Presented during RCRC’s Annual Meeting each September, the RCRC President’s Award was born out of the desire to publicly acknowledge individuals that take the time to go above and beyond their everyday roles to further advance the cause of rural counties.  This year, RCRC President and CEO Greg Norton recognized Ms. Connie Stewart as the recipient of the 2017 RCRC President’s Award. 

Ms. Stewart serves as the Executive Director for the California Center on Rural Policy, located at Humboldt State University.  The mission of the CCRP is to inform policy, build community, and promote the health and well-being of rural people and environments.  In addition to her professional role with CCRP, Ms. Stewart served on the Arcata City Council from 1996 until 2004, including two years as mayor.  In addition, she served on the staff of former Assembly Member Patty Berg.  This diverse experience allows Ms. Stewart to be of great assistance to RCRC by bringing a perspective of rural issues, the State Legislature and local government together into one. 

There are two key public policy areas that Ms. Stewart brings much-needed expertise: rural health care, and the deployment of broadband to rural California.  Ms. Stewart fiercely highlights the deficiencies of the health care delivery system in rural America, and has joined RCRC to ensure that rural California does not get short-changed in funding for a variety of health care initiatives, including opioid addiction and maternal health.  She has also worked to ensure there is an adequate supply of professional providers.

On broadband deployment, Ms. Stewart remains RCRC’s go-to person for on-the-ground counsel to help see the deployment of technologies in rural California.  More importantly, she recognizes that these deployments must be methodical and not come at the expense of local government involvement.        

The RCRC President’s Award recognizes Ms. Stewart’s tireless efforts, collaborative spirit, and outstanding accomplishments that benefit rural California.