NEWS: Delta Leadership Institute graduates 48 from 2014-15 Executive Academy, 4 from Mississippi

July 27, 2015

MISSISSIPPI – Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill announced that 48 graduates have successfully completed the year-long Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy, a training program that brings together business and community leaders from each of the eight states of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions for a collaborative leadership development experience, emphasizing regional approaches to growing local economies and creating opportunities for the people of the Delta region.

“The Delta Leadership Institute is working aggressively to train and connect our region’s leadership,” Chairman Masingill said.

Four DLI fellows represented the State of Mississippi this year:

  • Tim Lampkin of Clarksdale
  • Christie Sledge of Stoneville
  • Cynthia White of Jackson
  • Freddie White-Johnson of Ruleville

“The DLI Executive Academy expands the knowledge base for participants by exposing them to major issue areas important to the economic growth of the Delta region, including small business and entrepreneurship development, education and workforce training, public policy and governance, infrastructure, and public health,” Masingill said. “By doing this, the program creates a corps of regional-thinking, collaborative ‘doers’ ready to address some of our region’s most prevalent challenges.”

Each graduate was nominated by his or her respective governor to participate in the program that included six sessions in Delta communities and Washington, DC. In addition to the program certificate, participants graduate with an industry-recognized certification in Crucial Conversations. Present for the ceremony were former US Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, DRA Federal Co-Chairman, Chris Masingill, and Alternate Federal Co-Chairman, Mike Marshall, and the gubernatorial designees to the DRA Board for each of the agency’s governors.

“I’m proud of each graduate that completed the executive academy this year.  They’ll take back valuable experience, knowledge and leadership skills to their respective communities because of their dedication,” Governor Phil Bryant said. “This program continues to shape the leaders in the Delta region and will pay dividends for area residents.  I thank all the participants and staff involved this year for their hard work.”

The DLI is coordinated 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 at Monroe. Through this partnership, the University of Louisiana at Monroe announced at graduation that it will be welcoming DLI Executive Academy alumni into its recently-established Master of Public Administration program with the following support:

  • Waiver of application fee;
  • Scholarship equal to 10 percent tuition discount;
  • Waiver of GRE requirements for students who graduated from an accredited college or university with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA;
  • Waiver of out-of-state fee; and
  • 6 hours credit once DLI program is completed.

This special partnership will expand the professional development and networking provided for DLI alumni through the Delta Leadership Network and encourage Delta leaders to continue their education and training for addressing local and regional issues.

Applications for the 2015-2016 class of the DLI Executive Academy are now being accepted through August 7. Interested applicants can learn more about the program and may begin an application at

The DRA 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. Through the Rural Communities Advancement Program, the DRA has provided leadership development to more than 400 community leaders over ten years and strengthened regional collaboration with its Delta Leadership Institute.


Media Contact: Spencer Lucker                                          Program Contact: Amanda Richardson
(202) 434-4842,                                        (501) 912-5722,