What Is The ACE Act and How Does It Impact Your Community?

Two upcoming sessions for AFN Members and Their Partners

What is the ACE Act and How Does It Impact Your Community?  At a time when longstanding inequities in philanthropy are taking center stage, all of us are faced with immense challenges and opportunities.  

One very public effort to promote far reaching change is the Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act (“ACE Act”), which proposes modifications to rules governing philanthropy and charitable giving.  Join the Appalachia Funders Network as we explore this proposed federal legislation through the lens of funding inequities for people of color and rural places.

Session #1: April 20 1:30 - 2:30 pm ET. 


Stephanie Ellis-Smith, Co-Founder and Board member at Giving Gap (formerly GiveBlck) 

David Kass, Vice President of Government Affairs and Strategic Communications at The Council on Foundations

Introduction: Marian Clowes, Associate Director for Community Leadership at Parkersburg Area Community Foundation

Moderator: Kit Matthew, Executive Director at AFN

Session #2 May 4, 12:30 - 1:30 pm ET. 


Kerry Pigman, Executive Director, Athens County Foundation

Susie Nelson, Executive Director, Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley

Judy Sjostedt Ritchie, Executive Director, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation

Gerry Roll, Executive Director, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky

Moderator: Dan Parks, Senior Editor, Digital and Data at The Chronicle of Philanthropy

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Recreation Economy for Rural Communities in Appalachia

AFN members and their partners joined an engaging speaker event on March 30, 12:30-2:00 pm EST.


Steph Bertaina from EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization shared lessons from the pilot round of the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program.

RERC is a federal interagency program supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA Forest Service, the Northern Border Regional Commission, and many other federal and state agency partners. The program provides planning assistance to small towns and rural communities to help them leverage growing interest in outdoor recreation to diversify their economies and and strengthen their main streets.



Cora Gnegy, Tourism Marketing Director for Giles County, Virginia, shared her experiences with the RERC program and success stories from what this central Appalachian community has accomplished since participating in the program.

Building Community Capacity, Support Systems and the Economic Ecosystem

Headshot of Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin

March 22, 12:30-1:30 PM EST

AFN members are invited to join Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin for a conversation about the core tenets of ARC’s 5 year strategic plan—from building community leaders to providing workforce supports—as well as funding opportunities in the region.  

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Sarah Smarsh Speaker Session

Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland, A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, delivered a keynote-style talk to Network members on February 11.  Kit Matthew, AFN’s new Executive Director, welcomed members and set the context for the talk. Sarah talked about her connections with Appalachia as someone who writes about rural struggles and her choice to focus on rural stories among her mostly urban peers in national journalism. She also took us on her personal journey as she wrote Heartland. And she discussed how rural narratives (both true and false ones) relate to the current political moment. 

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AFN Announces new Executive Director Dr. Kit Matthew

We are pleased to introduce Dr. Kit Matthew as the new executive director of AFN. Kit brings cross-sector experiences—in community development, cultural leadership, corporate product development, grant making, government affairs, fundraising campaigns, and operational improvements—to the new role of AFN’s Executive Director. Currently, Kit is an expert consultant with the St. David's Foundation focused on developing new investment strategies to strengthen the Social Determinants of Health for underserved and rural communities through cultural nonprofits and their social service partners.  

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