Mara Casey Tieken is an associate professor of education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Her research focuses on racial and educational equity in rural schools and communities and has been published in Review of Educational Research, American Educational Research Journal, Harvard Educational Review, and other journals. Her book Why rural schools matter (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), an ethnographic study of two rural Arkansas communities, examines how rural schools define and sustain their surrounding communities. She is currently working on two multi-year projects; the first, supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, explores the college aspirations, transitions, and persistence of rural, first-generation students, and the second, supported by a grant from the Reed Foundation, examines the impacts of school closures on rural Black communities in the Arkansas Delta. Mara also studies community organizing for education reform and works with local organizations to support organizing efforts in rural communities. Mara is the 2016 recipient of the Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty. Before receiving her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mara taught elementary school in rural Tennessee.