Rural Community Leadership Program

Rural Community Leadership Program

Our flagship Rural Community Leadership Program is based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from a broad base of knowledgeable, skilled, and motivated leaders. The leadership training consists of sessions that focus on developing the community leadership capacity of individuals. A typical class consists of individuals ranging from community college students to retired seniors, with varied leadership experience ranging from emerging to seasoned.

For 13 years, we designed and delivered the Ford Institute Leadership Program in Oregon and Siskiyou County, CA, serving nearly 90 rural community hubs and graduating nearly 9,500 rural leaders who are knowledgeable, skilled, and motivated to help their communities.

Since 2004, we have been working with the Sherwood Trust to gather and lead a diverse cohort of people from across Washington's Walla Walla Valley to learn together and build individual and community leadership skills through the annual Sherwood Trust Community Leadership Program.

We have adapted the Rural Community Leadership Program to reach new and broader audiences and to serve more geographic areas. We have been delivering the program in Washington's Yakima Valley, Skamania County, the Palouse Region, and Mason County, and we are focusing on bringing the leadership program to rural communities in Idaho and other parts of Washington. You will also see our continued involvement in Walla Walla alongside the Sherwood Trust as we continue to explore new ways to help rural communities thrive.

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See What's New 

Greater Palouse-area residents who want to make a difference in their communities are encouraged to apply for the Rural Community Leadership Program. Click here to apply. Classes begin February 2018.

Graduates of the Yakima Valley Rural Community Leadership Program recently dedicated the Little Free Library they created and installed in Grandview, the first of several planned for communities throughout the county. Click here to read more in the Yakima Herald.

Yakima Valley Rural Community Leadership Program participants look to make a difference in their communities. Click here to read more in the Yakima Herald.

Leadership program projects benefit communities in the Walla Walla Valley. Click here to read the newsletter article.

Leadership program participant and fellow high school students combine fun and service. Read more.

South Umpqua Gateway leadership cohort members dedicate covered wagon structure at Canyonville's Pioneer-Indian Museum. Read more.

Wild Rivers Coast leadership cohort’s “Project Go-Pack” builds community resilience and emergency preparedness. Read more.

N Lincoln County Ford Institute Leadership Program cohort works to enhance Lincoln City’s Agnes Creek Open Space as part of their class project. Click here to read the article in Oregon Coast Today.

Meet Our Team 

Noelle Colby-Rotell

Director of Leadership Services

Gary Stewart

Rural Community Leadership Consultant

Peggy Boone

Program Manager
Our Partners