LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech University will host a Texas Tribune event focused on the future of rural Texas November 17-18 in Lubbock.

According to a press release from TTU and the Texas Tech Today website, the event will be livestreamed and available on demand at

State representatives, local lawmakers and industry leaders will gather to discuss the biggest wins and toughest challenges facing Texas’ rural communities, Texas Tech said.

Thursday’s (Nov. 17) sessions will take place at the Allen Theatre in the Student Union Building. Friday’s (Nov. 18) sessions will take place at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

Those wishing to attend in person or virtually are asked to RSVP.

According to the press release, The Future of Rural Texas program is as follows: 

  • Thursday, Nov. 17
    • 4 p.m.: Deep in the Heart: A Special Edition of the TribCast
      A live recording of The Texas Tribune’s weekly podcast on the latest news and headlines, and this time it’s all about rural. Featured speakers include:
      • Nic Garcia, regional editor at The Texas Tribune
      • Jayme Lozano, High Plains reporter at The Texas Tribune
      • Pooja Salhotra, East Texas reporter at The Texas Tribune
      • Sarah Self-Walbrick, news director at Texas Tech Public Media
      • Adam Young, editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
    • 6:15 p.m.: Rural Texas and the 88th Legislature
      Next session’s priorities: What’s likely, what’s possible, what’s on the wish list and how the budget surplus can benefit smaller communities across the state. The session will be moderated by The Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. Featured speakers include:
      • State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock
      • State Rep. Eddie Morales Jr., D-Eagle Pass
      • State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa
      • State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria
      • State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg
  • Friday, Nov. 18
    • 9 a.m.: Educational Opportunity for All
      From pre-K to college, how rural schools are meeting the challenges of preparing students for life in the 21st century. The session will be moderated by The Texas Tribune regional editor Nic Garcia and session speakers will include:
      • State Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian
      • H.T. Sanchez, superintendent of Plainview ISD
      • Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College
      • JuliAnn Mazachek, president of Midwestern State University
    • 10 a.m.: Ensuring Rural Health
      A prescription for equitable health care access and outcomes in the state’s most far-flung counties. The session will be moderated by The Texas Tribune’s High Plains reporter Jayme Lozano. Featured speakers include:
      • Lorenzo Serrano, CEO of the Winkler County Hospital District
      • John Hodges, family nurse practitioner, Ralls Family Medicine
      • Lori Rice-Spearman, president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
      • Jennifer Franklin, chief clinical officer of the Yoakum Community Hospital
    • 11 a.m.: Getting Connected
      Broadband access is finally expanding across rural Texas. What this will mean for education, health care, economic development and more. The session is moderated by The Texas Tribune East Texas reporter Pooja Salhotra and will feature:
      • Jennifer Harris, federal program officer for Texas, Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
      • Charlie Cano, CEO of Etex Telephone Cooperative
      • Dustin Fawcett, Ector County judge-elect
    • 12:40 p.m.: City Hall Confidential
      Rural mayors talk about local control, spending and taxes, the old way of life vs. the modern world, and political realities. The panel will be moderated by Sewell Chan, editor in chief at The Texas Tribune and feature:
      • Ginger Nelson, mayor of Amarillo
      • Tray Payne, mayor of Lubbock
      • Mark Hicks, mayor of Lufkin
      • Anthony Williams, mayor of Abilene
    • 1:45 p.m.: Preserving Natural Resources
      Will plentiful water, clean air and thoughtful land use be the future of rural Texas? The panel will be moderated by Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Editor Adam Young. Featured speakers will include: 
      • State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock
      • Carlos Rubenstein, former chair of the Texas Water Development Board
      • Marilu Hastings, executive vice president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
    • 2:30 p.m.: A Sound Economy
      How rural communities are supporting industries, attracting businesses, creating jobs and training the next generation’s workforce. The panel will be moderated by Sarah Self-Walbrick, news director for Texas Tech Public Media. Featured speakers will include:
      • Wendie Cook, board member of the Canadian Economic Development Corp.
      • Judy Canales, executive director of the Eagle Pass Maverick County Economic Development Alliance
      • Nathan Tafoya, executive director of the Mount Pleasant Economic Development Corp.