The Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX) has announced the selection of its 2022 leadership cohort. Following a competitive application process, RUX alumni have selected 50 Kentuckians with varied experiences of leadership, career, geography, age, ability, expertise, gender, race, sexuality, culture, and class.

These leaders in the arts, agriculture, community development, education, government, health, and business represent all regions of Kentucky, including Carter, Daviess, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Green, Jefferson, Kenton, Knott, Letcher, Madison, Marion, McCracken, Metcalfe, Muhlenberg, Rowan, Pike, Shelby, Taylor, and Whitley counties.

C.Todd Birdsong, Dorothea Manley-Davis, and LeeAnna Meadows, all of McCracken County, were selected to join this year’s cohort.

The Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange program is known for facilitating conversations about Kentucky’s biggest challenges and uplifting a Kentucky narrative that is as exciting, diverse, and complex as Kentuckians themselves. Each summer, RUX is hosted in three regions of the state to help participants understand and value the culture, landscape, context and people of each place.

This year’s cohort members can look forward to community intensive conferences in Muhlenberg County May 27-29, Louisville August 5-7, and Estill County Sept. 23-25 in 2022.

During these community intensives, members hone professional and leadership skills while exploring the culture, food, natural environments, economies, and regional identity of each community. The RUX curriculum supports creative leadership development, builds networks, and inspires cross-sector collaborations.

“RUX breaks down all the walls and barriers that we construct to keep ourselves set apart from others… and allows members the space to discover for themselves that we really aren’t that different from each other after all, and in fact, we are intrinsically tied to one another,” said Ivy Brashear, an alumni of the steering committee and this year’s co-facilitator.

“You will start to understand that you and your place are not in this alone, and in fact, you must be connected and put in the hard work of staying intentionally connected to build a better future.”

The 2022 program is planned in partnership with the Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Folklife Program, and regional host partnerships with Estill Development Alliance, the Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress, the Food Literacy Project, Hood to the Holler, Kentucky Performing Arts, Louisville Free Public Libraries, Louisville Metro Government, and the Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville.

Since 2014, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange has developed and supported Kentucky’s creative leadership with 240 alumni from 42 counties. Now in its eighth year, RUX has earned national acclaim in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, at national conferences such as Rural Women’s Summit and the Kennedy Center Arts Summit, and through the program’s duplication in Minnesota.

To learn more about the Rural-Urban Exchange and the 2022 Cohort, visit Support the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange for Kentucky Gives Day May 10:

The Kentucky RUX is a partnership of The Art Of The Rural & Appalshop, and is facilitated by a statewide steering committee. RUX is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the W.L. Lyons Brown Foundation, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Lee Initiative, the Kentucky Historical Society, and many regional and local foundations, businesses, and individual Kentuckians.

About Appalshop

Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books. Their education and training programs support communities’ efforts to solve their own problems in a just and equitable way. Each year, Appalshop productions and services reach several million people nationally and internationally.

About Art of the Rural

Art of the Rural advances rural culture and quality of life through relationships that connect communities, cultivate dialogue, and forward rural-urban exchange. Through a suite of national, regional, and local programs, Art of Rural’s work invites a broad range of rural people to contribute projects and media efforts that embody the value, diversity, and nuance of contemporary rural culture and inspire lasting connections to rural people and places.

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