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1978     Andy Kurtz, Executive Secretary of Arizona Farm Bureau, meets with the University of Arizona College of Agriculture to explore starting a rural leadership program in Arizona.   A design committee is formed by the U of A College of Agriculture and the concept of Project CENTRL was born. 

1981     The Center for Rural Leadership is incorporated and launches a fund-raising campaign to start the program with the acronym Project CENTRL. The campaign's success and a strong partnership  with University of Arizona (UA) allows Project CENTRL to also secure a $200,000 start-up Grant from the Kellogg Foundation. Eldon Moore is selected as first Director.

The historic logo from 1981 - 2021

1983     On October 6, 1983, the first session for Class I was held at the Ramada Inn in Phoenix. Andy Kurtz and Eldon Moore conducted the opening session, titled “Why CENTRL- Challenges for Rural Leadership in Arizona.”  Jack Currie is serving as CENTRL Board President. 

1985     Class III is just getting underway and Class II is mid-way through the two-year program. Class I members tour Pennsylvania and are hosted by Congressman Bob Stump in Washington D. C. Twenty-eight members of Class I proudly represent the first CENTRL graduating class.

1986     The CENTRL Alumni Association (CAA) is formed and CENTRL Board of Directors calls upon Senator John Hays and others to secure a $100,000 annual Legislative appropriation in partnership with the UA Cooperative Extension to support leadership program.

1991     Eldon Moore retires as Director on June 30, 1991 and Dr. Jim Chamie becomes CENTRL Director. The total number of Alumni grows to 226. Among many donors, the United Dairymen Association contributes $10,000 to Project CENTRL. Arden Palmer is serving as CENTRL Board President. 

1996     CENTRL embarks on a major “enhancement” plan with a decision to start a new class on alternating years, effective with Class XIII.   John Hays is serving as CENTRL Board President and Gerry Bohmfalk, Class VII is the CAA President.

1997     CAA host the first CENTRL Alumni Conference in Tucson in the summer of 1997. Cheryl Goar, Class IX is CAA President and Everett Rhodes, Class III replaces Jim Chamie as Director, and the CENTRL office is moved from Tucson to Casa Grande.

1998     CENTRL receives a $1,000,000 gift from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation. These funds are endowment with the commitment to only utilize the interest to fund the mission while allowing the principal to grow and ensure the program is available to future generations.  

2000     The traditional ten-day national seminar at the end of the two-year program is changed with Class XV. Class members will have a five-day seminar in another state at the end of the first year and a five-day national seminar in Washington D. C. at the end of the second year. Gerry Bohmfalk, VII becomes CENTRL Board President.  

2003     Alumni President Carrie Hamstra, Class XII and CAA Board members host the 14th Annual International Leadership Alumni Conference welcoming alumni from several other states and countries to Arizona.   CENTRL celebrates a 20th Anniversary and Cheryl Goar, Sheldon Jones, Mark Schnepf, and Kevin Rogers receive the CAA Outstanding Leadership Awards.  

2005     Project CENTRL goes International with the state exchange taken at the end of the first year replaced with an extensive five-day study tour in Sonora Mexico. Cheryl Goar, Class IX becomes Board President. 

2007     The Alumni Association is restructured to be an integral part of CENTRL.  An Alumni Council is formed to provide leadership to over 500 members, and CENTRL celebrates a 25th Anniversary.

2013     Everett Rhodes retires and is replaced by Monica Pastor as Executive Director. A new one-year curriculum begins with Class XXII to help keep up with pressing needs for rural leaders. 

2017 Monica Pastor retires and Scott Koenig, Class XXI becomes the 5th  Executive Director. There are now over 600 alumni. 

2018  Dr. George Seperich becomes Chair of the Board with Glenna McCollum-Cloud, Class IX becoming Vice Chair; starting a leadership succession plan each with three-year terms.  A three-year strategic plan is put into action. 

2021  Classes 28 & 29 graduate and we welcome historic Class 30! The organization reclaims it original name: Arizona Center for Rural Leadership and rebrands its logo, programs and creates new brands. Project CENTRL remains the 12-month leadership development program, Alumni in Action and Make a Difference highlight the current work of the program allowing room for growth of additional programs to meet the needs of rural Arizona. 

2023 In its 40th Year, Class 31 graduates top the 700 total alumni mark while Glenna McCollum-Cloud, Class IX becomes Chair. 

There are many Board Members, Alumni, and Friends who have contributed to the success of Project CENTRL.  

To them, a sincere THANK YOU!

Arizona Center for Rural Leadership

4341 E Broadway Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85040
Arizona Center for Rural Leadership is a Public Private Partnership with The University of Arizona.

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