New Staff Feature: Jessica Burroughs Joins Rural Forward NC

In February, Jessica Burroughs joined the Foundation as the new Partnership Manager for Rural Forward NC. A public health leader, Jessica brings 18 years of experience in driving the sustainable growth of regional and state-wide initiatives to the team. In her position, she will work with the Rural Forward team to design, organize, and implement capacity-building services for Healthy Places NC. We asked Jessica a few questions to get to know her better.

Q: Where are you from and how did you end up in North Carolina?

A: I am originally from Chapel Hill. I have lived in other places, but always felt drawn to North Carolina. I moved back to NC in 2004 and now live in Durham.

Q: What drew you to the Foundation and Rural Forward? 

A: While at the North Carolina Partnership for Children, I worked with Smart Start Local Partnerships and child care centers in some of the same counties as those served by Rural Forward NC. I also volunteer with NC Momsrising, which is a non-profit group working to bring parents’ voices to legislative policy debates through community mobilization. Both experiences have given me the opportunity to travel across the state and collaborate with a diverse range of North Carolinians. Through my experiences in rural North Carolina, I feel called to action by Rural Forward’s mission to build local capacity and support the leadership infrastructure embedded within communities. I wholeheartedly believe in the Foundation’s approach of finding local solutions to community problems by collaborating with community leaders.

What type of organizations have you worked for in the past?

Most recently I worked at the North Carolina Partnership for Children/Smart Start on an initiative called Shape NC, which is a statewide early childhood obesity prevention initiative created to increase the number of children starting kindergarten at a healthy weight. Prior to that, I spent seven years at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at Duke University, helping mental health agencies select, implement, and sustain best practices for treating children with trauma.  I also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua. After returning from the Peace Corps, I worked at El Centro Hispano in Durham, NC.

What are you most excited for in this position?

I am excited to begin learning from community members in the Healthy Places NC counties. I feel open and ready to begin fostering relationships within the communities, and am excited to see all the great work that is already happening there!

What do you like to do for fun/ in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my husband and two boys (ages 9 and 11), who are at a fun age still full of wonder and joy at life. I’m trying to squeeze in as much time with them as possible before adolescence kicks in. I also love yoga, hiking, and zoning out to my favorite Netflix shows.