John Dempsey Parker works to support and cultivate resilient and creative community leaders, change-makers, activists, and entrepreneurs.

John engages leaders, nonprofits, congregations, funders, universities, tribes, and businesses around their ideas, projects, and partnerships.  For almost twenty-five years, he’s nurtured collaborative, culturally appropriate, and responsible leadership to strengthen local, statewide, regional, and national organizing, collaborations, and initiatives.

John’s areas of focus include strengthening leadership, skills, strategies, assets, resources, and collaboratives around community organizing and civic engagement, community-based economic development, restorative justice and cultural healing, as well as cultural heritage preservation and sustainable community tourism.

John also supports others in their vocational development – helping them discern how to share their time, talents, gifts, relationships, and resources with others.

John’s current partners, collaborators, and colleagues include the Institute for Emerging Issues at NCSU, the Duke Endowment’s Rural Church Program Area, the NC Rural Center, the Beloved Community CenterRepairers of the BreachBartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, and Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity.  John splits his time between North Carolina, Louisiana, and other places, usually in the U.S. South.

John’s career includes directing a community development collaborative, community development finance, business and organizational development, teaching cultural and applied anthropology and nonprofit management, ethnographic research, and a variety of consulting work with small businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropic organizations.

John is from Moore County, North Carolina, part of the Sandhills area in the upper Cape Fear and Lumber River basins in the Piedmont region – historic and present homeland to decendants of the Pee Dee, Catawba, Shakori, Tuscarora, among other indigenous peoples.  He received a BA at Wake Forest University in anthropology, international relations, and politics, a MA in applied anthropology from the University of Memphis, a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University, and a M.Div. from Duke Divinity School.

Contact John at

John’s guiding questions:

  • How do we nurture and grow cultures that cultivate and strengthen community?
  • What encourages generosity, hospitality, solidarity, and empowerment?
  • What nurtures wellness, healing, resilience, restorative justice, self-reliance, and self-determination?
  • How can we identify, leverage, and share our individual and collective gifts and assets in ways that are life-giving, nurture creativity, sustain diverse collaborations, and cultivate commitment to place?
  • What and where are the times, spaces, and places to do this work?

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