NEW ORLEANS – Delta Regional Authority (DRA) today graduates 24 regional leaders from the Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) Executive Academy. The 2021 DLI class marks the 16th year of DLI-trained regional leaders, comprised of government, non-profit, and business professionals from all eight DRA states.
Since 2005, the DLI Executive Academy has enhanced leadership skills, policy knowledge, and networks of community members in the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions. The leadership development program empowers fellows with the tools, experiences, and networks to address local and regional challenges, improve decision-making, understand policy development, and strengthen leadership capacity and mutual understanding of regional, state, and local cultures.
“Congratulations to the 2021 Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy fellows on their graduation,” said DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chairwoman Leslie Durham. “I am proud to celebrate and honor your leadership, commitment, and perseverance this year. My challenge to each DLI graduate now is to return home and use the knowledge, training, and relationships gained from DLI to invest back into their communities.”
The graduates participated in six training sessions over the past year, learning best practices employed throughout the Delta region for economic and community development in order to catalyze innovative solutions implementable in their own community and region. DLI fellows learned from subject matter experts in infrastructure and transportation, small business and entrepreneurship, workforce development, public health, and other fields necessary to facilitate economic growth.
The 2021 DLI Executive Academy graduates are:
Kaia Greene (Birmingham, AL) | Budget Analyst, U.S. Department of Labor
Sarah Mills (Prattville, AL) | Regional Workforce Council Liaison, Alabama Department of Commerce - AIDT
Becca Caldwell (Little Rock, AR) | Division of Rural Services Director, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Kimberly Davis (Little Rock, AR) | Director of Public Engagement, Office of the Governor
Tamika Jenkins (Blytheville, AR) | Vice President of Economic Development, Mississippi County, AR Economic Development
Rachel Langley-Hayes (Crossett, AR) | Field Representative and Constituent Services Representative, U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman
Dr. Kyle Miller (Helena, AR) | Museum Director, Delta Cultural Center
Clint O’Neal (Conway, AR) | Executive Vice President of Global Business, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Angela Rowe (Harrisburg, IL) | Owner and Designer, Decorating Den Interiors
Hellena Shorty (Carbondale, IL) | Senate Aide, Office of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin
Ronnie White (Red Bud, IL) | Commissioner, Randolph County Board of Commissioners
Brooke Simmons (Hickman, IL) | Community Relations Director, Obion County Joint Economic Development Corporation
Friday Ellis (Monroe, LA) | Mayor, City of Monroe
Raushanah Hunter (Baton Rouge, LA) | Development Director, City Year Baton Rouge
Allie Lee (Baton Rouge, LA) | Digital Strategist, Office of the Louisiana Lt. Governor
Christina Berry (Brandon, MS) | Founder, Urban District Planners
Will Coppage (Greenville, MS) | Executive Director, Washington County Economic Alliance
Sally Burbridge (Salem, MO) | Economic Development Director, City of Salem
Jonathan Douglass (Sikeston, MO) | City Manager, City of Sikeston
Darci Malam (Bucyrus, MO) | Project Management Specialist, Delta Regional Authority
Rebeca Pacheco (Poplar Bluff, MO) | Executive Director, Butler County Community Resource Council
Tammy Hall (Dyersburg, TN) | Vice President, Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce
Lauren Kirk (Jackson, TN) | Director of Performance Management, City of Jackson
Catina Stark (Jackson, TN) | Supervisor, Wright Medical
After graduation, DLI fellows become members of the Delta Leadership Network, which is comprised of more than 600 community leaders who understand the importance of regional collaboration, resource sharing, and innovative thinking.
DLI is a program of DRA in partnership with three institutions of higher education: Arkansas State University, the University of Louisiana Monroe, and the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business Executive Education.
About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage the economic development of the lower Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt. DRA invests in projects supporting transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training, and business development. DRA’s mission is to help create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of those who reside in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state region.