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Arkansas State University
March 15, 2005 -- “Class I is over and now it’s on to Class II,” said Jerry L. Smith of the Mid-South Delta Leaders program (MSDL), a tri-state Delta regional leadership development program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 15 Arkansans completed the program in January and, according to Smith, 15 more are currently being sought to start the program later this spring.
“We are searching for individuals throughout the 55-county Delta region of Arkansas who are committed to improving the quality of life in the Delta and have a strong commitment to professional and personal growth and development,” stated Smith, MSDL Arkansas Coordinator.
Smith agrees with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that local and regional leadership is the key to developing the Delta. “These 15 Arkansans, along with the 24 other Class I participants from the Delta counties in Louisiana and Mississippi, plus 45 more in Class 2 and 45 more in the final class, will give the region a critical mass of networked leaders – change masters, I like to call them,” said Smith.
David Fletcher, who serves as Mayor of the City of Monette and was a participant in Class I, summarized the training by stating, “This was the most fantastic experience in my life.”
There are four main retreats during the 18-month program. “Special features for Class II will be their development of a tri-state summit on economic development, education and public policy, and a Delta heritage tour that will allow the participants to just be tourists busing up and down the Delta,” said Christy Montesi, MSDL Tri-State Director.
“Obviously, this is not for everybody,” said Smith, “and we won’t start the next class until we do find the right mix of committed people; but with the Kellogg Foundation on board, I assure you it is a rare opportunity.”
Class I participants from Arkansas were David Fletcher, Monette; Dennis Calaway, Everett Fair and Tammy Fowler, Jonesboro; John Phillips, Walnut Ridge; Jack Crumbly, Earle; Frederic Smith, Wynne; Joe Guy, Osceola; Lynette Graham, Lake Village; Dee Davis, Hazen; Rita Conley, Pine Bluff; Diane Luebker, Stuttgart; Robbia Johnson and Lois Boyd, Marianna; and Mark McElroy, Tillar.
MSDL is a partnership of Delta State University, serving as the lead partner and fiscal agent, Arkansas State University and Grambling State University.
For more information go towww.msdi.org, or contact Jerry L. Smith, Delta Center for Economic Development at Arkansas State University, at 870-910-8180 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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