Governor Robert Bentley
State of Alabama

Upon being elected the 53rd Governor of the State of Alabama, Governor Bentley exhibited his strong interest in the rural areas of the state when he signed Executive Order Number Five establishing the Alabama Rural Development Office and appointed Ron Sparks, former Commissioner of Agriculture, as the Director of this newly-created office. The goal was to improve and advance education, healthcare, and economic development in the rural areas of Alabama. The missions and responsibilities of the Black Belt Commission would also be implemented by the Alabama Rural Development Office.


Ron Sparks
Director, Alabama Rural Development Office

Ron Sparks is the former Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. He was appointed by Governor Bentley in 2010 to head the newly created Office of Rural Development. As Director of Governor Bentley’s Rural Development Office, Ron sparks strives to consolidate and coordinate resources for the improvement and advancement of education, healthcare and economic development in the rural areas of Alabama, continuing to work to improve the quality of life of all Alabamians.


Kaleigh Flatt
Executive Assistant, Alabama Rural Development Office

Kaleigh Flatt serves as Executive Assistant to the Director of the Alabama Rural Development Office. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Relations and Advertising and has over 13 years of experience in the fields of PR and marketing. Kaleigh has held various positions in the non-profit, association and governmental sectors in Alabama and Georgia. She previously served the citizens of Alabama as the Public Information Manager for the Alabama Department of Senior Services​.