Rural Party Building Program

About Our Democratic Rural Party Building Program

For decades Democrats and progressives nationally have disinvested from rural areas. To defeat right-wing radicalization and remain relevant nationally, Democrats and allies have to improve their brand in rural America. The Rural Party Building program aims to remediate the Democratic brand through lifting up vibrant, local rural Democratic committees and allied groups. 

Our 2021 pilot program supports 20 Democratic organizing teams in 75 rural counties encompassing 2.1 million eligible voters across battleground and red-to-purple states that capture the diversity of rural America: WI, KS, VA, and MT. Our pilot provides support for groups to conduct service work (food banks, etc) and visibility (earned/paid comms, digital) around that work via training and open-ended grant funding.

In 2022, we endeavor to work in 300 rural counties to support party and progressive allied activists improving the lives of 10,000,000 rural voters. 

A barn in the middle of a field with a US flag on the side.

Rural Party Building Pilot Teams

Program Design Committee Members

Organizational affiliations provided for identification purposes only. 

  • Co-Chair, Secky Fascione, Democracy Alliance
  • Interim Program Director, Lauren Gepford, former ED, MO Democratic Party
  • Project Manager, Fleming Beaver
  • Advisor, George Goehl, People’s Action

Party Leadership

  • Ken Martin – President, Association of State Democratic Committees; Chair, MN Democratic Party
  • Brad Martin – President, Association of State Democratic Executive Directors; ED, OR Democratic Party
  • Lavora Barnes – Chair, MI Democratic Party
  • Ben Wikler – Chair, WI Democratic Party
  • Tina Podlodowski – Chair, WA Democratic Party
  • Vicki Hiatt – Chair, KS Democratic Party
  • Tom Sullivan – former County Party Chair, Author
  • Mary Gonzalez – Rural TX State Rep, Chair of TX Mexican American Caucus
  • Kelly Dietrich & Jocelyn Hunt – National Democratic Training Committee
  • Erik Richardson – Chair, MO Democratic Party Rural Caucus
  • Nate Timm – Chair, WI Democratic Party Rural Caucus
  • Ben Meers – ED, KS Democratic Party
  • Tara Logan – Secretary, MO Democratic Party Rural Caucus; former Rural Director, MO Democratic Party
  • Bill Crawford – Multi-County Coordinator, WI Rural Counties
  • Ethan Smith – Blue Bench Project Coordinator, MT Democratic Party
  • Simon Hargus – Vice Chair, Wood County Democratic Committee (WV)
  • Rachel Byrne – Co-Chair, Monongalia County Democratic Party (WV)
  • Meredith Dean – Appalchian Women of Action (VA)

Progressive & Rural Leadership

  • Sarah Jaynes – Rural Democracy Initiative
  • Wanda Mosely – Field Director, Black Voters Matter
  • Isaac Wright – Rural Voter Institute
  • Stephen Smith & Katey Laurer – West Virginia Can’t Wait
  • Heather Booth & Mike Lux – Democracy Partners
  • Delinda Bryant – Albany, GA Voters Coalition

Experimental and Program Design

  • Pete Backof – Camden Strategy
  • Aaron Strauss – OpenLabs, former Analyst Institute Executive Director