Leading in the Rural Hill Country

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Leading in the Rural Hill Country

A partnership program of the H. E. Butt Foundation and Hill Country Alliance

Leading in the Rural Hill Country envisions a healthy and thriving Texas Rural Hill Country through a collaborating network of diverse leaders – both emerging and established. To help make this vision a reality, we work to connect leaders in the Texas Rural Hill Country so that we can identify common challenges, share solutions, and pursue opportunities for our region’s future.

Our programming focuses on convening local leaders to better connect neighbors facing similar challenges across the rural Hill Country with resources and community mentorship opportunities.

Upcoming 2023 Events – Rural Roundup Series

In 2023, the Leading in the Rural Hill Country collaboration is launching a new, traveling series – the Rural Roundup – set to host four events over the course of the year. Each event will showcase a different Hill Country community and a unique program, challenge, or lesson learned within. Topics will range from local education opportunities to development planning in light of unprecedented growth, from Junction to Leakey. The series will conclude in November with a one-day symposium in Leakey, TX.

Get Involved

Join the Facebook Group

Become part of the conversation – join our Facebook Group and stay in the loop on what’s happening in your part of the Hill Country! Click the button below to join or visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/leadinginthereuralhillcountry/ 

Learn More

History of this Collaboration

The Leading in the Rural Hill Country collaboration started in December of 2016 at the Leakey ISD Cafetorium, with a one-day event hosted in partnership with Texas A&M Texas Rural Leadership Program. In 2020, we formalized leadership with a volunteer-led Steering Committee in 2020 and our programming went virtual with a series of lunch-and-learn quarterly meetings. In 2021, we returned to in-person events with a rejuvenating Leadership Symposium in Leakey – featuring keynote Craig Rotter, Executive Director of the Texas Rural Leadership Program.

Over the past seven years, Leading in the Rural Hill Country events have brought together dozens of local leaders at events aimed at Hill Country residents from Junction to Sabinal. To date, events have covered a variety of topics, such as asset-based community development, stewarding natural resources, and grant writing and board engagement. Our work specifically focuses on supporting leaders in Real, Uvalde, Bandera, Edwards, Kerr, & Kimble Counties.

As our collaboration continues, we are excited to bring in additional partners and local leaders from across the rural Hill Country.

Mission: Connecting leaders in the Texas Rural Hill Country to: 1) identify common challenges, 2) share solutions, and 3) pursue opportunities.

Areas of Focus

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(1) Identify common problems
  • Diverse regional steering committee members, reflective of the rural hill country, help set programming
  • Inclusive voices from folks with lived experience determine our content and include diversity in age and socioeconomic status
  • Identification of problems includes a notion of what the “root” of the problems might be
(2) Share solutions
  • Authentic to community, we seek out both formal and informal equitable solutions from individual, group, and community viewpoints
  • Obstacles to sharing solutions are minimized through varied and accessible platforms and include specific case studies. Process is valued as much as outcome.
  • Compelling and hands on solutions are shared in ways that make it easier for others to understand, apply, and be inspired by those solutions
(3) Pursue opportunities
  • Curiosity guides our path to prioritize opportunities
  • Participating leaders follow-up on resources that lead to thriving communities
  • Participating leaders are accessing new resources, connecting with new networks, and forming new solutions through a deeper understanding of existing community solutions in other communities

Five Pillars

Economic Development pillar
Education Access and Quality pillar
Neighborhood and Built Environment pillar
Healthcare Access and Quality pillar
Natural Resources and Infrastructure pillar

Steering Committee

  • Carol Neiman, Board Member – City of Junction Economic Development Corporation
  • Cliff Kaplan, Program Director – Hill Country Alliance
  • Dr. Craig Rotter, Executive Director of the Texas Rural Leadership Program – Texas A&M University
  • Cynthia Casburn, Municipal Court Judge and Justice of the Peace – City of Sabinal
  • Dana Williams, Director of Community Engagement – H. E. Butt Foundation
  • Kate Stanford, State and Local Government Senior Consultant – Guidehouse
  • Leah Cuddeback, Storytelling and Public Engagement Manager – Hill Country Alliance
  • Rebeca Gibson, Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District Board Member and Mayor – City of Bandera

Contact Us:

Leading in the Rural Hill Country is a partnership program of the H. E. Butt Foundation and Hill Country Alliance. Please contact Dana Williams, Director of Community Engagement at H. E. Butt Foundation or Cliff Kaplan, Program Director at Hill Country Alliance for additional questions, events, and ways to get involved.