NEWS: 52 regional leaders named for Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy

October 23, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Delta Regional Authority has kicked off the 2015 – 2016 Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy with an orientation session in Memphis, Tennessee. This year's class of 52 fellows from each of the eight Delta region states make up the eleventh class of the Executive Academy, a year-long leadership development program.

“Our communities and region need strong local leadership to continue to grow and thrive. This is why DRA has made investing in our region’s leaders a priority,” DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said. “I’m very proud of this class and what they have already accomplished in their own communities. DLI will only further prepare them to continue the great work they're doing and enhance it through regional collaboration and a strong network of Delta leaders.”  

Over the course of the Executive Academy program, participants will attend six sessions across the Region and in Washington, DC, to engage in advocacy training, case study discussions, and on-the-ground field experiences of priority issue areas for the region including workforce training and education, small business and entrepreneurship, public health, transportation and infrastructure, and culture and tourism. The fellows represent community leaders in local and state government, economic development, education and healthcare, business and industry, faith-based and non-profit organizations.

Each fellow was nominated by their respective governors to participate in the year-long leadership training program. The 2015-2016 DLI Executive Academy fellows are:

Nyaesia Campbell 

McCalla, AL

Grants Coordinator, U.S. House of Representatives– Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Nivory Gordon, Jr.

Furman, AL

Area Director, USDA Rural Development

Beverly Steed Helton

Montgomery, AL

Assistant to the State Director, USDA Rural Development

Susan Keith

Selma, AL

City Council, City of Selma

Zach Lee

Montgomery, AL     

Director of Local Government Affairs, Office of Governor Robert Bentley

Felecia Lucky

Livingston, AL

President, Black Belt Community Foundation

Commissioner Tyrone Moye

Jackson, AL

Chairman, Clarke County Commission

Mayor Gena Doggett Robbins     

York, AL

Mayor, City of York

Max Snyder

Northport, AL

Economic Development Planner II, West Alabama Regional Commission

Andrea Allen Jonesboro, AR

Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. House of Representatives - Congressman Rick Crawford

Jessica DeLoach Sabin                Little Rock, AR 

Executive Director, Arkansans for the Arts

Bevin Hunter Little Rock, AR

Senior Advisor, Delta Regional Authority

Spencer Lucker Little Rock, AR

Communications & Public Engagement Manager, Delta Regional Authority

Robert Moery  Carlisle, AR 

Liaison, Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson

Abby Olivier  Little Rock, AR 

Community Relations Manager,  Clinton School Center on Community Philanthropy

Trudy Redus  Pine Bluff, AR 

Manager, Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation

Wesley Ward  Lake City, AR 

Secretary of Agriculture, Arkansas Agriculture Department

Peggy Wright

Forrest City, AR 

Director, Delta Studies Center, Arkansas State University; Instructor, Political Science Department

Emily Burke  Murphysboro, IL

County Board Representative, Jackson County Board

Steven Mitchell    

Benton, IL 

Technology & Communications Manager, ManTraCon Corporation

Jennifer Olson

Carterville, IL

Commercial Lending, Farmers State Bank

Diane Regan

Carbondale, IL

Attorney & Consultant


Brandi Harless

Paducah, KY  CEO, Personal Medicine Plus
Mark Lee Madisonville, KY    

President, Paragon Development Consultants

Mayor Carolyn Townsend     Dixon, KY

Mayor, City of Dixon

Chris Wooldridge Murray, KY

District Director, Murray State Small Business Development Center

Tracy Ausberry  Monroe, LA 

Senior Planner, North Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Inc.

Cole Avery  Jonesboro, LA 

Communications Director, U.S. House of Representatives - Congressman Ralph Abraham

Katrina Branson  West Monroe, LA 

Director of Human Resources, Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Inc.

Domonique Dickerson      New Orleans, LA         

Legislative Director, New Orleans City Council

Cole Fields  Monroe, LA 

Co-Founder, BrokerSouthAg Investments

Mayor Adam T. Holland     

Oak Grove, LA

Mayor, Town of Oak Grove

Courtney Hornsby

Winnsboro, LA

President, West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce


Joshua Bower

Jackson, MS Workforce Specialist, Mississippi Development Authority

Dr. Rolando Herts

Cleveland, MS Director, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning

Lane Riley

Cleveland, MS Program Director, Delta Hands for Hope

Shellie Michael

Clinton, MS CEO, Mississippi Minority Business Alliance, Inc.

Amanda Taylor

Clarksdale, MS Senior Project Manager, Delta Regional Authority

Jessie Whitley

Greenville, MS Water/Utility Director, City of Greenville

Penelope Davis-McGath     

Poplar Bluff, MO    Executive Director, Downtown Poplar Bluff Inc. 

Doug Friend

Fredericktown, MO   

City Administrator/Economic Developer, City of Fredericktown

Maude Harris

Sikeston, MO 

Doctor, University of Missouri Extension

Rachelle Johnson

Sikeston, MO 

Administrator, Mississippi County Health Department

Kristopher Klaus

Perryville, MO

Vice President, Klaus Construction

Margaret Yates

Millersville, MO

Grant Administrator, Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission


Landy Fuqua 

Martin, TN 

Director, UT Martin REED Center/Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Rodger Jowers 

Jackson, TN 

Southwest Regional Coordinator, Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth

Travis Martin 

Jackson, TN    

Principal, TLM Associates, Inc.

Mayor William Rawls, Jr. 

Brownsville, TN

Mayor, City of Brownsville

Nichole Saulsberry-Scarboro     

Memphis, TN       

Project Manager, Mayor's Innovation and Delivery Team

Mayor Allan Sterbinsky 

Stanton, TN 

Mayor, Town of Stanton

Jimmie Tucker 

Memphis, TN 

Managing Principal, Self + Tucker Architects

“It’s always exciting to see the new class come together for the first time at orientation. Each year we strive to provide an educational and meaningful experience for our participants, and this year is no different,” said Amanda Richardson, Director of the Delta Leadership Institute. “The leaders from our region that comprise this year’s class are exceptional, and I look forward to seeing how they collaborate throughout the year and beyond DLI."

Since 2005, the DLI has worked to improve the decisions made by community leaders across the Delta by broadening their understanding of regional issues, building a corps of alumni that have a regional and national perspective, developing a toolkit of resources for addressing issues facing their local communities, and providing the training and professional development needed to extend the pipeline of skilled local leadership within Delta communities.

To download the full list of the 2015-2016 Executive Academy Class XI, click here.

Spencer Lucker
(202) 434-4842