Rural Conversations

April 15, 2024

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Rural Conversations: Convening Northern New England Around Rural Access
May 22, 2024, 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM (EST)

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Schedule of events with guest speakers.

Please join us for Rural Conversations: Convening Northern New England Around Rural Access on May 22nd! We are excited to offer a hybrid experience and hope you can join the event. There is no cost to attendees! This convening will bring together both k12 and higher ed professionals together to learn about and discuss rural issues in the context of Northern New England and that effect many rural areas across the country. From first year programs for rural students, to changing demographics, to the new rural economy, we hope the day will engage this community and spark a continued conversation around these topics!

Guest Speaker Biographies

Martin Van Der Werf

Director of Editorial and Education Policy

Georgetown University

Martin Van Der Werf has extensive experience researching and writing about higher education and the issues facing the industry. His work at the center is focused on such issues as diversity and access to higher education, the return on investment of a college degree, and the workplace value of college degrees.
Marty is a former reporter and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he was responsible for all coverage of the business and financial management of colleges and universities. He was the founding director of Chronicle Research Services, a new-business development arm of the Chronicle.
Before joining CEW in 2015, Marty worked for Huron Consulting Group, the largest consulting company in higher education. Previously, Marty was an award-winning reporter, columnist, and editor at two of the largest daily newspapers in the US—The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Arizona Republic, in Phoenix. Marty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Boston University, and was awarded a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Georgetown University in 2021.

Julia Cunningham

Director, Rural Engagement, Office of Communications and Outreach

US Department of Education

Most recently, Julia was the Deputy Director for State Engagement for The Hunt Institute. In this role, she primarily focused on overseeing relationship building, strategy, and program development in support of The Institute’s expansion into new states through the state legislators retreat model. Prior to joining The Hunt Institute, Julia was a fifth – eighth grade Writing teacher at American Horse School in the Oglala Lakota Nation in southwestern South Dakota. After teaching, she earned her Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2018, where she co-founded the Harvard Ed School Rural Educators Alliance. Julia earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Fordham University in 2013.

Marjorie Betley

Deputy Director of Admissions

University of Chicago

Marjorie Betley is the Executive Director of the STARS College Network and Deputy Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago. Originally from north Georgia, Marjorie attended undergraduate and graduate school at UChicago. After working as an archaeologist in Turkey for a few years, she returned to UChicago in 2013 as an admissions counselor. She has led UChicago’s campus-wide rural initiatives since 2018 and helped launch the STARS College Network in 2023.