PEC director of community engagement recognized for leadership in rural economic development

Receiving NREDA President's Award 'an absolute honor'

PEC Director of Community Engagement Trista Fugate was honored Nov. 1 at the annual National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA) conference with the NREDA President’s Award, which recognized her leadership in rural economic development.

Two people standing behind each other, holding an award.
NREDA President Jim Vermeer, left, presented the association’s President’s Award to PEC Director of Community Engagement Trista Fugate during a ceremony Nov. 1.

“To be given this award is an absolute honor,” said Fugate, who presented the award herself last year when she served as the president of the NREDA.
At PEC, Fugate facilitates community development as the leader of the team that administers the cooperative’s grants and economic development programs, as well as youth programs, chamber of commerce engagement, local government relations, community service and much more.

As a young girl growing up in Gonzales, Fugate looked up to her father and grandfathers, all of whom were business owners — of a swimming pool company, a barber shop and an egg farm, respectively — in her rural community.

“[They] were small business owners contributing their talents and passions to their respective endeavors,” Fugate said. “Entrepreneurship is not unique to rural America, but in my opinion, it is more prevalent — one must create his or her own opportunities.”

Impressed from an early age by the power of rural entrepreneurship to build and empower communities, Fugate is now an active advocate for rural economic development.

“Trista has provided great leadership as an NREDA board member and retires from the board this year after serving in all the officer chairs,” NREDA President Jim Vermeer said in his award presentation Wednesday. He commended Fugate’s organizational skill, commitment and “just do it” attitude.

For Fugate, the seeds of that go-getter attitude were sown long ago in the soil of Central Texas.

“I am grateful for my rural roots and the hardworking men and women that made our community special and contributed to the development of the area,” Fugate said. “And I’m even more grateful to have the opportunity now to work with a variety of organizations and dedicated individuals across our PEC service area to help them achieve their goals. To be just a small part of this effort brings me more satisfaction than I could have ever imagined.”