NEWS: Delta Leadership Institute graduates 50 from 2015-16 Executive Academy, 4 from Illinois

August 11, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Fifty community leaders have successfully completed the year-long Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy, a program of the Delta Regional Authority. The Executive Academy is 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.

Each graduate completed leadership development coursework and field studies in the year-long program that included five sessions in Delta communities and one session in Washington, DC.

Four DLI fellows, nominated by Governor Bruce Rauner and DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, represented the State of Illinois this year:

  • Emily Burke of Murphysboro
  • Steven Mitchell of Benton
  • Jennifer Olson of Carterville
  • Diane Regan of Carbondale

“For our communities to grow and support strong economies that create opportunities for Delta residents, we need local leaders that understand the local and regional challenges that we face as well as the networks and resources that can help identify solutions and address these challenges,” Chairman Masingill said. “The Delta Leadership Institute’s dynamic programming and ever-growing alumni network are helping to meet this need and empower our region’s leaders to make the Delta a better place to live and work.”

In addition to the program certificate, participants graduate with an industry-recognized certification in Crucial Conversations. Present for the ceremony were Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall, and Victor Narusis, Deputy Director for Business Development of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Governor Rauner’s designee to the DRA Board.

“The Delta region is an important element to Illinois’ overall economy,” Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said. “The Illinois Delta Leadership Institute fellows have shown themselves to be strong leaders and advocates for their communities and the state. Through the training they’ve received and the relationships they’ve built with other leaders from across the Delta region, they now have additional tools to drive workforce development and economic growth within their communities.”

About Delta Regional Authority

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
(202) 744-3558,

Program Contact: Amanda Richardson
(501) 912-5722,