Director, Rural Initiatives
David Dangler became interested in economic and social justice issues early in life, thanks to a high school program called Greater Opportunity where he served as a team leader for inner-city kids.
"It was my first time exposure to racial diversity, at a time of great national change. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were in the headlines. Like many, the more I learned about inequality, the more I wanted to work on solutions," he says.
As an adult, Dangler became involved in community development activities. For example, he helped start Vermont's first public radio station and founded what is now NeighborWorks of Western Vermont. Over the next 14 years, he became deeply committed to rural issues and began to work on national efforts to bring attention and resources to these communities. He co-founded RNA Community Builders, a national CDFI that provides loan capital to rural communities.
Today, Dangler heads NeighborWorks America’s Rural Initiative. More than 110 of the approximately 250 network members serve rural communities – delivering essential services and making investments into programs such as homeownership, affordable rental housing, community revitalizaiton and economic development. Military veterans are a special focus, since nearly 40 percent of U.S. armed forces come from rural communities (compared to national representation of 20 percent).
Dangler is most proud of his work to raise the visibility of rural communities and the NeighborWorks organizations that serve them. He also is active in forging strategic partnerships, bringing together rural leaders for events so they can share knowledge and collaborate.
Dangler is a founding member of the National Alliance for Rural Policy (NARP), a member of the National Rural Assembly steering committee and a member of the National Rural Housing Coalition’s board of directors. In addition, Dangler currently serves on the board of Next Step, a national social enterprise committed to high-quality, factory-built housing.