Walton College of Business Collaborates with the Delta Leadership Institute

by Alondra Cruz

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has put developed the Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) as an organization created to improve the leadership skills and address the economic development of the region’s current and future leaders. The mission of the Delta Leadership Institute is to recognize, train, and develop its participants with the skills needed to face the global challenges of the future.  The University of Arkansas was selected to take part in this partnership, alongside The University of Louisiana Monroe, The University of Alabama, and Arkansas State University, to pursue these efforts. 

The Delta Leadership Institute focuses on promoting action-oriented leadership in the Delta region. Objectives of the organization include: instilling in leaders the importance of regional action across jurisdictional boundaries; Building awareness of DRA priorities in key areas such as business development with a focus on entrepreneurship, workforce education, transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, broadband, and healthcare; Developing a strong network of leaders who can work together across the region; Promoting action that will make a difference in the region; Executive leadership education, case studies and field experiences during the sessions that pertain to both the successes and failures of the region that can be replicated and avoided in their own communities; and Issuance of certificates to participants acknowledging and commending completion of DLI.

The participants of the DLI, otherwise known as fellows of the Executive Academy, meet for six sessions throughout a year-span. The thirty fellows were selected by the DRA federal co-chairman based on Delta Regional Authority criteria. A goal of the selection process is to reflect the diversity found in the Delta Region through the recruitment of the leaders. These leaders were trained in areas of external and organizational communications, problem-solving, planning, and economic development strategies, regional, local, and partnership collaboration, and consensus building skills. 

The role of the University of Arkansas is to coordinate with the University partners to lead, design, and deliver the executive development curriculum of the Executive Academy. The University of Arkansas specializes in designing and delivering executive leadership training as well as working with University partners to identify field experiences for each Executive Academy session that align with program goals. 

A recent session included the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), an interactive, immersion experience, hosted by Walton College Executive Education. The simulation, facilitated by the University of Central Arkansas, provided a glimpse into the structural barriers of poverty to transform participants’ perspectives about their own communities. In the latest session, Walton College Executive Education and the Delta Leadership Institute conducted a virtual session on “Leading with Equality: Harnessing the Strength of our Communities,” where participants learned of valuable tools to enable equitable decision making and insight on how to create authentic connections. 

Brent Williams, Associate Dean of Executive Education and Outreach at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, shares the excitement of Walton Executive Education’s partnership in the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy: “This amazing opportunity to partner with other universities has allowed us to serve Arkansas and Delta communities as we support the Walton College vision of being a catalyst for transforming lives.”  The application for the 2020-2021 academy is now open. Apply soon and join us for excellent economic development and leadership learning opportunities! Learn more and apply at: https://leadership.dra.gov