Leaders Among Us
Individuals across rural NC are stepping up to do great thingsBy NC Rural Center | Photos by Logan Cyrus
In communities throughout North Carolina, individuals are hard at work to make their piece of the world a better place. Some are easy to spot: teachers, church leaders and elected officials who stand out above the rest. Others may be working behind the scenes, quietly supporting projects and organizations to make their communities the best they can be. But all are leaders, and all are vital assets to making rural North Carolina great.
The NC Rural Center is one organization that seeks to foster this kind of leadership across the state (see “Celebrating Rural Leadership,” page 4). For one, its nearly 30-year-old Rural Economic Development Institute (REDI) brings together rural leaders and emerging leaders each year to examine their communities through a comprehensive, asset-driven lens. REDI offers participants the opportunity to learn collaborative leadership skills and rural development strategies to help them return home and make a meaningful difference in their rural communities.
Homegrown Leaders, an extension of REDI, launched in 2016 and takes a regional approach to rural economic development and leadership advancement. Homegrown Leaders addresses the need for high-quality, professional and economic development training that equips community leaders with the skills they need to lead long-term economic advancement in their community and region.
The REDI program alone has nearly 1,200 alumni located throughout the state, applying what they’ve learned and the connections they’ve made to improve the lives of those back home in their communities. The following profiles highlight efforts from just a few of those alumni.