After retiring from a career in education that took him all around the world, then settling in Red Cloud, Nebraska, Jay Hall found the Center for Rural Affairs through a good friend. He believed in the organization’s mission so completely that he was ready to throw his support behind it after only a short time.
“I was inspired, quite simply moved, by the staff’s enthusiasm, their skills, and their ‘can do’ attitude,” he said. “I studied the Center’s goals and programs, and then I was invited to attend a Board meeting. What I experienced there was what felt like a lively grassroots movement.”
Jay began his journey with the Center by helping develop a subsidiary focused on community development lending. He began serving on the Center’s Advisory Committee in 2010, and was invited to join the Center's Board of Directors in 2018.
“These experiences have been fantastic,” he said. “The committees work efficiently and are goal-oriented. Committee members are good comrades and so committed to the work.”
Since Jay joined the Board, it has tackled many different issues and has met in person and now virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. However and wherever the meetings are conducted, Jay is always ready to tackle the issues at hand.
“The Center is an advocate for rural America,” he said. “It provides a debate forum, an educational and training operation, and a lobbying force to help farmers and rural business people, especially start-up businesses like those owned by women, minorities, and lower-income people.”
Jay’s experiences helped him gain many attributes he uses to bring wisdom to his Board responsibilities.
“My career as an educator in several fields has given me skills as a good listener, a good speaker, a critical thinker, a good meeting facilitator, a good teamwork partner, and occasionally a good comedian and motivator,” Jay said.
He is especially passionate about the Center’s lending program and what it has done for small businesses across rural America, and he’s proud to be part of its history.
“It can provide funding for startups and also expanding businesses that often are not of interest to banks,” Jay said. “The lending program could perhaps be characterized as a bank with a heart, a rural soul, with a loan and educational staff that will assist entrepreneurs every step of the way.”
Jay has high hopes for the growth of the Center. He envisions the organization's work developing and changing with the needs, resources, and demands of each new day, and through whatever new policy changes and rural challenges may present themselves over time.
“I see a bright future for the Center and its Board, assisted by a staff of brilliant, resourceful, and caring people,” he said. “I see a Center that is rich in staff talent, with growing resources at the disposal of the organization. Also, continued strong commitment on the part of the directors on the Board—a Board with more and more knowledge of the challenges and a powerful devotion to good governance and a stronger rural America.”
Feature photo: Jay Hall, center, leads a quarterly meeting in December 2019, in rural Louisville, Nebraska. | Photo by Rhea Landholm