Fellows & Associates
The Center for Rural Strategies works with an extensive range of allied individuals who share our values and offer skills in media production, journalism, research, project management, and other disciplines. We rely on these partners to help us spot opportunities, develop our work, and remain focused on the issues that are most important for rural communities. Some of our key partners include the following:
Bill Bishop is an award-winning journalist who, with Julie Ardery, founded the Daily Yonder, Rural Strategies’ rural news platform. Bill got his start in the news business at the Mountain Eagle, the storied Eastern Kentucky weekly newspaper known for taking on destructive coal companies and corrupt politicians. He was special projects reporter for the Austin American-Statesman and associate editor of the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader. He is the author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of America is Tearing us Apart (Houghton Mifflin, with co-author Robert Cushing), a ground-breaking book that uses extensive data analysis to document the rise of political segregation in America. Bill continues as a Daily Yonder contributing editor, reporting on employment and community development. He lives in LaGrange, Texas.
Edyael joined Rural Strategies after serving as a consultant for our efforts in the Gulf Coast in the fall and winter of 2006-2007. She has worked with the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educational pursuits and community youth leadership, beginning when she was a sophomore at Edcouch-Elsa High School in Elsa, Texas. Edyael is one of four founders of the Llano Grande Center’s Spanish Language Immersion Institute, and she led several community based research initiatives in her rural South Texas home town. She was born in México, and immigrated to the United States when she was 12. Edyael received a B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a master's degree in Latin American Studies at Ohio University in Athens. She is currently enrolled in the University of Colorado Law School.
Her work with Rural Strategies included leading our telecommunications policy efforts and coordinating the Rural Broadband Policy Group, a national coalition of rural groups advocating for policies that increase access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet service in rural areas. She is active in the Immigration and Rural Communities Working Group of the National Rural Assembly and also helps steer the immigration advocacy efforts of the Center for Rural Strategies. Edyael was an Internet Rights Fellow with Public Knowledge in Washington, D.C.
Katharine Pearson Criss
Katharine Pearson Criss, a Senior Fellow since January of 2014, was a founding board member of the Center for Rural Strategies and continued in that role until January 2004. During that time she was employed as the Ford Foundation’s Representative for Eastern Africa. She was involved there in supporting the growth of Africa-based philanthropy including the Africa Foundations Learning Group, the Kenya Community Development Foundation and the East Africa Association of Grantmakers. Upon leaving Ford, she became vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies in 2004 and helped in the creation of the National Rural Assembly. She directed the “Donors Ourselves” video project and edited a collection of essays of the same name. She also coordinated the Rural Development Philanthropy Initiative with partners from around the US. Since becoming a Senior Fellow, she has specialized in assisting communities and donors in looking at strategies to increase local philanthropic assets, especially in rural communities.
Karen Fasimpaur, K12 Handhelds, is an enthusiastic builder of communities including virtual ones. She has worked in technology and education for over 20 years, with a recent focus on non-profit organizations. After moving to an extremely rural area 10 years ago, Fasimpaur grew interested in the policy issues that affect rural communities. Previously, she has run an international technology integration company, worked in software development and textbook publishing, and taught elementary and adult education.
Roberto Gallardo, Ph.D., a Rural Strategies Senior Fellow, is the leader of the Mississippi State University Extension Service Intelligent Community Institute. The institute helps small towns and rural communities organize around digital inclusion. Roberto is Rural Strategies’ primary statistician and will supervise research on various data-driven reporting projects. Roberto is from Mexico and holds a Ph.D. in community development from Mississippi State University.
Timothy Lampkin is an emerging Mississippi Delta leader who returned to his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, after working for a national corporation. He is working with Rural Strategies to produce a multimedia series on creative rural leaders in the Mississippi Delta. He will advise Rural Strategies on content and messaging for young people.