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Virginia Rural Center Announces Program Director
of New Rural Leadership Development Program


In his new role, Chris will collaborate with members of the business community, policymakers, agencies, and organizations at the federal, state, and local levels to develop a program that seeks to find and grow rural leaders while empowering them to become highly valuable citizens in their community. This summer he will be focused on building and recruiting the first ever premiere rural leadership program for Virginia citizens and meeting one-on-one with rural stakeholders across the Commonwealth.  


“The Virginia Rural Center has long recognized the need of leadership development for rural communities, and we appreciate Chris’s knowledge and dedication to rural Virginia. We’re very excited to have him on board to build on the important work the Virginia Rural Center has been doing in our communities,” said Kristie Proctor, Virginia Rural Center Executive Director. “He is a well-respected advocate for agriculture, rural communities, and leadership development and is known for his ability to bring individuals together and engage communities of all backgrounds.”


“It is important that rural leaders, especially those who are new, to learn about how to get involved and to understand the challenges and needs of rural communities. Also, knowing what skills and resources are available for these communities to remain viable and thriving is important, and we believe that bringing them together is the best way to do that,” Atkins said. “By working with these leaders, as well as other stakeholders and communities that have found success, we can build on the Virginia Rural Center’s previous successes to ensure that we remain a valuable resource in supporting rural communities.”


Atkins has spent his early years and professional life supporting rural communities. As the Vice President of Association Management at Alliance Group, he represented several rural clients and trade organizations. He previously served as Executive Director of several trade organizations and associations, including the Virginia Grain Producers Association, the Virginia Forest Products Association, and the Virginia Propane Gas Association. 


Chris was born and raised in Clarke County, Virginia, where he was active in FFA and developed a passion for leadership development. He served as the Virginia FFA State President and earned a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences with a focus on Community Leadership and Development from Virginia Tech. He is also a graduate of University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. Chris currently serves as the Past Chair of the Virginia FFA Foundation and as a Director for the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association. 

JULY 19, 2021


RICHMOND, VA - The Virginia Rural Center (VRC) is pleased to announce

the addition of Chris Atkins to the VRC team. Chris will undertake the duties as Program Director of the newly created Virginia Rural Leadership Institute. The VRC is the established voice for rural localities throughout the Commonwealth and recognizes the demonstrated lack of mechanisms specifically focused on rural Virginia. VRC has long recognized the need for this opportunity and plans to address this with the creation and implementation of the Virginia Rural Leadership Institute. 

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