About Us

Almost 60 million Americans live in a community with under 2500 residents. Another 28 million Americans live in a community with a population between 2500-50,000. Even though population density in these communities can range from less than 10 people to 1,000’s of people per square mile, these small communities are bound together by similarities. Indeed, while choosing to live “off the beaten path” has many rewards, small town and rural residents face ever greater challenges each day.

Those of us who live in rural and small town America have all watched policymakers at the local, state, and national level spend precious political capital on culture wars, inflaming our communities and paralyzing our governments. The opioid crisis raged for years—no solutions. Rural hospitals closed—no solutions. Climate change has decimated farmers, fishermen, and effectively drowned small towns across the Midwest—no solutions. It’s time for solutions.

We live in northwest Montana, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and hard working people. We know that with proper attention, rural and small towns across America can look forward to a vibrant future, unlocked by distance-neutral technologies. To do this will require critical analysis, ideas, and conversation. That’s where American Rural seeks to inform, facilitate and build a better path forward.

American Rural, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3)

This is altenative text

Diane Smith founded American Rural in 2014. She is an entrepreneur, attorney, author, and rural advocate with extensive background in start-up companies and new industries. 

After a career in Washington, D.C. as a senior executive in the telecom industry, Diane moved with her family to northwest Montana. It was in Montana that she became an entrepreneur, as Co-Founder and CEO of a ground-breaking technology company headquartered in Kalispell, MT. As a CEO in early tech Diane was again blazing new trails on a steep climb. She’s been sharing her stories of entrepreneurship and innovation off the beaten path ever since.

Diane is proud to have played on teams of geniuses throughout her career. She has worked alongside technologists, PR specialists, sales and marketing experts, economists, finance gurus, and government relations pros. As a former CEO/entrepreneur, Fortune 500 executive, investor, deal negotiator, and policy expert Diane often advises businesses and policymakers on matters relating to technology, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Diane serves on numerous for profit and not-for-profit boards. She has written for the Huffington Post, Daily Yonder and numerous tech publications. She is a frequent guest lecturer on entrepreneurship at universities, and has spoken on topics in the U.S. and internationally regarding Women in Technology, Success in Unlikely Places, and What is Rural? Diane is a graduate of George Mason University and George Mason University School of Law and is a member of the state bars of Virginia and Montana. She and her husband David live in Columbia Falls, MT.

Marc Roston directs American Rural’s research efforts. Marc has spent over 25 years in the investment industry, in a range of roles including managing quantitative equity portfolios for a bulge-bracket bank, directing hedge fund investments and asset allocation for a global consulting firm’s partners and retirement plans, and leading the investment committee of a major alternative asset manager. As an independent consultant, he has overseen alternative investment strategies for a major insurance company, advised on the formation and development of a successful multi-family office, and advised numerous institutional investors. He has served on the boards of several public and private companies.

He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, and holds PhD in economics from the University of Chicago. He and his family live in Whitefish, MT.