Sarah Smarsh, Keynote Speaker

Our 11th annual Gathering will be keynoted by Sarah Smarsh, a journalist and author, who writes candidly about class and rural America. 

Smarsh’s 2018 book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a New York Times Bestseller and featured as a most read book. The book has garnered serious praise:

“Smarsh’s book, a soul-baring meditation on poverty and class in America, tells the stories of her family’s wounded women, their farming men and her own wrenching choice to snap the three-generation cycle of teenage motherhood into which she was born.” New York Post Review


Powerlessness is inflicted, ironically, on the powerful, for these are women of untold, untapped strength. Smarsh offers not just a revision of familiar manly tales of struggle in the sticks, but indeed a new brand of feminism, one that invokes the history of early American activism” LA Times Book Review


Smarsh’s podcast Homecomers explores the movement of folks returning home to more rural places to make a difference. One of her episodes, “On Getting Regional Stories Right and the Universality of Addiction”, features the documentary filmmaker, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, who is based in Charleston, WV.


Before writing a book or starting a podcast, Smarsh was already a renowned journalist especially for her commentary on “working class” and “rural America” following the 2016 election. Her work has been featured in the NY Times and the Guardian, among others. 


As keynote, Smarsh is set to speak on equity and rural community development. She will then participate in our deep dive sessions. Don’t miss out!