River Region leaders are among the graduates in the 2023 Class of the DRA Leadership Development Program

CLARKSDALE, Miss. – Two River Region leaders are among the 37 graduates of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) Executive Academy, an extensive, nine-month leadership development program that brings together public, private, and nonprofit sector leaders from the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions. The 2023 DLI Executive Academy Class was selected through a competitive application process led by DRA’s eight state governors and DRA’s federal co-chairman.


The 2023 class includes Jeremy Tanz of Perryville, who is the Executive Director, Southeast Missouri Regional Planning & Economic Development Commission and Illinois State Senator Terri Bryant.


Other Missouri graduates are:


Kelly Brueggen, Director of Grants & Marketing, Washington County Memorial Hospital

Sara Ezell, Project Director, SEMO Health Network

Morgan McIntosh, Executive Director of Downtown Poplar Bluff, Inc., City of Poplar Bluff

Jeremy Tanz, Executive Director, Southeast Missouri Regional Planning & Economic Development Commission


Other Illinois graduates are:


Dori Bigler, City Administrator, City of Anna

Terri Bryant, Illinois State Senator, Illinois General Assembly

Josh Downs, Mayor, City of Du Quoin, Deputy Director of Outreach & Community Affairs, Illinois Comptroller’s Office

Quianya Enge, Research Assistant/Small Business Advisor, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Terance Henry, IT Director, City of Marion


“The Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy is an essential instrument for nurturing community placemaking and capacity building in the Delta region,” said Federal Co-Chairman, Dr. Corey Wiggins. “This program equips a dedicated and diverse group of leaders to drive change within and outside of their communities and accelerate prosperity across the region.”


Since 2005, the DLI Executive Academy has provided leadership development to more than 700 community leaders from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and industries to improve economic competitiveness and social viability throughout the Delta region. DRA created the program to empower a corps of leaders with the tools, experiences, and networks to address local and regional economic development challenges.


The graduates participated in six in-person sessions led by local, regional, and national experts and covered policy areas and skills related to public infrastructure, regional transportation systems, workforce development, coalition-building, and other fields necessary to facilitate economic development in the Delta. As a result, DLI Executive Academy fellows graduate with enhanced decision-making skills, policy development know-how, strengthened leadership capacity, and a mutual understanding of regional, state, and local culture and issues. 


The 2023 DLI Executive Academy graduates also include:



Megan Blackwell, Development Assistant, Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission

Mandy Guin, Special Projects Coordinator, Delta Regional Authority

Collins Pettaway, III, Senior Consultant, The Pettapull Firm



Joshua Agee, Mayor, City of Paragould

Kristi Hopper, Executive Director, Main Street Osceola

Ronald Hunt, Attorney, Arkansas Fair Housing Commission

Kendra Phillips, Consultant, Phillips Consulting Firm

Aaron Pilkington, Vice President of Strategic Communications, ARcare

Brendan Spaulding, Field Representative, U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman



Corey Elder, Field Representative, U.S. Representative James Comer

Ruthann Padgett, Vice President, Madisonville Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation



Ben Armstrong, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Outreach, NextOp

Lindora Baxter, CEO, Xtreme Measures Women Business Center

Bryan Creekmore, Attorney, Guerriero and Guerriero

April Hawthorne, Executive Director, Baton Rouge North Economic Development District

Mark Herbert, Government & Community Relations, Louisiana Department of Public Safety

Derrick Johnson, Mayor, Town of Cheneyville



Otis Anthony, II, Mississippi State Representative, Mississippi House of Representatives

Edmund Buckner, Dean & Director of Land-Grant Programs, Alcorn State University

Whitney S. French, Director of Healthcare & Community Engagement, Teen Health Mississippi

Keandre Haywood, Financial Management Coordinator, Delta Regional Authority

Shelley Ritter, Executive Director, Delta Blues Museum

Tracey Rosebud, Mississippi State Representative, Mississippi House of Representatives

Alfonzo White, Director of Television Studio/Instructor, Mississippi Valley State University

Mary Williams, CEO, Urgent & Primary Care of Clarksdale



R. Chad Davis, Owner, Davis Wealth Services

Amity Schuyler, Senior Vice President Workforce Development, Greater Memphis Chamber

Waletha Wasson, Program Director, A 21st Century Initiative: Oral-Systemic and Population-Based Health for All, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry 


Additional information about DRA’s DLI Executive Academy is available at Delta Leadership Institute – Delta Regional Authority (dra.gov).