Rural Funders Series - The State of Rural Leadership Today

Rural Funders Series - The State of Rural Leadership Today

Image of a farm land and homestead in Sublimity, Oregon

Event details

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
10:00am to 11:30am PDT

About this event

Throughout 2020 and 2021, RuralLead went on a listening tour in rural America to get the first national look at the state of rural leadership today, learning from nearly 1,000 rural advocates, practitioners and funders from around the country. Join us to hear recommendations and actions from that listening tour that rural funders and intermediaries can take to strengthen rural recovery and investment. We're pleased to welcome four key rural leadership practitioners serving diverse rural regions and explore these essential questions:

  • Who gets to lead? Who has power in rural places?
  • What constitutes good rural leadership?
  • What does good rural leadership look like in practice?

This session will emphasize the importance of leadership in all rural community work - not solely traditional rural leadership development support.


Philanthropy Northwest is partnering with Allen Smart of Philanthropy Worx to present this Rural Funder Series. In 2021, we will co-facilitate a series of six sessions where we will explore issues relevant to rural funders. 


Heidi Khokhar, Executive Director, Rural Development Initiatives, Project Lead, RuraLead Learning Initiative

Heidi Khokhar is the executive director at Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) and project lead for the RuraLead Learning Initiative. She works collectively with a vast network of community leaders, Oregon’s best employee team and a web of committed partners to strengthen rural people, places and economies in the Pacific Northwest. Rural communities have experienced tremendous change; bringing both peril and promise. Heidi has served rural communities for more than 20 years and is passionately committed to developing diverse, skilled and connected local leaders and sustainable economic revitalization efforts, as well as elevating rural voices and priorities. Her experience includes facilitating strategic community visions and plans; design and delivery of RDI’s award-winning Rural Community Leadership program; initiating the WealthWorks economic revitalization initiative and originating RDI’s volunteer Community Ambassador Network. 

Abigail Scholar, Executive Director, Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors

Abigail Scholar is the executive director of Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors - a nonprofit that provides pro-bono immigration legal services and engages in community-led advocacy work in Central and Eastern Washington. She has worked as part of the coordinating committee of the Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition since 2017, she is a founding member of the Spokane Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition and is a steering committee member of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network. She works collaboratively with the ACLU of Washington, the Washington Defenders Association and other statewide stakeholders in moving power for impacted immigrant community members. She has worked in community organizing for a number of years and she has extensive experience in developing community-led programs and supporting leaders within the community to advance capacity building and reevaluating how we define leadership.

Jack Soto, Senior Program Manager, American Indian College Fund’s Career Readiness Pathways Program (CRPP)

Jack Soto serves as the senior program manager of the American Indian College Fund’s Career Readiness Pathways Program (CRPP) to increase student persistence and completion with a focus on preparing students for their intended careers. The program provides career planning and exposure through internships and other experiences, and career-readiness training opportunities at a variety of levels and resources. The College Fund supports the 37 tribal colleges and universities associated with communities throughout the country. Most of these institutions are located in rural and on Tribal lands.


Titus Tomlinson, Program Director, Resource Assistance for Rural Environments AmeriCorps Program

Titus Tomlinson brings over 10 years of experience working in the rural community and economic development arenas, including positions at local governments, a consulting firm, small nonprofits and an institute of higher education. His varied work experience includes traditional land use planning, grant writing and fundraising, partnership and program development, event planning and volunteer recruitment, engagement and management. He currently serves as program director of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments AmeriCorps Program within the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon. Titus holds a bachelor's degree in natural resources planning from Humboldt State University and a master's degree in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon.


Please contact Sharayah Lane with any questions.

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Philanthropy NorthwestThe Giving PracticeThread FundLeona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust