Patrick is the president and CEO of the NC Rural Center. He is a product of our state’s public schools, including Piney Creek Elementary School in Piney Creek and Alleghany High School in Sparta. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 1987 and from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1990.
After law school, Patrick worked briefly for Congressman Steve Neal before becoming the first executive director of the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Sparta. From 1992-1999, Patrick served as director of the chamber and as the lead economic developer for the county, successfully recruiting two new industries to the county that were the top new investments in the entire state in 1994 and 1998.
Toward the end of Patrick’s chamber tenure, a collaborative effort led by the Alleghany Chamber resulted in the New River being named one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in the United States by President Bill Clinton in July of 1998. Nine months later, Patrick left the chamber to become the first executive director of a startup nonprofit, New River Community Partners, the lead organization responsible for coordinating and leading the basin-wide implementation of a sustainable economic development plan encompassing three northwestern North Carolina counties, 11 southwestern Virginia counties, and seven southern West Virginia counties.
In 2000, Patrick was elected to the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners. In 2003, Patrick, still director of New River Community Partners was simultaneously named executive director of the Blue Ridge Business Development Center, a revitalization project in Sparta that was an initiative of New River Community Partners. The project involved the renovation of an abandoned textile plant—the place his mother had worked for 42 years—into a state-of- the-art technology and education center focused on transitioning the region’s old manufacturing economy to a new more diversified economic base for northwestern North Carolina.
In March of 2006, Patrick lost his father, a retired school teacher. He then made the difficult decision to leave his home county in October of 2006 to become vice president of programs for the North Carolina Rural Center. As a graduate of the Center’s Rural Economic Development Institute and a member of the Center’s board of directors from 1997 to 2000, Patrick already had a long history with–and connection to–the NC Rural Center.
In 2013, he was named president of the NC Rural Center and led the organization through a major transition, repositioning the Center into a new era of work and community engagement but still focused on the singular mission to serve the people and places of rural North Carolina.
“I can’t imagine work that is more rewarding or more important to me that the work I’ve been able to do at the Rural Center. It’s enabled me to experience every nook and cranny of the ‘goodliest land under the cope of heaven’ and to do work that maintains a deep connection with the place and people of Piney Creek, who gave me everything I have needed to live a very blessed life.”