Evolution at the Appalachia Funders Network

Dear Appalachia Funders Network Members,

We write to you today with tremendous excitement. The Appalachia Funders Network is in the best place it has ever been, with more than 60 state, regional, and national members, driving transformative change across the region.  We have come to an important decision: now is the time for the Appalachia Funders Network to hire its first dedicated Executive Director and transition the daily management responsibilities to a full-time staff.

The success of the Network, the complexity of its current work, and opportunities on the horizon made clear to Steering Committee members, as well as our long standing partner RSP, the need for a new in-house staffing structure. We are targeting our work toward racial equity, attracting new money to the region, and weaving incredibly strong relationships across our membership. As a mature Network, we have a solid national reputation, and serve as the entry point for philanthropies and investors seeking to invest in Central Appalachia. The Network is poised to expand our impact and need a Network structure that will support the breadth and depth of our work. 

Your Network Steering Committee and our network management team, Rural Support Partners (RSP), recently convened to review the Network’s current stage of development and determine how to best structure AFN for high-impact opportunities emerging over the coming years. Together, we decided upon a six-month transition plan, so that the management of the Network will be transferred from RSP to a new Executive Director come January 2022. Until that time, RSP will support the Network as it always has, so please continue to reach out to Thomas, Lindsey, and Fairleigh as needed.

The Funders Network partnership with Rural Support Partners has been instrumental to getting us where we are today. RSP is an incredible team and will be greatly missed by all Network members. Fortunately, we know RSP remains deeply dedicated to the Funders Network and the region and will continue to do great work as partners in a just and equitable Appalachian Transition.

What’s next? Over the next several months, the Steering Committee, with your input and guidance, will be conducting a thorough search to find the first Executive Director of the Network. It is our priority to find a visionary and dynamic leader with a true passion for our mission. Our search is under way and we look forward to announcing the successful candidate when chosen.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to each of us with any questions you may have.

In Service,

Michelle Foster and Lora Smith, Co-Chairs, Appalachia Funders Network 

Thomas Watson, Owner/Managing Director, Rural Support Partners