Board spotlight: Amanda McKinney aims to amplify Center’s work

Small Towns

Rural Americans often don’t receive the same resources or opportunities as those in more urban areas. Amanda McKinney of Beatrice, Nebraska, is working hard to change that.
As a physician, Doane University faculty member, and founder and executive director of the Institute for Human and Planetary Health at Doane, Amanda feels a robust rural America is the answer to many of the issues our society faces.
She stepped up to help address those issues by joining the Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors in 2019.
“I have lived in both an urban and a rural environment and much prefer rural life, and I want to preserve that life for my children,” said Amanda. “However, for me, the meaning of the Center's work goes much deeper than that. Humanity faces some existential threats that we can only survive over the long term if we have strong rural communities that are, to some degree, self-sufficient and sustainable. The work and volunteering I do is all focused on that.”
Amanda became familiar with the Center about 12 years ago and supported its work long before she joined the Board.
“There are some very talented and thoughtful people who serve the Center, and it's a privilege to work with them,” she said.
She feels the Center’s work acts as an “equalizer” to some degree.
“Rural people have rarely been first on the list when it comes to resource distribution and opportunity, yet rural people and communities are critical to our society,” said Amanda. “They feed our cities, and as such, the Center's work makes rural life not only better, but possible, allowing for our society to continue to function.”
Amanda hopes she can use her position on the Board to help the Center become more of a household name so it can reach out to and assist more people in rural America.
“The housing loans and rural enterprise loans have and will continue to help so many individuals, and thereby, communities,” she said. “I hope more young people will develop an interest in the work and help the Center continue to grow, expanding its visibility and providing more opportunities to more people.”
Recently, Amanda helped make a first-time homeowner’s dream come true in part through the Center’s home loan program, which serves as a prime example that her goal to engage young people in rural America to help small communities thrive is not only possible, it’s completely doable.
And, although she’s only been on the Board for a few years, Amanda can see how much change there has been since the Center was started, just like so much has changed about rural life in general. She’s proud to be part of that evolution.
“The anthropologist Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has,’” Amanda said. “I believe in this wholeheartedly, and to me, this quote captures the essence of the Center completely.”
Top photo: Amanda McKinney, second from left, participates in a Center for Rural Board of Directors meeting in December 2019.
Bottom photo: Amanda talks with Center Board and staff members during a break from the quarterly meeting in December 2019.