Jim Beddow of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was elected Rural Schools Collaborative board chair for 2017-18 at the organization’s recent board planning session in Kansas City, Missouri. Beddow succeeds Renee Carr of Fox, Arkansas.
Carr, who is the chief financial officer for Arkansas’ Rural Community Alliance, presided over what was a very productive year for the Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC). In just its second operational year, RSC had a number of outstanding organizational accomplishments, including:
- Successfully launching and completing a three-year $350,000 capitalization campaign to stabilize RSC operations.
- Establishing six operational hubs in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin.
- Partnering with more than twenty funders and donors to award $136,000 in Grants in Place awards to 45 teachers in 11 states, and
- Continuing to promote the Rural Teacher Corps initiative through outreach and an online conference.
“We all appreciate the leadership that Renee provided this past year to our still new organization,” said Gary Funk, RSC director. “Her financial expertise and experience at building a statewide grassroots effort in her home state of Arkansas were really invaluable to us as we moved forward.”
Carr will remain on the board and joins Murphysboro, Illinois’ David Ardrey as chair emeriti.
Dr. Jim Beddow is a product of small town South Dakota. He grew up observing his father, an implement dealer, investing deeply in his community as mayor and civic leader. Beddow’s professional journey took him to the University of Oklahoma for a doctorate in rural history and an assortment of teaching and administrative assignments in small colleges ending with a 13-year presidency at Dakota Wesleyan University.
Jim has spent much of his professional life creating and supporting rural-centric initiatives and collaborations including the James River Collaborative, the Rural Housing Collaborative, and the Rural Learning Center. He is a co-founder of the Rural Weaver Consulting group and is currently engaged with several statewide and regional rural education initiatives focusing on helping rural communities and schools “Get Better Together.” Jim and his wife, Jean, reside in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Beddow believes the Rural Schools Collaborative’s emphasis on narrative is more important than ever. At the recent planning session Jim commented, “When we share stories about our rural schools and places, caring and like-minded people will emerge."