NEWS: Delta Regional Authority graduates 7 Arkansas leaders ready to improve their local communities

August 04, 2017

Delta Leadership Institute builds capacity across the region

LAKE BARKLEY, Ky. – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) today celebrates 49 new graduates of the Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) 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.

The 49 graduates, including seven from Arkansas, 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.

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 10 million residents of the Delta region. DLI fellows learn from local, regional and national 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.

“Congratulations to the Arkansans graduating from the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.  “Arkansas is fortunate to have these seven passionate individuals who are invested in improving their communities and committed to tackling the challenges facing the Delta region. I am excited to see the great things these graduates will accomplish as they work to expand opportunity and raise the quality of life in the Arkansas Delta.”

The seven Arkansas graduates represent a diverse group of public and private sector leaders from across industries:

  • Karen Castle, Little Rock | Project Manager, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
  • Tina Cole, Harrison | Community & Economic Development Coordinator, Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District
  • Dr. John Davis, Monticello | Assistant Professor & Director of Governmental Relations, University of Arkansas at Monticello
  • Adam Fogleman, Little Rock | County Attorney, Pulaski County
  • Alexandra Johnston, Little Rock | Rural Services Director, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
  • Dr. Cliff Jones, Sr., West Memphis | Vice President of Instruction, ASU-Mid South
  • Jason Willett, Jonesboro | President, FJW Consulting

"This class of Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy graduates exit the program well-equipped as leaders to transform the communities of the Delta. I am confident that each of these capable leaders will work tirelessly to improve infrastructure, support economic development and raise the quality of life in the Arkansas Delta,” said Amy Fecher, Arkansas designee to the DRA Board of Governors.

A full list of the 2016-17 graduates of the DLI Executive Academy can be found here.

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


Media Contact:
Andrew Moreau