NEWS: Delta Regional Authority graduates 6 Mississippi leaders ready to improve their 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 six from Mississippi, 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.

“These graduates will strengthen Mississippi, and I thank them for taking an active role in improving their communities,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Being from the Delta, I appreciate the importance of leadership for this region of our state.”

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

  • Manivanh Chanprasith, Vicksburg | Chief Operating Officer, Billy's Original Foods
  • Thomas (Matthew) Harrison, Ripley | Executive Director, Tippah County Development Foundation
  • Staresha Hoskins, Clarksdale | Deputy SEDAP/RCAP Manager, Delta Regional Authority
  • Adrienne Hudson, Shelby | Co-Owner, Real Delta, LLC
  • Mary McClendon, Jackson | CEO, McClendon Training & Development
  • Mechelle Wallace, Alligator | Alderwoman, Town of Alligator

“We are proud of these six Mississippi graduates of DLI’s Executive Academy,” said Bobby Morgan, who is the state’s designee to the DRA Board. “Mississippi and the entire Delta region will rely on their contributions to our growth and development going forward.”

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 nearly $3.5 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 37,000 jobs and provided water and sewer service to more than 66,000 residents since DRA was established. Learn more at


Media Contact:
Andrew Moreau