The Center for Rural Policy and Development is a non-partisan, not-for-profit policy research organization dedicated to benefiting Minnesota by providing its policy makers with unbiased information and evaluation of issues from a rural perspective.
The Center’s board members come from all over the state, representing a variety of interests. Thirteen are appointed by the Governor and two are appointed by the House and Senate leadership; all members represent different aspects of rural Minnesota. Remaining members consist of five at-large positions chosen by the board members themselves.
The board works closely with staff to help guide the direction of the Center, to set research priorities, and to help make the Center a presence in the rural policy community.
The Center for Rural Policy and Development is dedicated to making Minnesota a better place. We will not tolerate injustice. We are committed to the equitable treatment and inclusion of all people and to building on the strengths of our differences. We will not reach our full potential as a society until we live up to the ideal that all people are created equal.
The board of directors and staff of the Center for Rural Policy and Development support and foster a positive and inclusive society by 1) upholding the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, 2) speaking against injustice, and 3) rejecting all forms of discrimination. Our values will inform our work.
The Center for Rural Policy and Development is an equal opportunity employer.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are only words unless everyone can feel supported, welcomed, and treated with dignity and respect. Therefore, the Center for Rural Policy and Development does not discriminate in recruitment, retention, or promotion.
President & CEO
After 25-years of living in urban areas, Julie decided it was time to return to her roots in rural Minnesota. Julie became the President & CEO in 2018 after working in Washington, DC as the executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. She has been involved in non-profit management and supporting the rural lifestyle her entire career through her work with the National FFA Alumni Association and the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC). She is a proud graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she received her bachelor’s degree in applied economics and her Master’s of Education in agricultural education.
At the Center, Julie is the chief relationship builder, manages a board of 19-members, oversees the overall management of the center, and is the pied piper of living in rural Minnesota.
Outside of work she enjoys volunteering for 4-H & FFA activities, discovering her family history through genealogy, traveling the world and discovering craft breweries and wineries across Minnesota.
Marnie Werner is Vice President of Research & Operations at the Center. Marnie joined the Center in 2000 after receiving her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Before the Center, Marnie received a bachelor’s in journalism at the U of MN, then spent the next eight years reporting for a group of east central Minnesota newspapers, covering everything from the state legislature to turtle races.
At the Center, Marnie has developed a special interest in the child care shortage, addiction issues, broadband, water quality, and correcting other people’s typos. In her spare time she likes to write, spend time with friends and be outside as much as possible in the beautiful southern Minnesota landscape.
After receiving his Master’s of Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Kelly was hired as the Research Associate at the Center for Rural Policy and Development and moved to the best city in Minnesota, New London. Kelly’s work at the Center for Rural Policy and Development is focused on data analysis, busting myths related to the rural narrative, and attempting to become knowledgeable in whatever rural issues are considered important at the time.
During his off time, you will likely find Kelly floating in his kayak, bicycling across rural Minnesota, gardening, spending time with his wife and cat, and generally shying away from places where there are large amounts of people.
After spending a year interning at the Center for Rural Policy and Development while completing her Master of Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Whitney joined CRPD as a full-time researcher in May 2021. With experience in education, qualitative research, and legislative advocacy, Whitney hopes to use her role at the center to uplift rural voices, negate urban assumptions about Minnesota’s rural communities, and identify key trends worthy of further discussion.
Although currently based in St. Paul, Whitney hopes to soon return to the St. Croix River Valley on the Minnesota-Wisconsin boarder, where she grew up. Outside of work you can find Whitney painting, writing short stories, spending time on the lake, and training for distance running.