Staff spotlight: Preston appointed as interim Women's Business Center director

For nearly 20 years, Kim Preston has been part of the Center for Rural Affairs team. During that time, she has taken on different roles, and made each one her own.

In 1999, Preston started her career with the Center in the policy and research program. Fourteen years later, she was asked to become the administrative assistant for the small business program, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP). In five years, she has gained a broad knowledge of the loan making process, and has worked directly with technical assistance specialists providing services to clients.

“I have a broad view of business development with my ‘behind the scenes’ perspective,” said Preston. “This has allowed me an intimate look at both the ups and downs of small businesses, and hopefully the knowledge to help businesses replicate the ups and avoid the downs.”

Her experience has guided Preston toward her current role as interim director of the REAP Women’s Business Center. She steps in for Monica Braun, of Seward, who recently retired after 12 years as Women’s Business Center Director and 16 years with the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Kim has the skills and the passion to lead our work assisting women entrepreneurs in rural Nebraska,” said Brian Depew, Center for Rural Affairs executive director.

As interim Women Business Center director, she will coordinate with partner organizations to provide training and technical assistance opportunities to borrowers and prospective borrowers; assist business specialists in developing individualized technical assistance plans and provide guidance on implementation of the plan as needed for loan applicants and borrowers; and develop a strong relationship with REAP program borrowers and potential borrowers to arm small business owners with the knowledge and tools necessary for success.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting and working more directly with business owners and potential business owners,” said Preston. “I’m excited to apply a lot of what I’ve learned in the last five years in a practical environment.”

Not only does she have years of practical experience in rural financing, Preston has also personally lived and loved rural her entire life.

“I learned the importance of the small-knit community and local support as a young child,” she said. “My dad took over his dad's small engine repair shop and later went to work for another small business owner when the opportunity to sell the shop came up. I grew up with all of my grandparents within five blocks. Nothing can replace the love and support I felt growing up in that environment.”

Preston says raising a family in a rural setting remains important to her and her husband. They have two nearly grown children and 50 cow/calf pairs on their farm outside of Lyons, Nebraska. She also volunteers for her church and local food pantry.

“Providing the opportunity for our children to grow up in a community that knows you and loves you is something we wanted, and our children have appreciated their large, extended family of neighbors, teachers, and church community,” Preston said. “Our children have learned that someone always has their back, and they, in turn, are looking out for their friends and neighbors as well.”

In their free time, Preston and her husband enjoy golfing and league bowling, and also taking the occasional motorcycle ride in the country.

“I’m fortunate to experience so many elements of small town life in my personal life and to work for an organization dedicated to supporting it,” she said.

The Women’s Business Center’s services reach statewide in Nebraska. Preston can be reached at the Center’s main office in Lyons, at 402.687.2100 ext. 1008 or kimp@cfra.org.