);

We’ll grapple with these and other questions at the Rural Women’s Summit:

  1. If women are the “backbone” of communities, how do we support them as organizers and leaders?
  2. How is women’s leadership different? What are the values, strategies, and tactics that women are bringing to community building?
  3. What are some concrete examples and models of tools and resources that are empowering rural women?
  4. How do we build power for the values of inclusion, justice, and equity?

Program at a Glance

October 27

October 28

October 29

The Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center

Don’t miss our opening reception in the historic Huguenot Loft in Downtown Greenville. Join us for heavy appetizers, a cash bar, and good fellowship, plus live music from South Carolina native, Kyshona Armstrong. 

Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn

Fuel up with a complimentary breakfast at Summit hotels. Other breakfast options are within walking distance, as well. 

Meet the Rural Assembly team bright and early in the Huguenot Loft. We’ll offer a brief orientation to summit space and help you know what to expect over the next day and a half. 

Special guest appearance: North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green

The Peace Center

We often look to dedicated journalists to help us make sense of how women are faring in rural America. From food news to cultural news, from investigative reporting to front-line missives, these five women journalists will offer us a candid analysis of the trends, challenges, and realities rural women are facing and addressing every day.

Panelists include: 

  1. Lyndsey Gilpin, Founder of Southerly Magazine, @lyndseygilpin
  2. Mary Annette Pember, contributor to Indian Country News, The Daily Yonder, @mapember
  3.  April Simpson, reporter, Stateline/Pew Trust, @aprilleticia
  4. Ruxandra Guidi, contributor to High Country News, @HomelandsProd
  5. Leah Douglas (moderator), reporter, Food and Environment Reporting Network, @leahjdouglas

The Peace Center

The Ramsaur Studio and the Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center

Creating our Human Museums, Led by Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate (@greenjaki) (Pre-registration for this session is required)

We are all human museums carrying/holding/translating secrets/identities/family/community/traditions/artifacts/stories/symbols/joys/sorrows/fears/regrets/hopes/dreams/memories/amnesia/weapons/generational trauma/genetic de-ja-vu. As you think of yourself as your own curator or personal anthropologist…what is in your human museum?

VoteRunLead, #RunAsYouAre 90 Day Challenge with trainers Prairie Rose Seminole (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, @msprairierose) and Nevada Littlewolf (Women Winning, @nrlittlewolf)

The #RunAsYouAre™ 90 Day Challenge will help you make a real plan to get to know your political community, find the best office to run for, and bolster your campaign to win.We believe you already have the experience, talent and networks to achieve your political ambition. #RunAsYouAre will accelerate the growth of your political networks and know-how with practical and actionable steps. The workshop will help you make a real plan to get to know your political community , find the best office to run for, and bolster your campaign to win. With the unprecedented surge in women interested in running for office, our essential and individualized approach equips participants to campaign and win.

Rural Matters podcast recording: Faith communities in rural America. Facilitated by Michelle Rathman (Twitter: @RuralMattersPod, @MRBImpact). Respondents: Rev. Dr. Robin Dease (United Methodist Chuch, Hartsville, South Carolina Conference); Rev. Jen Bailey (Faith Matters/People’s Supper, @revjenbailey); Okolo Rashid (International Museum of Muslim Cultures, @muslimmuseum)

Witness a live podcast recording & conversation about how women faith leaders are agents of social change in rural communities. Michelle Rathman of Rural Matters will talk with three women faith leaders from different backgrounds about faith communities on front lines of addressing systemic challenges—from addiction to isolation to poverty—and how women faith leaders are leading efforts to heal historic traumas, to bridge divisions and create new hope, particularly within communities of color.

The Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center

Enjoy a long lunch with us in the Huguenot Loft.

The Embassy Suites

We’ll offer two rounds of breakout sessions on topics that emerged through our conference engagement survey. These sessions are meant to spark dialogue, provide concrete examples and models of how women build and exercise their power in communities, and offer actionable takeaways for participants. 

Empowering Rural Women’s Leadership Part I. Led by Teresa Kittridge (100 Rural Women, @100ruralwomen) and Madeline Moore (Rethinking Rural, @rethinkingrural)
Speakers include Molly Johnston (Dance Barn Collective, @dancebarncollective); Nevada Littlewolf (Women Winning, @nrlittelwolf); Morgan McManus (Clemson University); Jessica Tantisook (North Coast Food Web, @northcoastfoodweb)

Join us for a highly interactive workshop. The first hour will be 7-minute rapid fire presentations by incredible rural female leaders sharing their stories, their success, life balance tips, obstacles they’ve overcome and their visions for a brighter future. The second hour will be roundtable intensives facilitated by the presenters and workshop creators to learn about how we can we better support each other as rural women, what structures, strategies, approaches, networks or models can be valuable to build stronger relationships and a more inclusive future and what gaps may exist that we as a network can fill.  We will close the session with summaries from each table, identifying and lifting up models for folks to take home with them and how to build a network from the workshop and summit overall.

Mending the land: Revitalizing rural places through women’s leadership in conservation. Facilitated by Mary Sketch (Center for Rural Strategies, @Mary_Sketch). Speakers include Jennie Stephens (Center for Heirs Property Preservation, @HeirsProperty), Malloree Weinheimer (Chickadee Forestry, @chickadee_forestry), and Janie Simms Hipp (Native American Agriculture Fund).

In a field historically dominated by men, women are pioneering efforts across our rural landscapes to mend the land in new and creative ways that address not only environmental concerns, yet social and economic challenges as well.  In this session, we will discuss the importance of place protection for holistic rural development, the ways in which women’s leadership in conservation and working lands looks different, and the successes and challenges women are facing as they work to heal our rural people and places. This session will include a panel of conservation professionals and leaders working to redefine what resource and land management look like in rural America.

Making Noise: Women’s Protest songs as rural resistance. Led by Amy Brooks (Cardinal Cross Arts Collective, @cardinalcrossartsco), Hilarie Rose Spangler (Cardinal Cross Arts Collective, Beth Morrison Projects, @cardinalcrossartsco), and Ashley Hanson (PlaceBase Productions, Department of Public Transformation, @publictransformation, @placebaseproductions).

Rural women’s music, storytelling, and creative play are more than mere entertainments. They are the historical building blocks of domestic and political change, as well as drivers of economic growth in 21st century rural America. This interactive workshop will explore community noise as a foundation for musical storytelling, truth telling, and civic discourse about our shared—and unique—experiences as rural people.

South Carolina Women Organize, Part I. Led by Susan Duplessis (South Carolina Arts Commission, @scartscomm) and Kristen Richardson-Frick (The Duke Endowment, @DukeEndowment)

Session participants will hear 10-minute presentations from two rural SC women leaders, who will share a snapshot of new work they are currently doing to build healthy and vibrant communities in rural South Carolina. The session will take the form of a “collaboratory” with the goal of building a network of awareness, support, and resourcing among grassroots leaders. After each presentation, the floor is open for questions, clarifications, thoughtful critiques, and finally, commitments. The goal is to share the highs and lows of the work and invite support from session participants that will accelerate the success of this work.

Muslim in Appalachia with 100 Days in Appalachia and America Indivisible. Speakers include Saba Ashfaq (American Indivisble), Emily Pelland (100 Days in Appalachia, @EmilyPelland), and Lela Ali (Muslim Women For, @muslimwomenfor)

Producers from 100 Days in Appalachia discuss the evolution of the documentary project “Muslim in Appalachia” and how it has evolved for participants since the 2016 election. This session will include conversations about communion, outreach, bridge building and coping mechanisms for Muslim women living in the South.

Conference Rooms at the Embassy Suites

Empowering Rural Women’s Leadership Part II. Facilitated by Madeline Moore (Rethinking Rural, @Rethinking Rural) and Teresa Kittridge (100 Rural Women, @100ruralwomen)

Join us for a highly interactive workshop. The first hour will be 7-minute rapid fire presentations by incredible rural female leaders sharing their stories, their success, life balance tips, obstacles they’ve overcome and their visions for a brighter future. The second hour will be roundtable intensives facilitated by the presenters and workshop creators to learn about how we can we better support each other as rural women, what structures, strategies, approaches, networks or models can be valuable to build stronger relationships and a more inclusive future and what gaps may exist that we as a network can fill.  We will close the session with summaries from each table, identifying and lifting up models for folks to take home with them and how to build a network from the workshop and summit overall.

A Living Culture: A Conversation with Double Edge Theatre. Led by Cariel Klein (Double Edge Theatre, @DoubleEdgeThtr) and Jennifer Johnson (Double Edge Theatre, @DoubleEdgeThtr)

Double Edge Theatre, an artist-run organization, was founded in Boston in 1982 by Stacy Klein as a feminist ensemble and laboratory of actors’ creative process. The Double Edge Ensemble, led by Artistic Director Klein, along with Co-Artistic Directors Carlos Uriona, Matthew Glassman, Jennifer Johnson, and Producing Director Adam Bright, creates original theatrical performances that are imaginative, imagistic, and visceral. These include indoor performances and site-specific indoor/outdoor traveling spectacles both of which are developed with collaborating visual and music artists through a long-term process and presented on the Farm and on national and international tours.

Economic and Social Justice in America through the Lens of Rural Black Women. Presenters include Carol Blackmon (Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative, @SRBWI), Sarah Bobrow-Williams (Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative), and Oleta Fitzgerald (Children’s Defense Fund and Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative).

You cannot have an honest dialogue about how to create compassionate communities and the barriers rural women face without the voice of southern, rural Black women. Disproportionately marginalized and reeling from years of neglect and globalization, Southern rural Black women, typically the heads of households, are confronting escalating discrimination and disparate treatment in most aspects of their lives. They continue to see their labor devalued, face steep barriers to their economic empowerment, and, along with their families, are systematically excluded from involvement in political, economic and social systems that determine their fate, the fate of their communities and the fate of the physical and natural environment. In this workshop, members of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative executive team will look back and reflect upon key  approaches to asset and leadership development (listed below)  that have and continue to be most generative and engage participants in a discussion about how to apply lessons learned to create  a  more equitable and inclusive nation and more  informed civic dialogue.

South Carolina Women Organize Part II: Coming Home Led by Susan Duplessis (South Carolina Arts Commission, @scartscomm) and Kristen Richardson-Frick (The Duke Endowment, @DukeEndowment).

Coming Home. Speakers include Robby Carrier Bethel (West End Council of Neighborhood Associations) and Lottie Lewis (Town of Allendale)

Two women reflect on their experiences and community building in rural America.   Robby Carrier Bethel of New Iberia, Louisiana, and Lottie Lewis of Allendale, South Carolina, share stories of love and commitment to their home communities–places they left as they developed careers, places they returned to when family called them back. On coming home, they found communities and neighborhoods changed, without obvious leadership and folks disconnected from one another.  What they did in response has been a tremendous lift and shift. It’s personal. Come hear their stories in a conversation facilitated by Susan DuPlessis of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Pop-Up Breakout

Have a topic you want to discuss at the Summit and don’t see covered in the sessions? Come visit us at registration and share your suggestions with us and we will have a space available for pop-up conversations.

The Rendezvouz Ballroom at the Embassy Suites

Make your way to the Embassy Suites for an evening reception & cash bar. 

Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn

Fuel up with a complimentary breakfast at summit hotels. Other breakfast options are within walking distance, as well. 

Welcome back to the Summit with remarks by Minor Mickel Shaw.

The Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center

Fireside Chat on the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People

A conversation between Edyael Casaperalta (@_edyael_), fellow with the American Indian Law program at Colorado Law School, and Kristen Carpenter, Professor of Law and Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Peace Center

The Ramsaur Studio and Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center

Anne Braden: Southern Patriot Film Screening and Discussion

Session will be led by Mimi Pickering (Appalshop film director, @mimipick), Kelly Sue Waller (Showing Up for Racial Justice, @ShowUp4RJ) and Tanea Chantrell (Showing Up for Racial Justice, not confirmed)

Anne Braden, a white southerner, was one of the “unknown” figures in the Civil Rights Movement. Attacked for her attempt in the 1950s to desegregate a Louisville neighborhood, Braden turned herself “inside out” and embraced a lifetime of racial justice organizing matched by few whites in American history. Braden’s central message was that white people must join the struggle against racism, for their own liberation as well as the collective society. 

THE BATTLE IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN A BATTLE FOR THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF WHITE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY. THE FIGHT AGAINST RACISM IS OUR ISSUE. IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT WE’RE CALLED ON TO HELP PEOPLE OF COLOR WITH. WE NEED TO BECOME INVOLVED WITH IT AS IF OUR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT BECAUSE REALLY, IN TRUTH, THEY DO. -ANNE BRADEN

In this session we will screen and discuss the documentary, and invite participants to share ideas and current efforts to foreground Anne Braden’s legacy of raising up racial justice issues and organizing multiracial movements in small towns and rural areas. 

Ending Mass Incarceration Where It Begins: In Our Own Backyards. Presenters/panelists include Jasmine Heiss, In Our Backyards, Vera Institute of Justice, (@jasminitamh); Dawn Blagrove, Carolina Justice Policy Center, @dawnblagrove; Elizabeth Simpson, Carolina Justice Policy Center; Carol white, NAACP of Wilson County; Dawn Harrington, Free Hearts, @dawnrharrington; Jeannie Alexander, No Exceptions Prison Collective; Reverend Alaina Cobb, Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center.

The highest incarceration rates are no longer in the nation’s big cities, but rather in the thousands of often overlooked smaller cities, towns, and rural areas that comprise nearly half the U.S. population. What’s more, women are the fastest growing incarcerated population, and small communities are driving this growth. This session will explore the drivers of the county jail boom in communities across the country, the harms of relying on incarceration for economic survival, and what is being done to resist mass incarceration in rural America, focusing on women-led, multi-racial organizing efforts in rural Tennessee and North Carolina. The conversation, moderated by Jasmine Heiss, Campaign Director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s In Our Backyards initiative, will also engage participants in drafting a new vision for rural justice.

Southern Rural Organizing: Buiilding Power to Shore up the Backbone of our Communities. Session organizers include Amy Dudley (Creating Democracy), Carol Blackmon (Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative), Taysha DeVaughan (Appalachian Community Fund), Margo Miller (Appalachian Community Fund), and Hometown Action

The rural South is ground zero for a slew of threats that marginalize women and the communities we are a part of and care deeply for – from hospital closures, abortion bans, public school privatization and defunding, voter suppression, lack of transportation, internet, emergency services and other basic infrastructure, to gun sanctuaries and anti-immigrant campaigns.  We have been testing grounds for divisive messages that paint an inaccurate picture of who is rural, Southern, and American and attempt to silence voices and experiences that contest those lies by our very existence.  The rural South is diverse, multiracial, queer, immigrant, and so much more than the conservative monolith portrayed in the media and represented in our dominant politics.  When we show up as the powerful, organized communities that we can be, we transform not only ourselves and our communities, but what is possible in our country.  This hopeful, interactive session will delve into local community organizing that is advancing an inclusive, intersectional, justice centered rural South (that is applicable wherever you call home). 

This session is produced by Anna Claussen (Voices for Rural Resilience, @voicesforrural)

Marlene Chavez (Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, @TRLA): On immigration and equity

Wendi Everson (Danville Regional Foundation): On building community wealth in Danville’s African-American neighborhoods

Madeline Moore (Rethinking Rural, @Rethinking Rural): The power of rural millennials

Kathy Annette, (Blandin Foundation, @BlandinFound) Lessons from a trailblazer

Michele Anderson (Springboard for the Arts, @micheleeamn): A story of radical feminism 

Savannah Barrett (Art of the Rural, @ArtoftheRural): Authentic exchange across rural and urban America