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Rappahannock Community College (RCC) is pleased to announce Dr. Kendra Wood, RCC Dean of Strategic Enrollment Management, is one of the 28 graduates of the Virginia Rural Center’s Virginia Rural Leadership Institute (VRLI). VRLI is a leadership program that develops and supports highly skilled, highly motivated leaders who are committed to revitalizing their communities across rural Virginia. 

“The 2023 cohort of VRLI has leaders from the non-profit, public, and private sectors. These leaders span 24 different counties and cities and have 25 different Community Impact Projects across the Commonwealth,” said Bryan David, Chair of the Council for Rural Virginia. “With the diverse backgrounds, ages, employers, and skill sets that each Cohort member has, we will be able to successfully address a multitude of issues that rural communities face.” 

Throughout the 2023 program, VRLI cohort members attended in-person sessions that featured presentations from Virginia’s top experts on economic and community development, healthcare and education, and agriculture. In-person sessions were held in five different rural regions across the Commonwealth, including Southside Virginia, the Middle Peninsula, the Northern Neck, the Shenandoah Valley, and Southwest Virginia. 

During the stop in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, Dr. Wood said highlights included a presentation from RCC President Dr. Shannon Kennedy and Liz Martin, CEO of VCU Tappahannock, about rural health partnerships and opportunities. “Our cohort toured Warsaw and learned about the revitalization efforts and plans; experienced the Heritage Water Tour on the Rappahannock River; and attended an agritourism presentation conducted by Tyler Wind at Wind Vineyards outside of Tappahannock.” 

An important component of VRLI is for cohort members to immerse themselves in unique rural localities to hear from leaders about how they have addressed challenges and worked to transform their communities. “I am proud that in its second year, the Virginia Rural Leadership Institute is able to deliver a return on investment for participants and their communities,” said Senator Frank Ruff, representing Virginia’s 15th District, founding member of the Center for Rural Virginia (CFRV), and current Chairman of CFRV. “The program helps leaders from rural Virginia learn actionable leadership skills both from subject-matter experts and each other while visiting parts of Virginia that often go unseen.” 

In addition to the in-person sessions, each member is required to complete a Community Impact Project. Projects are developed and implemented with the guidance of VRLI mentors, Virginia Rural Center staff, and the VRLI Advisory Committee. “The focus of my Community Impact Project will be Building a Northern Neck/Middle Peninsula College and Career Network,” said Wood. “The project will engage local industry and employers to provide career and mentorship programs and set the stage for RCC to launch a Career Services department. Workforce training and development is a key component to revitalization and sustainability within the College and community.”

For a complete list of 2023 graduates visit

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