From the desk of the executive director: Board adopts equity and diversity principles

Small Towns

Center staff and Board spent the past year developing a set of principles to help guide our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. In adopting these principles at our recent Board meeting, the Center commits to deepening our work to address the legacy of racism and inequality in rural communities.

While small towns in our part of the country are often characterized as mostly white, the reality is that the communities where we work are more diverse than many acknowledge. New immigrants continue to join long-time Indigenous, Black, and Brown people as fellow rural Americans.

Over the past decade, the Center has built new alliances with our Indigenous neighbors and supported their vision of food sovereignty through our work. We also engaged new immigrants, and supported them as they seek to become full participants in civic, economic, and community life. Over the past decade, our staff has come to more closely reflect the communities we serve. We are proud of this work.

In adopting our new guiding principles, we also acknowledge these are only first steps.

No matter where we come from or what color our skin is, most rural people work hard and value family and community. But, for too long, certain powerful interests have tried to keep us divided from one another by sowing hate and division. We envision a future where rural people are able to join together across differences to achieve equity and opportunity for everyone in our communities.

Our new guiding principles commit the Center to prioritizing community input, acknowledging the histories of underrepresented groups, valuing their insights, and being a reliable partner to achieve shared goals. In addition, we commit to advancing conversations about equity and diversity in rural communities, and to being an accessible organization for everyone who seeks to engage with us.

Finally, we understand that the work includes not only our programs in community, but also our internal affairs. The new principles prompt us to consider matters of Board and staff recruitment, equitable hiring and advancement, how our fundraising and communications promote equity, and our commitment to monitoring our progress and holding ourselves accountable.

The work is ongoing. We invite you to join us.

To read the Center’s new principles in full, please visit