Joe A. Sumners, Ph.D., is Director of the Economic & Community Development Institute at Auburn University (since 2000). He is the author of numerous publications on the topic of rural economic and community development, including Beyond the Interstate: The Crisis in Rural Alabama (January 2003) and Crossroads and Connections: Strategies for Rural Alabama (October 2004). He previously taught at the University of Georgia, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Stephen F. Austin State University.
He has over 20 years of outreach experience working with communities and local governments in Alabama, with extensive experience assisting communities with strategic planning and civic engagement initiatives. He served as a technical advisor to the Alabama Task Force on Economically Distressed Counties, Alabama’s Black Belt Action Commission, and Alabama Rural Action Commission. He is a founding Board member of the Alabama Communities of Excellence Program and is on the Board of Directors for the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. He is a native of Harpersville, Alabama. He received his BS (summa cum laude) and MA degrees from Auburn University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Georgia.