The Rural Center's Governing Board
The Rural Center is governed by a board of directors representing state and local leadership in business, agriculture, education, government and numerous other areas of public service. Nine members (three each) are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The other members are elected by the board for two-year terms.
The business arm of the board is its executive committee. Programmatic oversight is provided by four committees: business development, workforce development, physical infrastructure and civic infrastructure. Board members also serve on a number of standing and special-issue committees.
The full board meets three times each year, generally in October, February and August. Meetings of other committees are held as needed.
Board of Directors
(* denotes members of the executive committee)
Ted Alexander, Shelby
Ted Alexander directs the western regional office of Preservation North Carolina. He is chairman of New Wilderness Adventures ministry, a member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Partnership Board and a member of the board of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission.
Andy Anderson,* Whiteville
Andy Anderson is president and co-owner of Community Innovations, a health-care company with more than 1,700 employees. He also is a motivational speaker on the state and national level. Currently mayor pro tem of Whiteville, he was the first African American elected to the city council of his hometown. In 2000, he traveled to Europe on an American Marshall Memorial Fellowship to discuss social and economic issues with NATO and European Union officials.
Rex L. Baker, King
Rex L. Baker is a small business owner in the Stokes County town of King. He retired from a career as an R.J. Reynolds executive before taking the helm of King Foods in 1989. He served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. During that time, he co-chaired the House Appropriations Committee and sat on the Agriculture Committee.
Leslie Boney, Chapel Hill
Leslie Boney serves as the UNC system's vice president for international, community and economic engagement. Before joining UNC, he was a senior associate with MDC Inc., a nonprofit research firm specializing in economic and workforce development. He serves on the Southern Growth Policies Board, the N.C. Economic Development Board and the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.
Janice Brumit, Asheville
Janice Brumit is a real estate developer and former restaurant owner and manager. A Boone native, she and her husband, Joe, sold their 36 Arby’s restaurants in 2007. Today, Brumit serves as chair of the UNC-Asheville Board of Trustees and as chair of the management board of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
James S. Bryan, Wilmington
James S. Bryan is executive vice president for the Southeast region of First Citizens Bank. He is past chairman of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, past chairman of the New Hanover Communities in Schools and a charter member of the N.C. Partners Leadership Council.
Everette Clark, Marion
Everette Clark is the owner of Clark Realty in Marion, N.C. and served as mayor from 1985 to 2009. In addition to serving on boards of several professional real estate organizations, Clark currently serves in the North Carolina League of Municipalities, the National League of Cities, the North Carolina Community Development Council and was awarded the Elected Official Distinguished Leadership Award by the N.C. chapter of the American Planning Association in 2006.
J. Keith Crisco, Raleigh
Keith Crisco was appointed secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce by Gov. Beverly Perdue in January. For more than 20 years, he served as president and chair of Asheboro Elastics, a company he co-founded in 1986. Crisco has served as chair of the Pfeiffer University board of trustees, the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research and the National Elastic Manufacturer’s Association. He also served on the Asheboro City Council and the board of Randolph Community College.
Brian Crutchfield,* Lenoir
Brian Crutchfield is the former director of sustainable development for the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. During a 30-year career in economic development, Crutchfield helped leverage more than $250 million in corporate investments and created thousands of jobs in rural communities. He sits on the board of the N.C. Community Foundation and a number of local economic development organizations.
Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount
Lige Daughtridge owns Daughtridge Sales Co and is chairman of the board of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the City of Rocky Mount Planning Board, the Rocky Mount Academy Board of Trustees and the North Carolina Wesleyan College Board of Visitors. He received the 2010 The Chambers – Woody Brown Award and the 2011 NEER Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Ilana Dubester, Pittsboro
Ilana Dubester served as the southern program coordinator for the Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities from July 2003 until June 2008. Previously, she was the executive director of El Vínculo Hispano/Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County. She chairs the social justice committee of the Governor’s Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs and serves on the foreign language task force of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
S. Lewis Ebert, Raleigh
S. Lewis Ebert is president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, a statewide business advocacy organization with 35,000 members. There, he is building the Chamber Federation, a statewide advocacy partnership of local chambers and their small business members. He previously led the Kansas Chamber and spent 23 years with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
Patricia Ferguson, Colerain
Patricia Ferguson is a former chair of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. She has received the Brock Award as N.C. County Commissioner of the Year, the National Association of Development Organization’s Innovation Award and the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award. She currently serves on the board of the N.C. Partnership for Children.
Bill Gibson,* Sylva
Bill Gibson has served as executive director of the Region A Council of Local Governments in southwestern North Carolina since 1975. He is the chair of the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Community Development Council, vice chair of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, vice chair of the Region A Partnership for Children and a board member of the Western North Carolina Housing Partnership.
William T. "Kim" Griffin, Durham
Scott T. Hamilton, Fletcher
Scott Hamilton is president and CEO of AdvantageWest. He previously served as president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development. He is president of the North Carolina Economic Developers Association and a member of the North Carolina Economic Development Board, the Governor’s Commission on Workforce Development and the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundation Board of Directors.
CeCe Hipps, Waynesville
CeCe Hipps is president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. She previously worked with chambers in Asheville and Cary. She serves on the board of the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Folkmoot International Festival and Mountain Bizworks. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina.
Lenna Hobson, Boonville
Lenna Hobson is owner and operator of RagApple Lassie Vineyards in Boonville. An Alleghany County native, Hobson is a co-founder and former president of the Foothills Arts Council and helped establish the Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity, serving as its president for several years.
Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, Elizabeth City
Lenora Jarvis-Mackey is president and CEO of River City Community Development Corp. Previously, she was director of the Center for Rural and Coastal Living at Elizabeth City State University. She is a member of the board of the N.C. Affordable Housing Coalition and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. She also belongs to the National Congress for Community Economic Development.
Brenden H. Jones, Tabor City
Brendan Jones is a small business owner and native of Tabor City. He serves on the Columbus County Board of Elections and as a member of the Tabor City Committee of 100.
Alice M. Keeney,* Swan Quarter
Alice M. Keeney is the former county planner and economic developer for Hyde County. She previously was headmaster at Pungo Christian Academy in Belhaven and was in commercial lending for over 20 years in Baltimore. She serves as president of the Engelhard Medical Center’s board and as a board member of the Coastal Studies Institute Foundation, Pocosin Arts and the Outer Banks History Center.
Cicely C. McCulloch, Elkin
Cicely McCulloch has owned and operated Diana's Bookstore for 20 years. She also is the owner and developer of the Liberty Project. She serves in the Elkin town board, co-chairs the Reeves Theater Restoration Project and is a member of Downtown Elkin Inc.
Wayne McDevitt, Marshall
Wayne McDevitt, an entrepreneur, is vice chair of the North Carolina State Board of Education and sits on the board of Leadership North Carolina. He is a former senior vice president of the University of North Carolina System. He also served as chief of staff for former Gov. Jim Hunt and as secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
John Nelms, Wake
John Nelms is the Economic Development Manager for Duke Energy, coordinating and managing economic development activity for the legacy Progress Energy territory in Eastern North Carolina. John began his career at Progress Energy in 2005 as a Business Development Executive in Economic Development, covering a 12 county region in SE North Carolina. Prior to joining Progress Energy, his career included stints at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the NC Department of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development.
Allan Oocumma, Cherokee
Allan Oocumma is the assistant to the general manager of the Cherokee Boys Club in Cherokee. He chairs the local emergency planning committee of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the advisory committee of the Cherokee Reservation’s Cooperative Extension Program. He serves on the strategic planning council of North Carolina A&T State University’s Cooperative Extension Program and is a member of Cherokee Historical Association.
Chris Parrish, Smithfield
Chris Parrish is co-owner of Parrish Manor Incorporated. The Smithfield native is founder and president of the Nessie Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit serving at-risk youth, and was chosen as Tar Heel of the Week in January 2012. He has served on the board and as president of several industry organizations, including the NC Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, the Manufactured Housing Institute and the National Communities Council.
Robert B. Partin, Scotland Neck
Robert Partin is a retired educator, school administrator and coach. He served as mayor of his native Scotland Neck for 10 years and as a town commissioner for several terms prior to that. During his last term as mayor of Scotland Neck, Partin was elected president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.
Marsha K. Prestage, Clinton
Scott Ralls, Raleigh
Scott Ralls is president of the North Carolina Community College System and a board member of the North Carolina New Schools Project. Ralls has previously served as president of Craven Community College and as director of the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment and Training.
Alan Rice, Yadkinville
Alan Rice is executive director of RFD Community Development Corp. and director of rural ministry and community development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also serves as senior minister at Crossfire UMC, a congregation of bikers and working folk. Before entering the ministry, he was an executive in a general contracting firm.
Mikki Sager,* Chapel Hill
Mikki Sager is vice president of the Conservation Fund in charge of the Resourceful Communities Program, which promotes sustainable economic development, social justice and environmental stewardship in the state’s poorest communities. She was a founding member of the N.C. Partnership for the Sounds in eastern North Carolina and of the New River Community Partners in the west.
Cleveland Simpson, Rocky Point
Cleveland Simpson is the former assistant secretary for community development in the N.C. Department of Commerce. In 1988 he retired as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. After returning to his native Pender County, he worked with GlenMar Technical Services in Benson. He has served on the Pender Board of Commissioners, the Pender County Board of Health and the Governor’s Jobs for Veterans Committee.
Joseph Stanley,* Shallotte
Joseph Stanley is vice president of Joe & Moe’s Auto Services and owner of Joe’s Photography, both in Shallotte. He previously was a branch manager for United Carolina Bank. He serves on the South Brunswick Islands Committee of 100, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Advisory Board and the FOR ENC Board of Directors. He received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognition in 2001.
Steven W. Troxler, Raleigh
Steven W. Troxler became North Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture in 2005, capping off a lifetime in agriculture, and was re-elected this fall. As owner and operator of Troxler Farms, he has produced tobacco, wheat, vegetables and soybeans. He also is active in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and serves on the board of the N.C. Biotechnology Center.
Jennifer Tolle Whiteside,* Raleigh
Jennifer Tolle Whiteside is president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation, which administers more than $118 million in assets. Tolle Whiteside previously served as president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse and was co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, a 36-member legislative study commission. She received the 2005 U.S. Commissioner’s Award for her work on behalf of North Carolina’s children.
Greg Winkler, Raleigh
Greg Winkler serves as president of Wells Fargo’s Raleigh market. In this role, he also leads business banking services for a region stretching from the Triangle to the coast. An accountant by training, Winkler has previously held banking positions in Indiana,Ohio and California.
Larry Wooten,* Raleigh
2nd Vice Chair
Larry Wooten has served as president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation since 1999. For more than 20 years, he ran a diversified tobacco and grain farming operation with his brother. He has served on the board of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Pender County Board of Education and the N.C. Board of Agriculture.
Curtis Wynn,* Ahoskie
Curtis Wynn is executive vice president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative. He previously held a number of positions, including vice president, with West Florida Electric Cooperative. He serves on the board of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association and is a board member and past president of the N.C. Electric Membership Cooperatives Association. He also chairs the Halifax Economic Development Commission.
Thomas W. Lambeth, Winston-Salem
Kelly S. King, Winston-Salem
Robert Jordan, Mount Gilead