Presley named as Delta Leadership fellow

Published 11:27 am Monday, November 19, 2018

Staff Report

The Delta Leadership Institute (DLI), a program sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), recently welcomed 31 fellows to the 2018-19 Executive Academy. The fellows will participate in the 10-month program to improve their skills in community leadership and policy development, promote regional collaboration and help drive economic growth in DRA’s eight-state region.

Chelesa Presley of Batesville was one of five future leaders chosen from Mississippi. Also representing Mississippi at the Executive Academy will be Christopher Hinton and Theresa Kennedy of Ridgeland, Janie Mortimer of Winona, and Lauren Wilson of Brandon.

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Presley is an the outreach coordinator for Tougaloo College’s Delta Health Partners Healthy Start Initiative.

“These 31 DLI fellows are leaders in their communities and we look forward to the energy and ideas they will deliver to enhance economic development in the Delta region,” said DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell. “Their collaboration and teamwork will help them develop skills that will strengthen job growth and make our region and communities more competitive.”

The fellows, who were selected by their state’s governor 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.

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.

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