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Mable Starks of Pro-consulting Inc.

Mable Starks: No Longer Invisible

Mable Starks is a consultant with pro-consulting Inc. Previously, she has served as director of North Tulsa YWCA in Oklahoma, Director of Employment and Training for Westhab Inc., Superintendant of Liberty Faith Country Day School in the Poconos, Director of the YouthBuild program for 7 years, and President/CEO of Mississippi Action for Community Education Inc. Mable’s passion for working with young people can be traced back to her pre-professional days.  Whether she was tutoring young men in her neighborhood, providing informal mentorship, or being part of the campus student body at Mississippi Valley State University, Mable has always been on

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Sarah Pytalski

Sarah Cline Pytalski: On Becoming a Steelhead

Sarah Cline Pytalski has more than a decade of experience in rural community advocacy with a strong background in research and writing, project management, evaluation and strategic communications. As Senior Associate at Burness, she supports the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with a focus on rural, data, and community power-building initiatives. Prior to Burness, Sarah served as Policy Research & Evaluation Manager at the National Congress of American Indians and as Policy Program Manager for Rural Dynamics. She has a Master of Public Policy with a rural policy concentration from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s in international development from McGill

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Jessica Tellez, Education Pioneers Impact Fellow

Demographic Changes in Rural America: Building an Inclusive Latinx Community

Jessica Tellez is an Education Pioneers Impact Fellow where she works to create opportunity and equity for students that need it most. Jessica brings 7+ years of youth-development experience, most recently at YouthBuild USA, where she managed education and workforce initiatives which developed the academic, work-readiness, and leadership skills within Opportunity Youth. Jessica has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and was selected as a Latinos for Education Aspiring Latino Leader Fellow. She is a proud first-generation college graduate, holding a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso. Nepantla is the Nahuatl word for tierra entremedio

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Mary Sketch leads a community workday in Calaveras County, California after the Butte wildfire

Rising Above the Ashes: Lessons from Rural America

Mary Sketch is a Program Associate with the Center for Rural Strategies, working primarily on the Rural Assembly. She has spent time engaged with diverse rural communities across the country including worked on community development and forest restoration in the Central Sierras of California as well s seasonal work with the Nature Conservancy on Block Island, the University of Montana College of Forestry, and a dude ranch in western North Carolina. She has a Masters in Fish and Wildlife Conservation from Virginia Tech and a Bachelors in Environmental Studies from Brown University. Driving into Glencoe, California, an unincorporated community in

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Vanessa Bennett, Jobs for the Future

Vanessa Bennett: The Power of Service For Rural Young People

Vanessa Bennett is an Associate Director with the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning at Jobs For the Future focused on increasing economic mobility for opportunity youth and young adults. Previously she was the Senior Manager of Career Pathways at YouthBuild USA where she designed and implemented strategies to expand access to careers, post-secondary education, and national service. She has a background in youth development and direct service, and experience in housing and food policy. Vanessa is an AmeriCorps alum and we excited to have Vanessa as part of the staff team for the Rural Youth Assembly Summit. When it

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Sara St. Laurent with youth working on AmeriCorps project

Sara St. Laurent: Advocating for AmeriCorps Across Rural America

Sara St. Laurent is a leader in the national service field and an independent consultant. Previously she served as the Vice President for Program Management at YouthBuild USA, where she oversaw national service work including the implementation of AmeriCorps and VISTA programs across a national field of 3000 young people and 80 programs. She also led the development of training and TA to create service as a career pathway opportunity for opportunity youth. In most of the world, when you say the term “National Service,” it refers to conscripted military service – a national requirement for young people to serve in

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Adam Strong

Adam Strong: Working for His Hometown from the Hill

Kim Phinney  (Senior Fellow at Rural Strategies) and Adam Strong first connected when Adam was selected to participate in a meeting with Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach, John White and other key staff to hear about the unique challenges facing rural and Native opportunity youth in pursuing educational and career pathways. Adam then went on to be selected as a member of  the national council of young leaders with Opportunity Youth United. As a result of his demonstrated leadership, Adam was invited to attend  the 2015 Rural Assembly and participated in the Young Leaders

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