A Rural Perspective on COVID-19 Responses: Access, Interdependence and Community


  • Margaret F. Sloan James Madison University
  • Laura Trull James Madison University
  • Maureen Malomba James Madison University
  • Emily Akerson James Madison University
  • Kelly Atwood James Madison University
  • Melody Eaton James Madison University




Rural, COVID-19, rural nonprofit, pandemic, nonprofit education, rural leadership, qualitative


Much of the press on the pandemic has been focused on urban environments where the virus was quick to spread and the numbers of cases are high. Beyond the greater risk for COVID-19-related health complications, rural populations are particularly susceptible to disruptions in the economic infrastructure of their communities. This study explores the impacts of COVID-19 on rural communities and the responses of nonprofit and other community infrastructures. Using a strengths-based approach and mixedmethods design, this qualitative research asked rural residents and nonprofit leaders about their needs, challenges, and assets as a result of COVID-19. Themes relative to access, interdependence, and community emerged from a priori categories. The research offers implications for both nonprofit education and rural nonprofit leadership.Subscribe to JNEL

Author Biographies

Margaret F. Sloan, James Madison University

Interim Director and Professor, School of Strategic Leadership StudiesAdvisor, Nonprofit & Community Leadership

Laura Trull, James Madison University

Assistant Professor  Department of Social Work

Maureen Malomba, James Madison University

Doctoral AssistantSchool of Strategic Leadership Studies

Emily Akerson, James Madison University

Associate Director for JMU’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services

Kelly Atwood, James Madison University

Assistant Professor, Graduate PsychologyDirector, Counseling and Psychological ServicesDirector, Interprofessional Services for Learning Assessment 

Melody Eaton, James Madison University

Director and Professor, School of Nursing