Alumni Newsletter: Summer Issue 2022
Greetings Alumni,

As the Network Engagement Manager for the NC Rural Center, one of my duties is to expand opportunities of advocacy and engagement for the alumni network. I plan to keep you informed by providing pertinent information and other key resources that you can use to advocate on behalf of rural communities all across our state. In this edition of the quarterly newsletter, we have included the latest activities taking place at the NC General Assembly from our NC Rural Center legislative team. If you want to learn more about the NC General Assembly and stay engaged with your elected officials please visit NC General Assembly.

In the coming months, I will be traveling throughout the state to get to know the members of our network. If you would like to schedule a time to meet, virtually or in person, please contact me at or 919-212-4257. In the meantime, if you haven't already, please visit our website NC Rural Center to learn about our latest initiatives and join us on social media Leadership Alumni Network to engage with other alumni members.

Angella Dunston
Network Engagement Manager
Rural Counts Weekly Legislative Update
Dear Advocate,

The General Assembly saw a flurry of bills making their way through committees last week as anticipation grew for the budget adjustment bill. With about a $30 billion spending cap, advocates across the state, including the NC Rural Center, are engaged in efforts to try to lock down funding for their 2022 priorities.

However, the budget process this year is unusual after a record breaking long session wrapped up just a couple of months before short session commenced. This year, instead of each chamber introducing their own budget bill and then heading to conference committee to produce a conference report, the General Assembly is skipping to the conference report. This means once the conference budget bill is released, there will be little chance for amendments, raising the stakes for everyone involved.

With the legislature still aiming to adjourn session by the beginning of July, reports surfaced this week that the budget will be released around Friday, June 17th.

To read the full newsletter, click here.
We hope you enjoyed the Legislative Update included in this edition of the Alumni newsletter. To receive the weekly Legislative Update and all things Rural Counts, subscribe here.
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Background: Since 2016, Rural Counts has been a leading advocacy voice for rural North Carolina at the state level. Rural Counts has a distinct focus on advancing public policy on behalf of rural North Carolinians. The mission of the Rural Counts advocacy program is to research, develop, and advocate for innovative nonpartisan policy solutions to rural North Carolina’s biggest economic development challenges towards improving the outcomes of our state’s rural communities and residents. Rural Counts provides a platform for rural advocates to be heard, connect across differences, and engage with their elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels to affect public policy change.
You're Invited: Alumni Networking Picnic
Please RSVP by Wednesday, July 6.
Sign up at this link to let us know you're coming!
How are North Carolinians getting their news?
Broadband access is essential infrastructure, but North Carolina has a significant digital divide. At least 1.1 million North Carolina households lack access to a broadband connection, cannot afford an internet subscription or do not have an adequate device. Additionally, many lack experience to use digital services like telehealth, online education or job boards.

Selected during the third Google News Initiative North America Innovation Challenge to receive a share of more than $3.2 million to help build ideas that address the need for research in local news, the Carolina Public Press (CPP) project NC Connection: Closing the News Gap, seeks to discover the news needs and distribution preferences of those North Carolinians living beyond the “digital line.”

The nonprofit, investigative newsroom recently launched a survey designed to help evaluate how folks in rural N.C. receive news and what their news needs are. The survey asks respondents to tell CPP about their internet capabilities, use and news consumption. To complete the survey, visit
Alumni News & Updates
Alumni Receive Leadership Awards at NC Rural Summit
The Rural Leader of the Year was awarded to Julie Beck, co-founder of Carolina Pine Consulting, Homegrown Leaders East (2021) alumni, and president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce for the last eight years.
The Excellence in Regional Collaboration was awarded to two winners, Zachary Barricklow and Ed Hunt. Hunt is the KBR Coordinator for The Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub, a business incubator and support resource operated in partnership with UNC-Pembroke, and a REDI (2021) alumnus; and Barricklow is the vice president of Rural Innovation and Organizational Change at Wilkes Community College and executive director of the new nonprofit, NC Tech Paths, and is a Homegrown Leaders West (2019) alumni.
Nick Breedlove Featured in Appalachian Regional Commission Newsletter
Nick (HGL - West 2016, REDI 2014) was recently highlighted in the June Appalachian Regional Commission newsletter as part of their Pride Month Profile, recognizing their LGBTQ+ partners across the Appalachian region. Congratulations, Nick, and thank you for representing rural North Carolina leadership!

You can read the full profile here:

Nick is also featured in the video below for Appalachian Regional Commission's Appalachia Envisioned Roadshow.
Alumni in the News
Roanoke-Chowan News Herald
Featuring Angie Jenkins, Brittany Pierce, Derrick Armstead, Ashley Stoop, and Ikisha Brothers (HGL - East 2022)
Mitchell News-Journal
Featuring Allen Cook (HGL - West 2019)
New Old North
Featuring Scott Satterfield (HGL -East 2021)
The Pilot
Featuring John Parker (REDI 2012)
Neuse News
Featuring Schumata Brown (REDI 2014)
The McDowell News
Featuring Danna Stansbury (HGL - West 2019)
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: | @ncruralcenter