Story submitted by Lavina Grandon, Rural Community Alliance President
Candace Williams and Renee Carr
If you have been associated with Rural Community Alliance at all for the past several years, you already know these two women, who this month will take on new roles within the organization.
Renee Carr has ably led RCA as Executive Director since 2008. She has seen it through a name change and an expansion of mission from solely advocating for rural schools and students to also revitalizing rural communities and building a movement to renew rural Arkansas. Under her leadership the organization has grown from 30 chapters with about 650 members to 65 chapters and almost 1,800 members.Renee led grassroots campaigns for several important pieces of legislation, including parent engagement standards, repurposing of abandoned school buildings, and a waiver from Act 60 consolidations of schools with fewer than 350 students. She also steered RCA’s course in advocacy for rural schools and students in the Opportunity to Learn Campaign, the Formula Fairness Campaign, the Grade Level Reading Campaign, and the Faster Arkansas effort to improve broadband for K-12 schools.
Candace Williams first joined RCA at age 17 as a youth board member. Later she became a full board member and then moved from the board to the position of Assistant Executive Director in 2013. As Assistant Executive Director, Candace has been responsible for planning events, networking with state partners, attending legislative meetings, and overseeing projects. Candace took an active role in the Act 60 interim study and has been an important part of the Elaine Theater Project and Eudora Reads.
As of May 15, 2015, Renee will be serving as the Chief Financial Officer of RCA, while Candace will take on the role of Executive Director, effectively dividing the work that Renee has been doing for the past seven years.
This decision was reached after a two-year strategic planning process to strengthen the organization and make it sustainable for the future. The division of roles is seen as a way of dividing and making more manageable responsibilities that have grown as the organization’s mission and membership have expanded.
Renee, a Certified Public Accountant, is eminently qualified to serve as Chief Financial Officer. She will continue to handle financial records, grant compliance, and payroll duties, as well as doing some organizing in her home region.
From the time that Candace graduated from college until she joined the staff of RCA, she worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a Biological Science Technician, performing community-based research, designing and product nutrition modules, databases, instruments, materials and documents. As Executive Director, she will oversee the statewide work of RCA, interact with funders and partners, and direct staff. After August 1 she will be working out of a central office in downtown Little Rock.
Rural Community Alliance is truly blessed to have the guidance of these two exceptional leaders who are rooted in rural Arkansas and grounded in truth and justice.