How does CDI impact its participants? Don’t ask us, ask them.

Our team has reached out to participants spanning the three decades to document how CDI has helped shape them, the communities they serve, and the organizations they represent.

2017 CDI graduate Chris Wasson of Entergy Arkansas shared his journey through CDI:

Why would you recommend someone attend CDI? “CDI has given me a fresh perspective of the challenges that face our communities as well as the tools and resources to help overcome those challenges.

What was your number one take away from CDI? “You can not achieve community and economic development success by yourself. Success requires a team moving in the same direction. I learned to use the abilities that others bring to the table and how to build solid networking relationships.”

Ruth Nichols Testimonial

Wonder Lowe is the founder and executive director of The Butterfly Effect in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Heather Hendrickson is a Research Specialist with Entergy Arkansas, Inc., a CDI graduate, and a UCA alum.

Candace Williams, executive director of the Rural Community Alliance, is a member of CDI class of 2017.

Randy Holland, Mayor of Mayflower, is a graduate of CDI class of 2015.

Drew Williams, with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and an Ernest Whitelaw Award recipient, also values the relationships built during CDI. “CDI interaction helps move professional association into personal friendships that are built on trust. These relationships that might normally take years to develop are expedited by the close working relationship found at CDI. My job is relationship building and CDI speeds that up for quicker connections on a personal level and make me more effective professionally.” Williams had his aha moment with Newtown which “helped me understand the politics of dealing with people. We were able to explore why people do or think what they do. People don’t act rationally all the time. Newtown, case studies and simulations helped me really understand community development process and practice.”

Alumni Book - Ivy OwenIvy Owen, Executive Director for the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, was an experienced developer when he came to CDI but says that “CDI had more impact on my career than I thought it would. I had a very long career in economic development and had just been getting by with learning by doing. I was working with six communities spread over a one hundred eighty mile radius of the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi. I was doing land use planning with clients that knew very little about zoning and such and I was faced with the challenge of being an outsider telling leaders of a sovereign nation what to do. There was little trust and many challenges. CDI helped me understand how to build relationships, to understand the basics of community development and the importance of never burning a bridge. CDI taught me how to use community development principles on more than one platform—establishing and retaining relationship, over the short and long term.” He says the presentation on diversity woke him up more than anything and changed his perspective on working with people.