Alumni Newsletter: Fall Issue 2022
Greetings, Alumni,

One of the top priorities of the Rural Center team is to provide you, the members of the Leadership Alumni Network (LAN), with information and resources that will support the work you are doing for your communities.  

We are proud to announce a new opportunity in service of that goal. We are partnering with Thread Capital, a subsidiary of the Rural Center, to host regional business information sessions. These meetings will be co-hosted with leading Rural Center business allies from the statewide Thread Capital Business Connectivity Alliance (BCA).

Starting this month, these regional quarterly meetings will provide information and business resources for alumni members and other local regional leaders. Their aim is to convene Homegrown Leaders and REDI alumni, business resource organizations, and local small businesses in each region of North Carolina to network and develop a well-rounded and inclusive business support system. Each meeting will highlight an organization(s), promote resources within the region, discuss barriers to small business success, and identify ways to mitigate them.

Initially, we will host the meetings virtually, but our eventual goal is to have quarterly in-person meetings, preferably patronizing one of our partner's establishments. If you would like to serve as a panelist to share your expertise or as a host site (for in-person meetings), please let us know. 

We hope that you will register for our future meetings and take advantage of the benefit of connecting entrepreneurs and small businesses to resources in your area as we look to help them grow and thrive in your communities. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Angella Dunston
Network Engagement Manager
Faith In Rural Communities Program Expands
The Rural Center's Faith in Rural Communities (FIRC) program, lead by Dr. Heather Kilbourne (REDI 2008), recently received a $3.2 million grant from The Duke Endowment to continue its work in rural communities and expand its programming. With increased resources and the ability to serve more churches and communities, the FIRC team welcomed Darren Crotts (REDI 2019) as its new Program Manager. You can read more about the grant and the FIRC program in this article featured in The Mountaineer.
CONNECT churches gather for a workshop on asset-based community development
Internship Initiative Seeking Potential Host Sites
This year, Golden LEAF launched the Rural Internship Initiative and engaged the NC Rural Center as the program administrator. The Initiative provides Golden LEAF Scholars with professional work experience related to their career field in a rural North Carolina community. Students are able to intern in a wide range of settings, including businesses, governmental entities, and nonprofits. You can click here to learn more about the opportunity. 

Golden LEAF Scholars are responsible for identifying a site to complete their internship. To support this process, Golden LEAF is gathering information from entities interested in hosting an intern next summer (summer 2023). If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, you can complete the form here.

Once you complete the form, we will add your organization to a list of potential sites. This list will be shared with scholars beginning in early fall 2022. If you have any questions, please contact Olaunda Green, Rural Internship Initiative Program Manager, at
The Rural Counts Advocacy team wants to hear from you!
As 2023 quickly approaches, the Rural Counts team is looking ahead to the top policy issues you would like for us to focus on in the coming year. In prioritizing our advocacy work, it is very helpful to hear directly from you about the issues that matter most.

By completing the following survey, you will be entered into a drawing for one (1) FREE ticket to our 2023 Rural Summit in March (~ $200 value). One winner will be selected at random.
Join the ARPA NC Advocacy Academy
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Community Food Strategies, and the NC Budget & Tax Center have teamed up to launch the ARPA NC Advocacy Academy. This is a 22-month program designed to support food councils and community groups in advocating for local government allocations of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) local funds for health-equity-related food system projects.

Selected participating organizations will receive $5,500 to support advocacy campaigns and community organizing around ARPA funding. In addition, each organization will designate two representatives to participate in the Academy - who will in turn receive a $1,250 stipend for time and travel.

If you or someone in your network is a food council, organization, or nonprofit/community group working on food systems in your community, you are eligible to apply! An open house info session will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20th from 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm for interested parties. Click the link below to learn more and apply.
Rural Center Welcomes
Newest Homegrown Leaders Alumni
We are proud to welcome 47 new Homegrown Leaders into our Leadership Alumni Network (LAN) from the following counties in Eastern North Carolina: Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, New Hanover, Pender, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland. These graduates completed the Rural Center's final two Homegrown Leaders East trainings in Elizabeth City (May 24-26) and in Lumberton (June 21-23). We are excited to see what these bright leaders accomplish in their communities and look forward to a continued partnership.
Alumni News & Updates
Alumni Honored by the North Carolina Coastal Federation
Angie Wills (REDI 2017) was the recipient of a 2022 Pelican Award from the North Carolina Coastal Federation for her leadership and dedication to coastal protection, outreach, and engagement in the northeast. Congratulations, Angie!
Sara J. Hallas, Coastal Education Coordinator, presents the award to Angie Wills at the 2022 Pelican Awards and Taste of the Coast on August 6th.
Alumni in the News
Chowan Herald

Featuring Patricia Jordan and Emily Bryant (HGL - East 2022)

Featuring Niki Alston (REDI 2019)

Featuring Laura Neely (HGL - Wilkes 2019)
The Daily Advance

Featuring Ashley Stoop (HGL - East 2022)
Partner Events & Resources
If you have an upcoming event, noteworthy news, or other information that you would like to share with your Leadership Alumni Network, please contact Emily Holder, program associate, at
For more information or to join the conversation: