The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) celebrated 49 new graduates of the Delta Leadership Institute (DLI), including GMC Board Member Cedric Campbell, who will collaborate with DRA’s leadership team to continue helping create jobs, build communities and improve lives across the Mississippi River Delta region and the Black Belt of Alabama. A graduation ceremony was held in Lake Barkley, Kentucky on Aug. 4.
The 49 graduates, including eight from Alabama, have completed the year-long DLI Executive Academy, a training program that brings together business and community leaders from each of the eight states served by DRA to gain the tools, experiences, and networks that will help them enhance economic opportunities in their communities as well as boost our regional economy.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, selected in 2017 to serve as the DRA States’ Co-chairwoman, praised the local leadership focus in the class.
“I am so proud of these outstanding leaders for taking the time to complete the Delta Leadership Institute,” Ivey said. “Success begins at the local level and it is great to see such dedicated public servants learning new skills, which they will use to help their communities grow. Alabama is only strong because of our strong leadership at the local level. I pledge to do all that I can to support these local leaders in any way I can.”
The graduates have participated in seven workshops over the past year to help them understand the economic development needs of the Delta region, and build a collaborative leadership experience that emphasizes a regional approach to growing local economies and creating opportunities for the 252 million residents of the Delta region. DLI fellows learn from local and regional experts in infrastructure and transportation, small business and entrepreneurship, workforce training, and other economic development fields, experiencing what is working to boost economies in the Delta region.
The eight Alabama graduates represent a diverse group of public and private sector leaders from across industries: Carrie Banks, Alabama League of Municipalities Communications Director; Marcus Campbell, Sumter County Commission Chairman; Cedric Campbell, GMC Project Manager; Winfield Ezell Jr., Obsidian Creative Studios CEO; Darrio Melton, City of Selma Mayor; Maureen Neighbors, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Energy Division Director; Susan Smith, City of Atmore Councilwoman; and Tiffany Smith, United Way of West Alabama Americorps VISTA/Community Needs and Partnership Development.
“A native of Alabama’s Black Belt, Governor Ivey is a strong advocate for addressing issues in the rural areas of our state,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “I join the Governor in congratulating the Alabama graduates, and I thank them for working toward strengthening opportunities in Alabama’s Black Belt. These graduates will join a strong network of alumni, and ADECA look forward to continuing to work with them to address our state’s most pressing issues.”
Since 2005 DLI’s Executive Academy has enhanced the leadership skills, policy knowledge, and networks of community members in the Delta region. After graduation, DLI graduates become members of the Delta Leadership Network, which now includes nearly 500 members who understand the importance of regional collaboration, resource sharing, and innovative thinking.
DLI is a program of the Delta Regional Authority in partnership with three institutions of higher education from within the DRA footprint: The University of Alabama, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro and The University of Louisiana Monroe.
About The Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged federal resources into nearly $3.5 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workforce improvement, and infrastructure development projects. DRA investments have helped to create and retain more than 37,000 jobs, train more than 7,300 workers for 21st Century jobs, and deliver water and sewer improvements to more than 66,000 residents. Learn more at dra.gov.