2019 Friend of Community Development Institute Award
Left to right: Associate Vice President of UCA Outreach and Community Engagement Dr. Shaneil Ealy; Manager of Economic and Business Development at AEP SWEPCO Eric Basinger; and CDI Director Amy Whitehead

2019 Bill Miller Award Recipient
Left to right: Melanie Codemo, daughter of Bill Miller; award recipient Debra Banks; Joyce Miller, wife of Bill Miller; and CDI Director Amy Whitehead

A diverse group of over 140 community leaders from the mid-south region participated in the 33rd annual Community Development Institute (CDI) at the University of Central Arkansas. The five-day training session, held July 29 through Aug. 2, concluded with a special graduation and awards ceremony.

Debra Banks, loan officer and marketing manager at the Arkansas Teachers Federal Credit Union, received the Bill Miller Award in recognition of her long-standing leadership and support of CDI, which includes 18 years of service as a CDI Year 2 Class Director. She was also the CDI 2000 Year 3 class Ernest Whitelaw Award winner, and she is an advocate and poet laureate.

“CDI is without a doubt the best experience you will ever have in your life,” said Banks.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (AEP SWEPCO) was honored with the Friend of the Community Development Institute Award, offered each year to an individual or organization that demonstrates strong support for community development and CDI. AEP SWEPCO has provided 30 scholarships to CDI over the years. Eric Basinger, manager of AEP SWEPCO’s economic and business development, accepted the award.

“We are honored to receive this award, he said. “CDI scholarships are a great investment in the communities we serve.”

The CDI 2019 graduating class chose Lewisville Mayor Ethan Dunbar as the Ernest Whitelaw Award recipient. The Ernest Whitelaw Award recognizes an individual for exemplifying the following points: dedication to professional community development practice; proven involvement in the CDI educational experience, demonstrated by enthusiastic individual and group class participation, willingness to assume leadership roles and regular class attendance; a spirit of caring and inclusion shown by a willingness to assist, enable and involve fellow students in the CDI experience; and strong personal integrity.

“We are excited to recognize our special award winners for their significant contributions to the institute,” said Assistant Vice President of Community and Workforce Development for UCA Outreach and Community Engagement Amy Whitehead. “Their leadership is one of the reasons that CDI continues to be the go-to resource for community and economic development training in the mid-south.”

In addition to the awards ceremony, the week’s activities featured keynote speakers Mallorie and Jim Rasberry and Josh Nowell of HGTV’s series “Home Town.” Attendees also participated in several simulations, case studies and leadership development activities. As a special initiative of the CDI 2019 institute, a group of CDI graduates participated in the Advanced Year and worked directly with the city of Camden to assist the community in its future community and economic development efforts.

About CDI
The Community Development Institute, established in 1987 at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas trains community and economic development professionals from Arkansas and surrounding states. The complete CDI experience is a three-year training program, with five days of training per year. Participants move through the program curriculum in cohorts, and are exposed to a comprehensive, applied approach to the field of community and economic development.

For more information about CDI, visit uca.edu/cdi, or contact Shelby Fiegel at (501) 450-5269 or sfiegel@uca.edu.