Rural Action Announces Search for New CEO


Rural Action Announces Search for New CEO

The Plains, OH—Rural Action’s Board of Directors announced today their search for a new Chief Executive Officer to replace Michelle Decker, who leaves in March to begin her appointment as President and CEO of The Community Foundation, based in Riverside, CA.

Ms. Decker has worked at Rural Action for 17 years, serving as CEO the past 10 years. She has built a strong network of community and nationwide partners and supported the advancement of each program. During her tenure she has tripled Rural Action’s budget, expanding earned revenue from 6% to 24% over six years. She has made important investments in social enterprise development, including the purchase of the Chesterhill Produce Auction, which serves over 150 agricultural producers and 1,000 buyers throughout the community. Additionally, Decker has led Rural Action’s participation in regional partnerships like the Central Appalachian Network, WealthWorks National Hub, and the Appalachian Funders Network.

“After a long career in community development and running organizations, it’s time to make room for a new leader with fresh eyes. I’m excited to explore new horizons in the social change field,” said Ms. Decker. “I owe a great debt to Rural Action’s board, staff, and members, and my mentor and colleague Carol Kuhre, for pointing me in the direction of local community development and supporting my growth through these many years.”

Between Ms. Decker’s times working at Rural Action, she spent 10 years in Baltimore, Maryland, as the Executive Director of the Southeast Community Development Corporation, and later as co-founder of the Maryland Asset Building Community Development Network, a statewide policy and communications group.

“Michelle has been a transformative leader for Rural Action. Her legacy will live on long after she leaves in all the incredible programs that have begun under her leadership. We’ve been thrilled to have her here and know she will achieve great things as president of The Community Foundation,” said Randy Leite, board chair and Dean of the College of Health Science and Professions at Ohio University.

As for Rural Action’s next steps, “We have an incredibly strong leadership team and staff, so we want to take time to hear from our members and partners about what they want to see in our next leader,” said Dean Leite. To share input, individuals can email with the subject heading CEO.

Rural Action is a member-based sustainable community development organization. Their mission is to build a more just economy by developing the region’s assets in socially, financially, and environmentally sustainable ways. Learn more about Rural Action at


On January 31st, 2018, posted in: Latest News by