Small Town Advocate Beginning at Age 10

I am honored and excited to be the new Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs. I owe much to all of you - great supporters, our staff, board, allies, and those who came before. Because of you the Center rests on a rock-solid reputation and a track record of success.

You might wonder how I came to be at the Center. It all began the summer I turned 10. That summer we visited the family farm in Iowa. My grandparents had recently retired and moved to town. We were scouting the farm, and I was lobbying to move there from halfway across the country.

We did move back to Iowa one year following. Growing up on my family’s farm defined my life. I raised pigs and witnessed first-hand the dramatic change in livestock markets that was underway. I got a first-rate education at a small town school, and graduated with 32 classmates. 

I cut my teeth in high school working to stop large corporate livestock facilities in our county. And I watched as corporate consolidation gobbled up and then closed the largest employer in our town. I was on my way to becoming an advocate for small towns and the people who call them home. 

I even remember reading my first Center for Rural Affairs newsletter when I was 14. My dad was a subscriber. The words in the Center newsletter connected with the values I was discovering. In college, I immersed myself in philosophy, and wrote a master’s thesis on the moral obligation to save the family farm. 

Now, two decades after moving to a small town in Iowa, I get to come to work for the Center every day - the organization that first gave voice to how I felt about rural communities. 

This work is a life’s mission for me. It has been an honor to work at the Center for the past 7 years, and I am excited to continue. 

For 40 years the Center has grown steadily in breadth of work and geographic reach. With you, we are poised to drive this work forward for 40 more years, facing challenges head-on and capitalizing on emerging opportunities for small town America. 

I look forward to working with all of you to create a vibrant future for the places we call home.

Brian's photo by Tim Hinds, Sioux City Journal