Remote video URL
Reenvisioning Rural America: Supporting Asset-Based Rural Investment and Capacity Building

There is no single rural America; its communities have diverse industries, cultures, and people. But definitions of these areas tend to lump them together under the catchall of “not urban” and focus on what these communities are perceived as lacking. These practices result in rural communities being categorized by their challenges, not their strengths, obscuring their varied realities. Rural communities are much more than what they need. Many are rich in resources, diversity, and potential. By better understanding these strengths, policymakers from the local to the federal level, practitioners, and investors can build on communities’ potential to better target investment and support.

Please join the Urban Institute for a discussion about how we can better understand the strengths of rural communities and how to leverage their assets. We will begin with remarks by Xochitl Torres Small, under secretary for rural development in the US Department of Agriculture, followed by a demonstration of Urban’s new typology and dashboard with national data on rural census tracts and peer groups that support asset-based rural investments and capacity building. After the demonstration, a panel of rural stakeholders will discuss the opportunities and challenges of identifying rural assets and using an asset-based investment framework.


  • Heidi Khokhar, Executive Director, Rural Development Initiatives
  • Joy Moten-Thomas, Assistant Administrator for Community Development and Outreach, Fort Valley State University College of Agricultural, Family Sciences, and Technology
  • Corianne Payton Scally, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute 
  • Xochitl Torres Small, Under Secretary for Rural Development, US Department of Agriculture 
  • Janet Topolsky, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • Andrew Dumont, Senior Community Development Analyst, Federal Reserve Board of Governors (moderator)

Support for this event is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event.


Date & Time Tuesday, December 14, 2021

  • Senior Fellow, Research
    Practice Area Lead: Housing as a Platform