Three Alabama Leaders Named DRA 2021 Delta Leadership Institute Fellows

December 07, 2020

CLARKSDALE, MSToday, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) named three Alabama leaders as fellows of the 2021 Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) Executive Academy.  DLI is an extensive, nine-month executive leadership program that brings together public, private, and nonprofit sector leaders from DRA’s eight-state region.  The 2021 DLI class will consist of 30 fellows from all eight DRA states.

The leadership program empowers fellows with the tools, experiences, and networks needed to address local and regional challenges.  Sessions led by local, regional, and national experts cover policy areas such as infrastructure and transportation, small business and entrepreneurship, workforce development, public health, and other fields necessary to facilitate economic growth in the Delta.  As a result, DLI fellows graduate with improved decision-making skills, policy development know-how, strengthened leadership capacity, and a mutual understanding of regional, state, and local cultures and issues.

“To enact change, you need strong leaders with bold yet thoughtful ideas to move the needle in the right direction,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell.  “The three fellows selected for the 2021 Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy are already leaders within their communities.  With the knowledge and skill sets gained through DLI, they will evolve to become the change agents needed to address the most pressing issues facing the Black Belt.”

The 2021 DLI fellows representing Alabama include:

  • Chris Beeker, Tuscaloosa | State Director/Alabama, USDA Rural Development

  • Kaia Greene, Birmingham | Project Manager, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Sarah Mills, Prattville | Regional Workforce Council Liaison, Alabama Department of Commerce - AIDT

"I am proud of these three Alabamians for taking part in a program that will enable them to gain valuable skills, insight and resources that will benefit the state as whole and the Black Belt region in particular,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “These leaders are prime examples of stepping up to better our state, and I look forward to the impact that their experience as part of the Delta Leadership Institute will have on their communities, the Black Belt and Alabama.”

Since 2005, the DLI Executive Academy has provided leadership development to more than 500 community leaders from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and industries to strengthen skills development, information sharing, regional collaboration, and improve the economic competitiveness and social viability of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions.  After graduation, DLI fellows will become members of the Delta Leadership Network, which provides peer-to-peer engagement opportunities for continued leadership development, information sharing, and collaboration with other leaders dedicated to the future of the Delta region.

DLI is a program of DRA in partnership with three institutions of higher education in the Delta region:  Arkansas State University, the University of Louisiana Monroe, and the University of Arkansas.


About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage the economic development of the lower Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt.  DRA invests in projects supporting transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training, and business development.  DRA’s mission is to help create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of those who reside in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state region.

DRA Media Contact:
Shawna Blair
Director of Communications and Public Engagement