Developing Rural Leaders​

RDI’s flagship program provides a foundation to grow vital communities by training a critical mass of connected leaders.  Program participants learn to identify community needs, work together to identify priorities, and ensure community projects are implemented.

Rural Development Initiatives’ proven Rural Community Leadership program builds collaboration, collective action, and fundamental skills; connecting a critical mass of emerging and existing local leaders.

In rural communities we understand that leadership is not a position, it’s an activity! Anyone has the opportunity to grow the skills to be a leader. RDI’s Rural Community Leadership Program (RCLP) connects rural Pacific Northwest residents to each other and to efforts and organizations in their communities. It does so in ways that encourage involvement, collaboration, and collective action while building fundamental skills –  and promoting vitality in rural places. 

Our leadership training is based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from:

  • A broad base of diverse, knowledgeable, skilled, and connected local leaders
  • Effective organizations
  • Productive collaborations among all voices in a community

Each cohort consists of a diverse mix of existing and emerging leaders. An ideal candidate is someone who is looking to…

  • Make a Difference: Those who have desire to serve their rural community
  • Expand Skills: Those who are working toward cultivating and expanding their leadership skills to advance within their school or personal lives
  • Get Connected: Those who would like to get connected to others outside of their present circles 

Over the past 2 years community involvement has decreased by 66% and demands are at a historic high. RDI firmly believes that local people getting involved in the organizations and groups that make up the tapestry of their community is foundational for rural vitality. The underlying premise is that who comes to the table matters. With a focus on action and connection rather than position the Rural Community Leadership Program engages emerging and existing leaders in activities that honor and strengthen local visions and efforts.

The spark of leadership catches where we live, learn, work, and play.

“The moment you educate someone… a spark of understanding flashes in their eye. They become invested and responsible. They realize that they have the power to do something to help our community. And if we are lucky, that spark is just the beginning to bigger and greater things.”

~ Rural Community Leadership Program Participant

The leadership program results in: 
  • 7 years of increased and diversified local engagement
  • 92% increased collaboration, communication, and connection between people & organizations
  • 85% increased investment in local priorities and projects
  • Increased capacity for succession and leadership transfer to new and existing leaders

This leadership program is for:

  • people who want to be involved and make a difference.
  • people who are interested in taking a larger role
  • people who want to strengthen their teams
  • people who want to see more coordination in community efforts
  • people who want to feel more connected to their community.

“Every day I feel more empowered about our project as well as future projects just by implementing what we have applied and getting back to our questions of “who is not in the room”?”

RDI Program Participant

“In this course I learned so much, I became convinced that a person can grow a concept into a team effort to help their community!”

~ Rural Community Leadership Program Participant



Registration today for
Milton-Freewater Community Leadership Program!

RDI is once again partnering with Sherwood Trust to offer leadership training in Milton-Freewater Oregon. The program is slated to kick off in January 2023. Download the program schedule here.

Learn more and register today!

The Rural Community Leadership Program is underway in
Clallam County, Washington!

RDI is excited to be offering leadership training for North Olympic Peninsula community members! In-person workshops kicked off in Forks and Port Angeles in October 2022. 

Please let us know if you are interested in participating in a future cohort of this program or would like more information 
using this form


Christine Gilmore

Leadership Services Business Manager cgilmore (at)

Heidi Khokhar

Executive Director
hkhokhar (at)

Erubiel Valladares

Bilingual Facilitator and Trainer evalladares (at)