When students take part this summer in Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI), they will be greeted by Lauren Hayes, The Center for Rural Development’s new youth programs coordinator.
Hayes will be responsible for coordinating all three of The Center’s youth leadership programs and helping middle and high school students across Southern and Eastern Kentucky grow their skills as the region’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.
“We are excited to welcome Lauren as our new youth programs coordinator,” Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, said. “She will be a tremendous asset to our youth leadership programs and the guiding force behind seeing that our region’s young people receive hands-on training and leadership skills they need to reach their full potential.”
Hayes replaces Jessica Melton, who was recently named director of homeland security training programs at The Center.
Through Rogers Scholars—The Center’s flagship youth program—Rogers Explorers, and ELI, The Center provides leadership and college scholarship opportunities for youth across its 42-county primary service area.
“One of our goals at The Center is to impact the youth in our region,” Hayes said. “Education provides the foundation that teaches our youth how to become successful leaders while fostering a heart for their community.”
Hayes graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor of arts in international studies and French. Before moving to Kentucky in 2007, she worked for the Tennessee Business Roundtable, a non-partisan business organization dedicated to advancing the business climate in Tennessee.
Her most recent position was with the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency, Inc., based in Jamestown, where she served as community liaison for the H.O.M.E. (Happiness and Opportunity through Marriage and Education) federal initiative.
“It is an honor to work with The Center for Rural Development and the young people who will be joining our youth leadership programs this summer,” Hayes said. “We want our youth to realize their potential and provide them with opportunities to pursue their dreams in hopes they will return to the region.”
Hayes and her husband, Jeffery, make their home in Russell County.