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Urban Rural Connection Project

Urban Rural Connection Project Overview: At a time when our communities and nation feel acutely divided, ALF is leading a bold dialogue and collaboration across difference. Senior Fellows are primed to address our state's most intractable issues, so we're launching the Urban Rural Connection Project, a new program to harness Senior Fellows' collective capacity to listen to difference, find community and create opportunity.

Project Structure

A Cohort of 11 ALF leaders that represent diverse geographies, identities and sectors will travel the state from January – June 2018 (see Cohort list below). They will meet with local ALF leaders and guests of ALF leaders in six Regional Dialogues (see calendar below). These Regional Dialogues will be a place for these high-level, community-tested leaders to work in collaboration to identify the rifts that exist in Oregon between urban, suburban and rural communities and identify key bridging opportunities specifically through a leadership lens.

Regional Participants

ALF Oregon Regional Leaders and Local Leaders participating in one of six Regional Dialogues with the Cohort Members. These Regional Dialogues are essential to the success of the Urban Rural Connection Project, because they provide the space to gather the data and perspectives that are the reason for this work.

Space is limited for each meeting, so if you want to participate and invite a guest we encourage you to claim your spot in the Regional Dialogues ASAP
Given the nature of the conversation and programming, participants need to commit to the whole dialogue (9:00 AM - 12:00 PM) to facilitate the in-depth conversations that will support this Project's success. 

Cohort Members that will be attending all six Regional Meetings

  • Senator Margaret Carter, Class 2, President, Margaret Carter & Associates
  • Senator Susan Castillo, Class 16, Vice President, West Region, Project Lead the Way
  • County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins, Class 27, County Commissioner, Coos County
  • Tom Fuller, Class 1, Project Manager, Shiels Obletz Johnsen
  • County Commissioner Simon Hare, Class 28, County Commissioner, Josephine County
  • Charles "Chuck" Hudson, Class 25, Intergovernmental Affairs Director, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Valeria Hysong, Class 29, Inmate Work Program Coordinator, Department of Corrections
  • Kelly Poe, Class 30, Director of Community Based Services, Malheur Education Service District
  • Connie Saldana, Class 19, Planner, Rogue Valley Council of Governments
  • Steve Schulz, Class 32, Executive Director, Cycle Oregon
  • Kristin Steele, Class 32, Fundraising Consultant, Swaim Strategies 

In addition to our 11 Cohort Members, we have two Senior Fellow Facilitators!

  • Jake Gibbs, Class 28, President & CEO, Starker Forests
  • Vicki Nakashima, Class 13, Volunteer, nonprofits, City of Portland, higher education, golf

Regional Dialogue Meeting Dates

  • January 2018 - State Capitol + Willamette Valley - Salem (Location: Willamette University)
    • Monday, 1/8/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • February 2018 - Oregon Coast - Lincoln City (Location: Lincoln City Hall Chambers)
    • Friday, 2/2/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • March 2018 - Southern Oregon - Medford (Location: Harry & David Headquarters)
    • Friday, 3/2/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • April 2018 - Central Oregon - Warm Springs (Location: Kahneeta Resort & Spa)
    • Friday, 4/13/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • May 2018 - Eastern Oregon - Baker City (Location: Baker High School)
    • Friday, 5/4/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • June 2018 - Portland (Location: Mercy Corps Action Center)
    • Friday, 6/8/18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Our intentions at the completion of the Project is to:

Better understand how the divide is defined, how it impacts communities, and how we might re-focus the broader dialogue to what connects us, instead of what divides us.

Synthesize the Project’s findings for distribution to Regional Participants, funders and the larger civic leadership community. The urban-rural divide is exasperated by a lack of understanding of the barriers and opportunities in diverse geographic communities. By sharing the Project’s findings, we aim to foster greater collaboration and understanding across geographic divides.

 Throughout the 31-year history of ALF Oregon, Oregon's urban-rural divide has been a part of every class and it is an issue that affects each of our local communities. Historically, annually each ALF Class (about 20 Fellows) has taken on a Project to address a problem facing Oregon. The Urban Rural Connection Project’s vision is based on a widening of Fellows' ALF identity past the affinity to their individual Class into an identity rooted in the collective power of the 700+ Senior Fellow network and the Local Leaders that join the Regional Dialogues. The Cohort will identify 2-3 critical issues that this expanded network can come together to work towards solutions for issues identified during the Regional Dialogues. Envision with us, an ALF Project, but with the greatly expanded influence, expertise, and leadership of the full ALF Network and the new Regional Participants. We believe that together we can accomplish something bold that helps communities across Oregon thrive.

Questions? Please contact Mariana Lindsay,, or 503.757.6356

A very hearty thank you to Meyer Memorial TrustFord Family Foundation and the Oregon Community Foundation (especially: Max Williams, Class 30 and Kathleen Cornett, Class 9) for granting the funding and support to make this work possible. 

American Leadership Forum - Oregon
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