Wilson Forward director graduates leadership program

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Paula Benson of Wilson Forward graduated June 6 from the N.C. Rural Center’s Rural Economic Development Institute, an intensive, three-month training program designed for rural community leaders.

Rural Center President Patrick Woodie presented certificates to the program’s 30 graduates during a recent ceremony at the N.C. Rural Center.

“The three-month experience of the Rural Economic Development Institute provided new perspectives and innovative ideas that will support the local mission and focus of Wilson Forward,” Benson said. “I had the opportunity to learn from leaders representing all areas of our state, and I appreciated their insight in many topics that connected to our work in wellness, education and workforce development. The graduates from all 29 classes of REDI provide a strong network of leaders for the future, and I am eager to build on those connections as we continue our work in communities across North Carolina.”

For 29 years, REDI has helped leaders improve their leadership skills and increase their knowledge of economic and community development strategies, equipping them with the tools they need to tackle the issues facing rural North Carolina.

“This year’s REDI class had tremendous passion for and commitment to their rural communities,” said Bronwyn Lucas, the N.C. Rural Center’s director of leadership development. “The N.C. Rural Center recognizes the critical link between rural leaders that are inclusive, connected and informed and the potential for creative, healthy and more vibrant rural communities across our state. We are proud to have this class as the newest members of our growing network of leadership alumni.”

This year’s class participants included elected officials, economic development professionals, health care professionals and civic leaders.

More than 1,200 rural leaders have graduated from REDI since the program began in 1989.