni, share news and events, and stay up to date on the latest happenings.
If you have an upcoming event, noteworthy news, or other information that you would like to share with your leadership alumni network please contact Miles Kirksey, engagement coordinator, at or 919.250.4314
For more information or to join the conversation:  | @ncruralcenter