Rob Black name CEO of the new Rural Ontario Institute

Rob Black has been named as the chief executive officer of the new Rural Ontario Institute.

Well-known in the agricultural industry, Black will lead the new not-for-profit organization that officially began operations April 1.

The Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) formed through the amalgamation of The Centre for Rural Leadership (TCRL) and The Ontario Rural Council (TORC), with a mandate to provide stronger support for key issues facing rural Ontario. ROI’s new offices are located at Gencor, just north of Guelph.

“It’s an extremely interesting time to be leading a new provincial rural organization,” said Black. “Rural Ontario needs a strong organization to support and provide leadership development and be an effective voice for the far reaching issues facing rural Ontario. And ROI is well positioned to deliver the resources, training and leadership to strengthen the communities that have always been the heart of rural Ontario.”

Born and raised on a mixed farm in rural Ontario, Black brings 25 years of experience in agricultural organizations to ROI.

His professional positions include executive director of TCRL, general manager of the former Ontario Soybean Grow­ers, executive director of 4-H Ontario, and more than 15 years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in a variety of positions.

The institute will be governed by a 12-member volunteer board led by chairman Jim Whaley, of Linwood, and supported by vice chairman Rob Hannam, Guelph; treasurer Rob Hall, Waterloo; and secretary Julie Cayley, Barrie. ROI

Directors are: Craig Des­jar­dins, Picton; Christine Duke­low, Beaverton;  Dr. Rob Gor­don, Guelph; Janet Horner, Shel­burne; Scott Merrifield, Sud­bury; Stig Puschel, Sud­bury; Tom Prout, Exeter; and Chris White, Rockwood.  

“It’s really an honour for me to serve as ROI’s first board chairman and I am so impressed with the calibre of board members we have been able to attract,” said Jim Whaley, an independent health consultant, specializing in rural health services.

“I am excited about the programs and services that ROI has inherited from its predecessor organizations as well as its potential for launching new initiatives that will strengthen rural Ontario.”  

ROI’s mandate is to provide stronger support for key issues facing rural Ontario.