Katharine Ferguson of The Aspen Institute announced as Keynote Speaker for 2019 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards to be held November 7

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2019

Katharine Ferguson of The Aspen Institute announced as Keynote Speaker for 2019 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards to be held Nov. 7

Katharine Ferguson - Annual Dinner Keynote Speaker 2019

Katharine Ferguson of The Aspen Institute

DUBOIS, Pa. – Registration is now open for the 2019 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards, which will take place on November 7 and will celebrate both Champions of the Pennsylvania Wilds Award winners and the Pennsylvania Wilds as a Rural Development Hub. Fittingly, Katharine Ferguson, Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group and Director of CSG’s Regional and Rural Development Initiatives, will keynote the event and report on innovative community and economic development models in rural America.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC., released a research brief in early 2019 on Rural Development Hubs, via the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. The brief presented topline findings from interviews with 40 field-leading Rural Development Hubs in the United States.

In the research brief, the organization noted, “Hubs are a special breed of rural and regional intermediaries, organizations at the heart of positive development-and-inclusion action in rural places, and primary players advancing a fresh approach to community and economic development. They think of their job as identifying and connecting community assets to market demand to build lasting livelihoods, always including marginalized people, places and firms in both the action and the benefits.”

Earl Gohl, former Federal Co-Chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission and keynote speaker at the 2018 PA Wilds Annual Dinner, was the first to identify the PA Wilds initiative as a Rural Development Hub, sparking a conversation between the PA Wilds Center and the Aspen Institute.

“We think Katharine’s message about rural community and economic development hubs speaks directly to the work that is being accomplished across the Pennsylvania Wilds and will resonate with the many stakeholders we partner with every day, from entrepreneurs and creative producers to community and civic leaders,” said Ta Enos, CEO and Founder of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center), a nonprofit organization that seeks to integrate conservation and economic development within the 13-county region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.

The 2019 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards will be held Thursday, November 7, 2019 at the DuBois Country Club, 10 Lakeside Ave, DuBois, PA 15801.

The program will spotlight the Champion of the Pennsylvania Wild Awards – given out annually to individuals, groups, organizations, communities and businesses that in the last year have made significant contributions to help grow and sustainably develop the outdoor recreation economy and nature tourism in the Pennsylvania Wilds in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life.

Hosted by the PA Wilds Center in coordination with the PA Wilds Planning Team, the event is the premier annual networking opportunity in the Pennsylvania Wilds, where more than 250 state and regional representatives, business and community leaders and citizens come together to talk about how nature and heritage tourism efforts are positively impacting area communities.

Event registration is now open at https://www.pawildscenter.org/awards-dinner/registration

The Aspen Institute’s Rural Development Hub Brief:

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/rural-development-hubs-strengthening-americas-rural-innovation-infrastructure/

About Our Keynote Speaker, Katharine Ferguson

Katharine Ferguson is with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. Committed to civic engagement, bridging perceived divides and systems change, Katharine served in the Obama Administration as Chief of Staff for the White House Domestic Policy Council and as Chief of Staff for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Previously, Katharine worked as U.S. Senate staff on issues ranging from community economic development, economic and social mobility, agriculture to food, public health and nutrition. Regardless of the topic at hand, Katharine’s interest is in the practical challenges of institutional change, policy implementation, and collaborative governance with a strong preference for working in places often overlooked or flown-over. A graduate of Tufts University, Katharine holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. While often in small-town America and Washington D.C., Katharine lives in her hometown of Denver, Colorado.

About the Aspen Institute

Since 1985, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) has helped convene, equip and inspire local leaders as they build more prosperous regions and advance those living on the economic margins – with more than 75% of that work in rural America.  Through the years, CSG has learned from the people doing the best work of building and rebuilding strong, inclusive rural communities and economies, cultivating a deep and broad network of the nation’s most creative and dedicated practitioners of rural community and economic development, all eager to forge a better rural future.  Today the Community Strategies Group is harnessing its wisdom from decades of on-the-ground experience to link academics, practitioners and policy makers and advance an asset-based approach to community economic development that prioritizes wealth creation, ownership, and prosperity for all.

About the Pennsylvania Wilds

The Pennsylvania Wilds, one of the state’s 11 official tourism regions, covers about a quarter of the Commonwealth and includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, and the northern part of Centre county. The region is known for its more than 2 million acres of public land, and also boasts two National Wild & Scenic Rivers, some of the darkest skies in the country and the largest wild elk herd in the Northeast. Visitors spend an estimated $1.7 billion in the region each year, according to the most recent statistics. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds. For more information on the PA Wilds Center’s programs and services, please visit www.pawildscenter.org. More information about the Pennsylvania Wilds region can be found at www.pawilds.com.

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