RuralX takes pride in bringing in local, regional and national speakers with diverse backgrounds and a shared passion for rural success.

Chef Sean Sherman :

Chef Sean Sherman

Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and Mexico for the last thirty years. His main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and evolution of indigenous foods systems throughout North America.  In 2014, he opened The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.  In 2015 he and his partner Dana Thompson helped to design and open the Tatanka Truck, which features pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.  Chef Sean and his vision of modern indigenous foods have been featured in numerous articles and radio shows, along with dinners at the James Beard House in Manhattan and Milan, along with teaching and sharing his knowledge to gatherings and crowds at Yale, the Culinary Institute of America, the United Nations, and many more. The Sioux Chef team of twelve people continues with their mission to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible through the recently founded nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS). Learn more at

Laura Zabel :

Laura Zabel

Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, a nationally recognized leader on artist-led community development, creative placemaking and creative cross-sector collaboration. The economic and community development agency helps artists make a living and a life and offers programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Springboard’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and The Guardian and directly impacts over 25,000 artists each year in their home state of Minnesota. Through national tools and training Springboard’s programs have been replicated in over 80 communities across the U.S. and internationally.

Laura has been honored with numerous awards, including the Gard Foundation Award of Excellence and the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship for her work with Springboard. Zabel is currently a BALLE local economy fellow and a creative placemaking policy fellow at Arizona State University.

Tim Lampkin :

Tim Lampkin

Tim Lampkin is the co-founder and CEO of Higher Purpose Co. a nonprofit social impact agency building wealth in communities of color across Mississippi by supporting the ownership of land, businesses, and homes. The Mississippi Business Journal selected Lampkin as one of the 2019 Top Entrepreneurs in the state. Ashoka and American Express recognized him in 2018 as an emerging innovator addressing the racial wealth gap in the United States. An BALLE and Movement Voices Fellow, he has a decade of community development and entrepreneurship experience. He previously managed the Racial Equity Program for the Mississippi Humanities Council which won the national 2018 Schwartz Prize. Lampkin also worked for Southern Bancorp to implement several community initiatives and assisted rural entrepreneurs at Delta State University. He continues to produce narrative change documentaries highlighting relevant Mississippi topics. Lampkin serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Community Development Advisory Council. He is a proud HBCU graduate of Mississippi Valley State University and is currently finishing a Doctor of Education degree at the University of Arkansas.

Alisha Vincent :

Alisha Vincent

Dr. Alisha Vincent is an associate professor of nonprofit administration and leadership and the director of special academic initiatives at Dakota Wesleyan University. She has led the creation of innovative programming for undergraduate and graduate students including a major and minor in nonprofit administration and a graduate certificate program in nonprofit administration for church leaders. Formally, Vincent served as an assistant professor and executive director of the McGovern Center with a major emphasis on applied learning for community impact. Her expertise is in organizational development, nonprofit administration and service-learning. Her passion is helping organizations reach their potential through strategic and innovative thinking.

Mary-Ann Kirkby :

Mary-Ann Kirkby

Mary-Ann Kirkby grew up at the Fairholme Hutterite Colony in Western Canada. She is the author of two award winning, national bestselling books. Her ground-breaking memoir I Am Hutterite provided readers with their first up close and personal portrait of Hutterite life. Her follow up book, Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen saw Kirkby go back to the kitchens of her childhood to work with the women and see what her life might have been like if her family had not left the colony.  Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen won a Gold Medal for its beautiful and compelling narrative.

Scott D. Meyer :

Scott D. Meyer

Scott Meyer fosters connections on the North Dakota State University campus and in the community that will help develop NDSU's entrepreneurship program and support North Dakota's entrepreneurial ecosystem. In short, he helps get things going. Meyer has experience on both the business and academic side of the entrepreneurship spectrum. He began as a lecturer and researcher at the Arctic University of Norway, then decided to test the waters and started 9 Clouds, a digital marketing company for car dealers. After exiting 9 Clouds, he provided digital marketing strategy for political campaigns across the country in the 2018 mid-terms. Meyer has passionately pursued the best ways to help foster an innovative and entrepreneurial culture wherever he called home. He founded TEDxBrookings, Creativity Week, and 1 Million Cups in Brookings. He has been awarded the South Dakota Spirit of Entrepreneurship, Top 40 Under 40 by Prairie Business Journal, and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in South Dakota.

Tane Danger :

Tane Danger

The Theater of Public Policy

Tane Danger is the co-founder and host of the critically acclaimed, civics-inspired improv comedy company The Theater of Public Policy, which tours the country turning hard, thought-provoking issues and debates into improv comedy. He teaches at the University of Minnesota about how improv skills can make anyone more creative, connected and compassionate. He is a performer and speaker, doing everything from keynote addresses on bringing improv into your workplace, to a web series called “Hey! Where Does this Bus Go?" for the Twin Cities’ Metro Transit agency where he rides buses and chats with riders. You can find him on the Twitter at @TaneDanger or learn more about The Theater of Public Policy at

Our 2019 Sponsors

RuralX would like to thank the many sponsors working to help our rural communities thrive.