Rural Forward: Exploring Fresh Perspectives

Thursday, June 3 | Virtual Convening

Registration is now closed. Thanks to all of you who participated, presented, supported, and shared ideas, inspiration, and connections at our Rural Forward event.

Hosted by Rural Development Initiatives, this one-day rural-focused convening spotlights public policy, leadership development, and entrepreneurship. 

Engage in interactive sessions including:

9:00 am–10:30 am (Pacific)
Seeking Common Ground: Looking Past the Rural-Urban Divide
National political discourse has amplified a conflict between rural and urban interests, culture, and values that has resulted in a bifurcated reality: two “bubbles” of experience whose paths do not often cross in the media nor in our daily lives. This session will shed light on the potential common interests in these disparate experiences, toward consensus about what the future could be.
Panelists: Janet Soto Rodriguez, Deputy Director, Foundations for a Better Oregon (FBO); Ted Piccolo, Founding Executive Director, Northwest Native Development Fund; Steven Beda, Assistant Professor of History, University of Oregon

Click here to watch the session recording.

This program was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities, a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds Oregon Humanities’ grant program. For fifty years, Oregon Humanities has offered programs and publications that help Oregonians connect, reflect, and learn from one another. Special thanks to The Ford Family Foundation and Association of Washington Cities for their generous support of this session.

10:45 am–12:45 pm (Pacific)
RuraLead Northwest: Advancing Community Leadership

RuraLead is a learning initiative aimed at understanding the state of rural leadership development around the nation and charting a path forward. During this session, we’ll share themes, learnings, and solutions from the initiative, hear from RuraLead “Field Builders,” and discuss how we can take collective action toward stronger, more equitable rural communities in the Northwest.
Moderator: Jenna Bryant, Program Director, MDC
Panelists: Aly Richards, CEO, Let’s Grow Kids; Abigail Scholar, Executive Director, Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors; Titus Tomlinson, Program Director, Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program; Jack Soto, Sr. Program Manager, Career Readiness & Employment, American Indian College Fund

Click here to watch the session recording.
Click here to watch the RuraLead Northwest Leaders video, produced by Colton Clark for Rural Development Initiatives.

Support for this initiative was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

1:30 pm–3:30 pm (Pacific)
Rural Entrepreneurship: Building on Lessons Learned

RDI will host this interactive session to share and talk about lessons learned from the Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) program funded by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This program funded entrepreneurial ecosystem building in six Oregon communities. The session will facilitate a conversation of entrepreneur support partners at all levels (local, regional, and state) to discuss emerging issues in greater detail in order to chart a path for building stronger rural entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout the Pacific Northwest. Discussion topics include Equity and Entrepreneurship; Entrepreneurship and Main Street; Storytelling and Advocacy; Access to Capital; Youth, Entrepreneurship, and Education; and Ecosystem Coordination and Investment.

Click here to watch the session recording.

Tremendous thanks to Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for their generous support of this program.