Delta Regional Authority Announces 2024 Fellows for Leadership Development Program

Delta Regional Authority Announces 2024 Fellows for Leadership Development Program



November 21, 2023


Jessica Shappley


Delta Regional Authority Announces 2024 Fellows for Leadership Development Program

Twenty-nine community leaders from eight states selected for Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy

Clarksdale, MS – Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has selected 29 community leaders from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee as fellows of the 2024 Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) Executive Academy, an extensive nine-month leadership development program that brings together public, private, and nonprofit sector leaders from the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions. The 2024 DLI Executive Academy fellows were selected through a competitive application process led by DRA’s eight state governors and DRA’s federal co-chairman.

“The Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy is an essential instrument for nurturing community placemaking and capacity building in the Delta region,” said Federal Co-Chairman Dr. Corey Wiggins. “This program will give this dedicated and diverse group of leaders the tools they need to drive change within and outside their communities and accelerate prosperity across the region.”

Since 2005, the DLI Executive Academy has provided leadership development to more than 700 community leaders from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and industries to improve economic competitiveness and social viability throughout the Delta region. DRA created the program to empower a corps of leaders with the tools, experiences, and networks to address local and regional economic development challenges.

The fellows will participate in six in-person sessions led by local, regional, and national experts and cover policy areas and skills related to public infrastructure, regional transportation systems, workforce development, coalition-building, and other fields necessary to facilitate economic development in the Delta. As a result, DLI Executive Academy fellows graduate with enhanced decision-making skills, policy development know-how, strengthened leadership capacity, and a mutual understanding of regional, state, and local culture and issues.

The 2024 DLI Executive Academy fellows are:


Albert Turner, President-CEO, Emerson Company

Terrence Windham, Mayor, City of Aliceville, AL

Warren “Billy” Young, Assistant Attorney General, Alabama Department of Revenue; President, Selma City Council


Tomeka Butler, Mayor, City of Eudora, AR

Jennifer Hobbs, Mayor, City of Wynne, AR

Yancey Kyle, Field Representative, Office of U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman

Dr. Karen Powers-Liebhaber, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Black River Technical College Foundation, Black River Technical College

Jamie R. Wright, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Alliance for Rural Impact


Jennifer Huson, County Administrator, Jackson County, IL

Veronica McCurdy, Board Member, Village of Tamms, IL

Lee Messersmith, Mayor, City of Benton, IL


Whitney Walker, Director of Sales and Marketing, Paducah-McCracken County Convention and Expo Center

Mark Welch, President, Fulton-Hickman Counties Economic Development Partnership


Evan Boudreaux, Director of Economic Development, Policy and Public Affairs, St. Mary Parish Government, Office of Economic Development

Roderick Hampton, Mayor, Town of Haynesville, LA

Meaghan McCormack, Chief Executive Officer, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation

Meghan Risinger, Executive Grant Writer, City of Monroe, LA

Clarence Vappie, Mayor, Town of Baldwin, LA


Amy Baugus, Project Officer, Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission

Jake Crafton, Mayor, City of Kennett, MO

Nichole Zielke, Senior Community Development Specialist, Meramec Regional Planning Commission


Thomas Gregory, Executive Director, Mississippi Main Street Association

Marvin Jones, Circuit Clerk and County Registrar, Humphreys County, MS, effective January 1, 2024

Danielle Morgan, Executive Director, Mississippi Tourism Association

Nichole Rosebud, Mayor, City of Tutwiler, MS


Shannon Haynes, Chief Prosperity Officer, Ayers Foundation

Cheryl Green, Director, Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship, The Aspen Institute

Janna Hellums, Northwest Tennessee Regional Director, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

Alisha Montgomery Melton, Executive Director of Research, Outreach, and Economic Development, University of Tennessee at Martin

Additional information about DRA’s DLI Executive Academy is available at Delta Leadership Institute – Delta Regional Authority(


About the Delta Regional Authority

The DRA was established in 2000 as a formal framework for joint federal-state collaboration to promote and encourage the economic development of the lower Mississippi River and Alabama Black Belt regions. To fulfill this purpose, DRA invests in projects supporting transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training, and business development. DRA’s region encompasses 252 counties and parishes in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

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