The Center for Rural Affairs has been on Chuck Karpf’s radar since 1979. Although he didn’t have much contact with the Center until the 1980s and ‘90s, he has become an active supporter over the years and now serves on the Board of Directors.
As a small-town bank manager early in his career, Chuck found the Center’s rural community development programs to be impressive and spent time learning about the organization and getting to know the staff. It was only a matter of time before he was asked to join the Advisory Committee, and then the Board in 2007.
Chuck now lives in Omaha and is semi-retired. He’s seen the Center expand in size and reach, as well as succeed in its mission.
“The growth of an organization presents more complexity than exists in a small organization where everyone knows everyone else and what everyone else is doing all the time,” Chuck said. “More complex policy and business issues and larger staffing to address them requires different systems than a small group working together. I think the Center is addressing the systems issues as well as program issues as they arise.”
Over the course of his career, Chuck published a rural newspaper, owned and managed a small construction company that built affordable housing in the Nebraska Panhandle, was part of the Nebraska Rural Development Commission for two terms, and much more. Plus, his experience in rural banking has proved useful during his time on the Board and various Center committees.
“I have told friends and family that I enjoy gathering together because I am with a group of people who are smarter than I am and very committed to the work they do,” he said. “Every Board meeting is interesting and informative.”
Chuck’s continued passion for strengthening the Center’s mission comes from the idea that the organization is not adequately acknowledged for its accomplishments.
“I think the Center’s work is more important than society realizes,” he said. “It is the kind of organization that would not be missed until it is gone; then people would say, ‘I didn’t know they did all of that.’ The Center does important work for rural Nebraska specifically, and rural America in general.”
And, as much as Chuck wishes he could see into the future to know what’s in store for the Center, he has high hopes its staff will continue to provide services and policy development for rural communities with the same passion and hard work that it has in the past.
“The Center does an excellent job of being mindful of the necessity of having a broad-based Board made up of a diverse group of people,” said Chuck. “I hope I have helped the Center as much as I have benefited from my experiences with it.”
Top photo: Chuck Karpf, left, participates in a Center Board meeting in December 2019, in Louisville, Nebraska.
Second photo: Brian Depew, executive director of the Center, welcomes Board and staff to the December 2019 meeting. Chuck is second from left.
Third photo: The Center Board meets quarterly, and gathered in West Point, Nebraska, in September 2019. Chuck is at left. | Photos by Rhea Landholm