Rural communities are facing huge shifts in demographics with an aging population of the dominant culture and an influx of immigrants who come with young families. It is these new populations that will help rural communities survive and thrive through economic development, keeping schools open, participating in community democracy, and taking on leadership. What needs to happen is that everyone attempt to adapt and create an inclusive culture. It is not chaos, but a new culture where all can be valued and productive with shared community values.
Mary Laeger-Hagemeister has spent her career living and working with diverse populations in the United States, from the plains of the Midwest to inner city on the East Coast and the Mountains of Appalachia and can apply her knowledge, skills, and passion to help leaders build inclusive community. Her adult students have included incarcerated individuals, people in poverty, people in a mental health facility, immigrants, GED students and the general population. In addition to developing curricula and teaching topics ranging from parenting to leadership and facilitation, Mary has served as a community coach. For over twenty years she was employed in the extension system at Penn State University and most recently, the University of Minnesota. Mary recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation is titled “Social capital networking and immigration populations in rural Minnesota.” Mary is a consultant with L-H Consulting whose mission statement is “Working to Build Inclusive Communities.” She has a passion for building inclusive, integrated, and thriving rural communities. Mary is also actively engaged as a volunteer in her community through a variety of organizations.
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