CDI Profiles

CDI Profile of April 2010: Larry Johnson 

Larry Johnson

“By attending CDI for the last two summers I have learned to focus on the strengths and assets in our community and not just the needs and weaknesses. CDI has equipped me with the knowledge to help plan efforts to build assets that increase the capacity of residents to improve their quality of life. When the individual leaders and institutional leaders become involved in the process of community development, mobilize the community in setting goals and strategies, change can take place anywhere, even in the Delta. As a Pastor and community leader, CDI has given me the tools to better understand my role as a facilitator who encourages others, and helps people help themselves.”

Larry Johnson is Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist church in Bald Knob, Arkansas, CEO of Larry Johnson ministries, and the founder and Director of S.A.C.K. (Summer Activities Club for Kids). He also serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity for White County, and White County Invested in Substance Abuse Eradication (WISE). Pastor Larry is married to Patricia Kelly Johnson, and they three sons, a daughter, and three adorable grandchildren.

CDI Profile of March 2010: Mike Armour 

Mike Armour

“CDI has been a great resource for me in not only expanding my knowledge of community and economic development by the instructors at the institute, but also meeting and networking with professionals in the state and region.  This has allowed me to find more ‘best practices’  to implement in the 24 county region of Mississippi we serve. Anyone who is serious about getting practical education to help their community and advance their career professionally should consider CDI!”

Mike Armour was appointed by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to serve as the 11th Executive Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission in February 2004. Prior to this appointment, he spent 8 years as Vice-President and Senior Relations Officer of the Peoples Bank & Trust Company, now the Renasant Bank, where he managed the Sales Finance and Indirect Divisions and the Prime Time Gold Program. Armour also spent 15 years with Ford Motor Credit Company as an Auditor, Collector, Credit Analyst and as a liaison with Ford Government Affairs in Washington D.C.

CDI Profile of February 2010: Alex Collier 

Alex Collier

Year 2 participant, Alex Collier, has already begun using his CDI training to impact rural areas. Alex says, “CDI has shown me that there is never a quick fix method to community development. It requires a well thought out, strategic plan, that everyone in the town can look at to answer questions. Addressing community development issues in ‘small town’ Arkansas can be a major challenge but one thing that CDI has taught me is to never give up on the betterment of your community. Yes, there will be setbacks and even times when you just want to give up, but I believe it is consistency that gets more people on the band wagon. In turn, this allows for a larger, more effective presence within your community.”

Alex Collier is Regional Commerce Director for White River Rural Health Center and real estate agent at Hopkins and Associates Realty. He lives in Augusta, AR, where he moved back after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.


CDI Profile of January 2010: Tim Wooldridge 

Tim Wooldridge

“As executive director of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities, I understand the important role higher education plays in economic development. UCA also recognizes their important outreach role in economic development by addressing the fundamental need of building leadership capacity among decision makers. CDI is a relevant and substantive program that helps leaders become even more effective in bringing economic development to our state. I would urge newly elected officials to make CDI a first priority, and incumbent office holders wanting to jump start economic activity, to also attend.”



Katherine Gilbert – 2009 Ernest Whitelaw Award Winner 

Katherine Gilbert

CDI Year 3 student, Katherine Gilbert, was selected as the 2009 Ernest Whitelaw Award Winner. Katherine is the Director of Business Retention and Expansion for the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority in Houma, Louisiana.Each year, participants in the Year 3 graduating class select a peer to receive the Ernest Whitelaw Award.

Recipients exemplify the highest standards of dedication to the field of community development and demonstrate strong leadership throughout their CDI experience.  “Katherine has been an enthusiastic and dedicated participant.  She’s assumed leadership roles in the class and shows a spirit of caring and inclusion.  She’s always willing to assist and involve fellow students and has a strong sense of personal integrity,” said Kelly Lyon, CDI Director.

When asked about winning the award, Katherine stated, “I was honored to receive the Ernest L. Whitelaw Award from my peers. It was a surprise — not something I’d particularly thought about as I went about my weeks at CDI. But to me, it illustrated that I’d achieved the goal of trying to make the most of the entire CDI experience — the sessions, the networking and the social aspects — to further my training and career.”

Katherine joined Terrebonne Economic Development Authority in 2006 and has worked to serve more than 800 businesses and start-up enterprises since that time to grow, strengthen and otherwise assist companies in the Terrebonne Parish area. Before becoming an economic developer, Katherine spent nearly a decade working in and writing about the business community and state programs affecting business interests. Currently, Katherine is working toward her Master’s Degree in Community and Economic Development at the University of Central Arkansas and her professional community and economic development (PCED) certification.

Pictured from left to right: Katherine Gilbert, 2009 Ernest Whitelaw Winner, and Duane Bullard and Dennisa Pennington Year 3 Directors.