Joe Woody, USDA Rural Development, Tennessee

How did you get involved in community development?

When I was president of the agribusiness club at the University of Tennessee, we attended a workshop at USDA RD. Afterwards, they told me that there was an interview with students for an internship with USDA RD. That was in 1992 and I’ve been with Rural Development ever since. It goes to show you how important it is to get involved and build relationships with professors and people you meet when you’re in school. We try to keep that cycle going and open those doors for promising students interested in business, economics & community development to connect to RD. We see the internships as great opportunities for students to start careers with RD or community development. I have maintained my relationships with faculty at University of Tennessee in the Agriculture and Resource Economics Department.  It affords me the opportunity to return every year to present to juniors and seniors about working for RD and starting this type of career. 

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Terri Donlin Huesman, Osteopathic Heritage Foundations

How did you get involved in philanthropy and specifically in the field of health-focused philanthropy?

For nearly 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of working in health philanthropy focused on collaboration, partnership and measurable and sustainable improvements. While the Foundation structure has been in existence since the early 1960’s, owning and operating a hospital system, it was the 1998 hospital-system-asset sale that prompted the transition to a private Foundation with a mission to improve health and quality of life in central and southeastern Ohio. 

Prior to the asset sale, my responsibilities included fundraising and development activities to support the hospital’s community outreach and services. I then transitioned to focus on the development and implementation of the Foundation’s proactive grantmaking strategy and processes. Over the past decade, the field of philanthropy has evolved, including the advent of formal education programs, such as the Indiana University School of Philanthropy. These programs provide opportunities for professional development and training that are preparing the next generation of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders.  

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Annual Gathering Proceedings

The Appalachia Funders Network published proceedings papers for its first five annual gatherings. Click below to access their downloadable version. 

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Susan Urano, The Athens Foundation

How did you get involved in philanthropy?

There’s a personal story behind my move to the Athens Foundation. After 20 years as an arts administrator, the Founder of the Athens Foundation, who was a tremendous advocate for community development as well as a mentor, called me and asked me to consider applying for the director position at the Athens Foundation. I was grateful to her for the opportunity to have an impact on our region. There’s a high level of poverty in Athens County and to start to move the needle, we need to understand the significance of economic development in the region.

The Athens Foundation doesn’t have a specific economic development focus; we fund community improvement and quality of life projects in education, health, community improvement, arts and recreation, the environment, human services, and animal welfare. We also collaborate with economic development groups in the area.

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Appalachian Transition Video

Watch this video present voices of hope from those in Appalachia doing the innovative work of building wealth within a region on the brink of change. Produced by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in association with the Appalachia Funders Network.