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David M. Ardrey, Executive Director


Mr. David M. Ardrey is now in his 10th year as the Executive Director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS). On January 1, 2023 he will accept the role of President of the National Rural Education Association (NREA), serving as the 116th President and only the third Illinoisian to hold the position. The National Rural Education Association (NREA) was originally founded as the Department of Rural Education in 1907. It is the oldest established national organization of its kind in the United States.

Before joining AIRSS he served as the Director of School Partnerships and Outreach at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he was a founding member and first Chairman of the Rural Schools Collaborative, and he has committed the last 10 years serving NREA on its executive committee, the Foundation (NREAF) and its policy Coalition (NREAC).

David‘s personal and professional life has been in rural places, growing up in rural southwest Missouri and living and working with his family in downstate rural Illinois. His work has been focused on creating a place for the rural voice to be heard, ensuring the rural voice has a seat at the table and sharing a message that rural resilience should not be confused with equity.

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