Rural Forward NC Director to Join Nationwide Initiative Aimed at Building Thriving Rural American Communities

CARY — The Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, a leading North Carolina nonprofit that develops and supports innovative partnerships for a healthier North Carolina, today announced that its Rural Forward NC Program Director Calvin Allen has been named to the Theory of Change Working Group for Thrive Rural, where he joins a broad array of leading practitioners, academics and experts who will share expertise to create dynamic, sustainable rural communities where all people can realize their full potential and live healthy lives.

“The Thrive Rural initiative aims to design peer-learning opportunities, concrete tools and policy proposals that are responsive to local wisdom, needs and experience,” said Katharine Ferguson, Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. “We strive not to be the experts, but rather to ensure rural people and places — in all their glorious diversity — are heard and in on the action.”

With an intentional emphasis on the intersection of race, class and place, Allen will join practitioners, policy makers and academics across sectors and regions to weave an organized, unified and powerful network dedicated to improving rural community conditions and advancing rural health and prosperity.

“I am thrilled that Calvin was selected to contribute to this important work given his extensive experience working so effectively with rural communities across North Carolina,” said FHLI’s President and CEO Anne Thomas. “I know he will contribute significantly to Thrive Rural’s objectives.”

In North Carolina, Allen leads the FHLI’s Rural Forward NC Program, providing capacity-building and organizational development consulting to leaders, organizations, and networks across ten rural counties. The work is a part of the Healthy Places NC initiative of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

“It has been a pleasure to work with some of the best rural thinkers across the U.S. in defining ideal rural leadership structures,” says Allen. “It’s even more humbling to test those ideals with the real-life experiences of our rural NC partners who strive daily to make their communities thrive.”

More About Thrive Rural

The Thrive Rural initiative brings together the strength, perspective and commitment of three distinct institutions. For more than 35 years, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group has worked with practitioners from the hills, hollows and highways of rural America — and with leaders from its markets, manufacturers and Main Streets. We are partnering with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ingenuity and innovation behind the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, tapping their academic rigor and track record of creating accessible, useful tools that are changing how local leaders build more healthy and equitable communities. With rural health outcomes lagging, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made rural health and well-being an integral part of its commitment to health equity nationwide.