2023 Keynotes Announced

September 27 @ 9:00 AM | The Colonial Theater Mainstage

Join us for a keynote panel on building a narrative that elevates rural as a place of opportunity through storytelling of local leaders. Speakers include:

Gloria Dickerson lives in Sunflower County, Mississippi and is the founder and CEO of We2gether Creating Change, a not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to be a change agent in the transformation of the Mississippi Delta from a perceived place of poverty, low skills, and despair to a place of prosperity, abundant skills, and hope.


Lakota Vogel lives in Eagle Butte, South Dakota and is the executive director at Four Bands Community Fund, a nonprofit organization that was founded as a part of a community economic development movement on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The objective of the foundation is to capitalize Native American-owned businesses on the Reservation.

The session moderator, Tony Pipa, is a senior fellow in the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution. Tony’s current work includes leading the Reimaging Rural Policy initiative and the Local Leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals initiative. He has three decades of executive leadership experience in the philanthropic and public sectors addressing poverty and advancing inclusive economic development in the U.S. and globally.

September 28 @ 9:00 AM | The Colonial Theater Mainstage

The Day Two keynote address by Chris Estes will explore how a new rural framework can create a shared understanding and direction for equitable and sustainable rural prosperity. By identifying key building blocks at the local and systems levels, we can create stronger and more cohesive work and messaging. Chris Estes is the co-executive director of the Aspen Institute Communities Strategy Group (CSG). His current work is centered on the policy and program implications of the Thrive Rural framework for equitable rural prosperity. CSG is focused on building the field of equitable rural development with particular engagement with long-time under invested rural communities by lifting up practitioner voice, facilitating peer learning and bringing systemic change to philanthropic and public funding efforts in rural places.

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Sponsors