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Carrie Pipinich joins the Foundation to build rural economic development strategies

Senior Program Office for Community Economic Development Carrie Pipinich

Carrie Pipinich joins the Foundation’s Community Economic Development team as its new senior program officer.

Based in The Dalles, Carrie comes to us from the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, where she worked for 12 years, most recently as deputy director of economic development. We sat with her to learn more about her background and experiences.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Seattle. I wanted to try something else for college and wound up at Barnard College in New York City for undergrad. It was a great experience, but very much not home, so after graduation I happily came back to the Pacific Northwest. I wound up at Portland State University, where I got a master’s degree in urban and regional planning in 2011. For my PSU capstone project, a team of us did a downtown plan for the small town of Westin, just east of Pendleton, and that’s where I fell in love with working in rural communities. I went on to serve through the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps program at University of Oregon, and that’s what brought me in touch with Mid-Columbia Economic Development District. They asked me to stay on after my 11-month service term, and I took the opportunity to work with the region’s communities for the next 12 years.

What brought you to the Foundation?

I saw a huge opportunity to be a part of the Foundation’s growth in the systems-level work and advocacy for rural Oregon. The impact of this work on communities is really what drew me to this position. It’s about thinking of the bigger picture — taking that step from working on the ground to thinking about improving the systems that impact them. I’m also looking forward to exploring how we can make resources more accessible to rural communities and help to highlight strategies that are working to build vibrant, stronger economies.

What are you looking forward to most in your new position?

One of the things that made me choose the RARE placement that I did was the fact that it was a challenge that would make me learn and grow. With each opportunity to grow my role at MCEDD, I enjoyed the new challenges and the increased impact I was able to have. And I am excited about that in this new role, too.

What do you see ahead for rural community economic development?

I think rural communities are looking at a time of opportunity. Legacy industries in natural resources and agriculture are still a strong economic foundation in many rural areas, but increased broadband access means our rural communities can think differently about strategies to help them thrive. It creates openings for leaders to consider ways to diversify their business bases and make new opportunity paths available to their residents. That’s a real game changer.

You have lived and worked in The Dalles for almost 13 years now. What do you like about living in a rural community?

I really value the sense of community and how people show up – not just for the good stuff, but for the challenging times, too. That is really powerful; there’s accountability and relationship there. The chance to work with and be invited into other communities has been really special for me. It’s an honor to support community members as they navigate towards their vision for their place.


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