Peer Event

Finding New Narratives In Rural America: A Concert of Ideas

Enjoy a day rich in new experiences and ideas — where you will be challenged to think more deeply, entertain new perspectives, and ultimately dig into potential new narratives for rural America. We will create an environment to spur your thinking about existing assets in new ways, new assets that are needed, ways to turn assets into opportunities, and importantly, how to better engage citizens toward new narratives for economic and social prosperity.

Date & Time


Hilton Anatole Hotel

2201 N Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX 75207



Finding New Narratives for Rural America: A Concert of Ideas

Rural Preconference Session IconThis event is a preconference session at the 2017 Annual Conference.

Achieving shared prosperity for all Americans is the signal challenge of our time.

The Council on Foundations is staging an immersive, pre-conference experience that will open the minds of participants to fresh approaches and narratives for creating shared prosperity for rural America. Our goal is to spark new thinking and to facilitate networking discussions about the vitality of rural America, what is possible for the future, and the leadership roles foundations can play to help urban and rural America reach a better understanding of mutual interests.

Orchestrating this day for us is Creative Leaps International, a globally acclaimed cadre of learning specialists, interdisciplinary thinkers, performing artists and innovators.   Beginning with an actual “Concert of Ideas” performance to jump-start our most imaginative thinking, and incorporating a series of energizing learning and reflective experiences, the Creative Leaps team will guide us on our way to a day rich in innovation.    

Ideas large and small will be examined through a set of key drivers of rural change: rapid technology advancements, urban-rural interdependence, community vitality and shared economic prosperity, and anticipated large-scale federal infrastructure actions.  The day will build upon examples of local success, collaborative actions, shared resources, and new tools/techniques/technologies.   At the end of the experience, participants will take part in a celebratory “Harvest of Ideas” to encapsulate fresh learning, new narratives, and strategies for bringing shared prosperity to rural America.


9:30-10 a.m.

Coffee and Check-in

10-11:30 a.m.

Getting Started: A Concert of Ideas

Thoroughly original in concept, the Concert of Ideas is a spark to new thinking, wholehearted engagement and a powerful catalyst for change. A highly interactive experience!

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Networking Lunch: Impressions, Insights, and Explorations

1-2 p.m.

New Narratives "Round One" — The Brain Gain: Leveraging the Returning of Talent to Rural America.

Speaker: Benjamin Winchester, Research Fellow Extension Center for Community Vitality, University of Minnesota 

2-3 p.m.

New Narratives "Round Two" — Big Ideas Disrupting the Status Quo

Technology Driving the Future: Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things
Game-Changer Speaker: John R. McElligott, CEO, York Exponential

Building Economic Vitality and Shared Prosperity: Innovations and Drivers of Inclusive Economic Develpoment
Game-Changer Speakers: Mike Green and Johnathan M. Holifield, J.D., Co-founders, Scale Up Partners

Opportunities of New Infrastructure: Water and Broadband on the Front Burners
Game-Changer Speaker: Michael Likosky, Infrastructure Lead, 32 Advisors

Urban- Rural Collaboration: Civic Leadership and Inspiration Across Boundaries
Game-Changer Speaker: Susan McCalmont, President, Creative Oklahoma

3:15-4:30 p.m. 

New Narratives "Round Three" — Talking “Across the Fence”

Participate in two “Big Ideas” discussion hubs.

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Ending on a High Note: The Harvest of Ideas

Encapsulating ideas and “new narratives” from the day.

6-8 p.m.

Join the Celebrating Reasons for Hope Networking Reception


Connect with Council Staff

Stephanie Powers

Senior Advisor, Public Policy and Partnerships

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