Our Staff & Advisors

We are privileged to collaborate with an exceptional group of colleagues whose passion and expertise drive our initiatives forward.

Our Team

Staff Member
Bonita Robertson-Hardy

Co-Executive Director

Staff Member
Chris Estes

Co-Executive Director

Staff Member
Tyler Bowders

Senior Program Associate

Staff Member
Devin Deaton

Action Learning Manager

Staff Member
Erin Cahill

Associate Director of Communications

Staff Member
Evan Zislis

Director of Community Engagement, Hurst Community Initiative

Advisory Groups

Rural Equity Research Advisors

The Rural Equity Research Advisors (RERA) is composed of academic researchers focusing on rural development issues — with a particular focus on issues impacting rural communities of color. This group convenes to identify gaps, understand and promote current research, and advise/author upcoming briefs.

The RERA was formed in consultation with researchers Brian Dabson and Marjory Givens, who provide ongoing strategic guidance and support. 

Rural Action Roundtable on Equity

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

RARE is 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, Aspen 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.


The Theory of Change Working Group for Thrive Rural is a broad array of leading practitioners, academics, and experts from the fields of health, community building, and community and economic development.

Their goal is to structure a detailed “theory of change” to the question: What will it take to create dynamic, sustainable rural communities where all people can realize their full potential and live healthy lives?


The National Advisory Committee (NAC) for the Thrive Rural Framework comprises leading national policymakers, as well as local practitioners and experts in health, community building, and community & economic development.

NAC members provide strategic guidance to the Thrive Rural Framework collaboration.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group