In its 12th year, 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 people of the Delta region.
“Alabama has a strong partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, and I am proud of the community leaders from Alabama who have been chosen for the new class,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “I know firsthand the importance of DLI to rural communities and the state as a whole. I will serve as the incoming DRA State’s Co-chair, and I look forward to seeing the success of this class.”
The 2016-2017 DLI Executive Academy fellows from Alabama are:
- Carrie Banks: Communications Director, Alabama League of Municipalities
- Marcus Campbell: Chairman, Sumter County Commission
- Cedric Campbell: Project Manager, Board of Directors, Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc.
- Winfield Ezell, Jr: CEO, Obsidian Creative Studios
- Darrio Melton: State Representative and Mayor-Elect, City of Selma
- Maureen Neighbors: Community Services Unit Chief, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs
- Susan Smith: City Councilwoman, City of Atmore
- Tiffany Smith: Americorps VISTA/Community Needs and Partnership Development, United Way of West Alabama
Each student will complete leadership development coursework and field studies in the yearlong program that includes seven sessions in Delta communities and Washington D.C — engaging in advocacy training, case study discussions, and on-the-ground field experiences of priority issue areas for the region, including: workforce training and education; entrepreneurship and disaster resilience for small businesses; public health; policy and governance; transportation and infrastructure; and culture and tourism.
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. Through the Rural Communities Advancement Program, the DRA has provided leadership development to more than 400 community leaders over 10 years and strengthened regional collaboration with its Delta Leadership Institute.
“The DRA is committed to increasing the capacity of our region’s talent — and we believe that investing in our people is the best way to do just that,” said DRA Federal Co-chairman Chris Masingill. “These leaders have already accomplished so much in their own communities. Now the DLI will help them further their work —establishing regional networks and harnessing the energy of these leaders to make our Delta stronger.”