A Southern Illinois University Carbondale staff member from Ellis Grove is among five people from Southern Illinois to recently graduate as a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Delta Leadership Institute Fellow.
Karen Stallman, director of community relations in University Communications and Marketing, is among those to graduate from the leadership institute's 10-month executive academy. Over the past year, Stallman participated in six training sessions on regional and local economic and community development tools working for Delta communities to spark ideas to implement in the region.
As director of community relations, Stallman develops partnerships and enhances existing partnerships on behalf of SIU in Southern Illinois. She works with local chambers of commerce, community colleges, school districts and other organizations to connect the campus to local communities.
"The Delta Leadership Institute has been a wonderful opportunity to learn about communities in the delta and to connect with others who are working hard to make their communities successful," Stallman said. "I look forward to using what I have learned to introduce and implement new initiatives in our region."
Stallman, a double alumna of the university, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural education. She came to the university in 2013.
The program allows participants to help further their skills in community leadership and policy development to promote regional collaboration and local economic growth across the authority's eight-state region, according to a news release. There were 48 people participating from Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
A federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000, the DRA's goal is to "help create jobs, build communities and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development and infrastructure projects in 252 counties and parishes." The DRA has provided leadership development to more than 500 community leaders, according to the release.
The four other graduating leadership institute fellows from Southern Illinois are:
• Tiffany George, Villa Ridge, executive director, Southern Five Regional Planning District & Development Commission.
• Tom Harness, Carterville, Tom Harness Digital Marketing.
• Jenny Pruitt, Broughton, district aide for U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Belleville.
• Mark York, Equality, finance chair, Gallatin County Board.
The leadership institute "is an important tool to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of economic development efforts in the Delta region," Chris Caldwell, DRA chair, said in a news release. "We are investing in these Illinois leaders who are ready to help us and our partners contribute to job growth for Delta residents."
The regional authority has invested more than $185 million into projects that have helped create and retain more than 55,000 jobs, train nearly 45,000 workers and deliver sewer and water improvements to more than 238,000 residents and businesses.