About Us

Since 1985, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) has been committed to equitable rural prosperity. We work towards a future where communities and Native nations across the rural United States are healthy places where each and every person belongs, lives with dignity, and thrives. 

Our Expertise

CSG serves as a connecting hub for equitable rural community and economic development. We design and facilitate action-inducing peer learning among rural practitioners, national and regional organizations, and policymakers. We build networks, foster collaboration, and advance best practices from the field. 

CSG advances an asset-based and systems-building approach to community and economic development. The foundational part of this work is the Thrive Rural Framework. This resource provides both a shared vision and a line of sight into our current understanding of the local and systems conditions necessary to realize that vision. It is designed to help community leaders, practitioners, policymakers, equity advocates, and other rural equity champions to take stock, target action, and gauge progress toward this vision of the future. It identifies the actions and conditions required at local- and system-levels to get there.

Our Team

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Bonita Robertson-Hardy

Co-Executive Director

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Chris Estes

Co-Executive Director

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Tyler Bowders
Tyler Bowders

Program Associate

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Clifford Devin Deaton
Devin Deaton

Action Learning Manager

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Erin Cahill
Erin Cahill

Associate Director of Communications

Advisory Groups

Rural Equity Research Advisors

The Rural Equity Research Advisors (RERA) is composed of five researchers from HBCU and Native colleges focusing on rural development issues. CSG convenes this group to identify gaps, understand and promote current research, and advise/author upcoming briefs.


Rural Action Roundtable on Equity

The Rural Action Roundtable on Equity (RARE) serves as CSG’s equity partner, providing strategic direction, setting priorities, building relationships, and ensuring critical analysis to guide CSG’s work.

RARE to composed of leading rural practitioners and thought leaders. Their leadership has been instrumental in guiding and grounding the ongoing development and implementation of the Thrive Rural Framework.

Together, CSG and RARE focus on building and connecting the field of equitable rural development and content using a race, place, and class equity lens to ground and proof our analysis, content, and strategies.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group