Illinois selects 4 fellows for Delta leadership program

November 05, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois is sending four leaders from Southern Illinois to the Delta Regional Authority’s (DRA) Delta Leadership Institute (DLI). They will join fellows from the seven other Delta states to participate in the 10-month DLI Executive Academy program to help further their skills in community leadership and policy development, promote regional collaboration, and drive economic growth across DRA’s eight-state region.

“DLI fellows are strong community leaders who make an impressive impact on the states they represent and the Delta region as a whole,” said DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell. “They collaborate with colleagues from across our region to develop skills that prepare them to help strengthen economic development opportunities that will make our region and communities more competitive.”

Illinois’s DLI fellows will attend six sessions across the region, visiting each of the eight states in the DRA footprint. They will engage in policy and program development, advocacy training, case-study discussions, and on-the-ground field experiences aligned with DRA’s priorities for the region. Those priorities include: enhancing transportation and basic public infrastructure, supporting workforce training and development, and promoting business and economic development.

“We congratulate the four southern Illinois community leaders selected to participate in the DRA’s Delta Leadership Institute,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL). "The group brings a broad range of talent and experience to the program and their participation demonstrates an ongoing commitment to improving the quality of life in the region.”

The fellows, who were selected by Gov. Rauner and DRA leadership, represent a diverse cohort of community leaders. The class includes three members from Alabama; six from Arkansas; four from Illinois; two from Kentucky; five from Louisiana; five from Mississippi; one from Missouri; and five from Tennessee.

Illinois’s 2018-2019 DLI Executive Academy fellows are:

  • Ted Gutierrez, Carbondale | Managing Director at the Jackson County Mass Transit District
  • Deborah Johnson, Mounds | Trio Educational Talen Search Director at Shawnee Community College
  • Steven McKeown, Herrin | President of Kindled Flame Ministries
  • Travis Zettler, Sesser | City Alderman for the City of Sesser

Since 2005, DLI has worked to strengthen the knowledge and skills of community leaders across the Delta by broadening their understanding of regional issues and building a corps of alumni that have a regional and national perspective. Upon graduation, the 31 new members will have 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.

About the Delta Regional Authority and the Delta Leadership Institute

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 and infrastructure projects in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. DRA has provided leadership development to nearly 500 community leaders over twelve years and strengthened regional collaboration through the Delta Leadership Institute. DLI is a program of the Delta Regional Authority in partnership with three institutions of higher education from the DRA’s states: the University of Alabama, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro and the University of Louisiana Monroe. Learn more at

Contact: Andrew Moreau