Building Civic Courage and Living It Too

By Leslie Wright

Going Big In a Small Town

Whitney Kimball Coe is coordinator of the National Rural Assembly, a rural movement made up of activities and partnerships geared toward building better policy and more opportunity across the country. Her work is focused on building civic courage. She has chosen to live in the Tennessee town where she grew up.

She is among the guests featured on an upcoming free Heart & Soul Talks webinar, where you can hear more of her story and others who made the choice to go big in small towns.

Heart & Soul Talks: Going Big in Small Places: Millennials Make Their Mark in America’s Towns,
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1-2 p.m. Eastern. Free!

Orton Family Foundation:
Where did you grow up?

Whitney Kimball Coe: I am a daughter of Athens, Tennessee, which is a town of about 14,000 in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.

Orton: When did you leave and when did you return to your hometown?

I left for undergrad at Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2002 and attended Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, for my masters. I made my way back to Athens in 2013.

Orton: Why did you decide to return?

WC: I decided I wanted to return to Athens in the midst of my first year at college back in 2002, and every step I made afterward was in service to returning home. I value my small town existence. Our family precept is, “These are precious times.” I see my parents and my brother’s family everyday. I act in community theater, serve on multiple boards, participate in school programs and teach fitness classes at the YMCA. It is a rich life, full of intricate, precious connection and relationship.

For the fuller story, see:

Orton: What can your town do to draw more Millennials like you?

WC: I’m an ambassador for “homecoming.” I think my contemporaries are looking for purpose and meaning, and there is room in rural America for you to have that/create that if you choose it.

Register now for the upcoming Heart & Soul Talk: Going Big in Small Places: Millennials Make Their Mark in America’s Towns, 
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1-2 p.m. Eastern. Free!

(Can’t make that date? Sign up and we’ll send you the call recording. Free!)

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presented in partnership with: Daily Yonder logo