35th annual Community Development Institute concludes with graduation and awards ceremony

A diverse group of over 130 community leaders from the mid-South region participated in the 35th annual Community Development Institute (CDI) at the University of Central Arkansas. The five-day training session was held Aug. 2-6.

2021 Bill Miller Award Recipient
(left to right) Shelby Fiegel, CDI director; Amy Whitehead, award recipient; and Monieca West, Arkansas Department of Higher Education

Amy Whitehead, UCA chief of staff, received the Bill Miller Award as recognition for her long-standing leadership and support of CDI. The Bill Miller Community Development Award recognizes an individual who has had a significant, positive impact on CDI. Whitehead previously served as CDI director and assistant vice president for Community and Workforce Development in the Division of Outreach and Community Engagement. She holds her professional community and economic developer certification and is a graduate of CDI.

2021 Friend of Community Development Institute Award
(left to right) Shaneil Ealy, associate vice president of Outreach and Community Engagement; Dave Roberts, award recipient; and Shelby Fiegel, CDI director

Crafton Tull was honored with the Friend of the Community Development Award, which is offered each year to an individual or organization that demonstrates strong support for community development and CDI. Crafton Tull has been a longtime sponsor of CDI and has partnered with CDI and the Center for Community and Economic Development to host walk audits and First Impressions Tours in rural communities around the state of Arkansas. Dave Roberts, senior vice president of business development and planning, accepted the award. He and Julie Luther Kelso, project manager and director of planning at Crafton Tull, are also longtime presenters at CDI.

CDI Director Shelby Fiegel said, “Our staff is fortunate to have been positively impacted by Amy and Crafton Tull. CDI has continued to be the most successful training program in the mid-South because of people and organizations like them. They are more than deserving of these recognitions. We are thankful for their support and partnership as we continue to serve community leaders across Arkansas and the mid-South.”

Ernest Whitelaw Award Recipient
(left to right) Lisa Johnson, of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce and Year 3 Class director; Jamie Rayford, award recipient; and Shelby Fiegel CDI director

The CDI 2021 graduating class chose Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer Jamie Rayford 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.

Year 2 Champion Award Recipient
(left to right) Tandee White, of Entergy Arkansas and Year 2 Class director; Candace Williams, of Rural Community Alliance and Year 2 Class director; Alma Mayor Jerry Martin, award recipient; and Shelby Fiegel, CDI director

Alma Mayor Jerry Martin was chosen by his cohort as the Year 2 Champion and Christopher Cook, Entergy Arkansas, was chosen as the Year 1 Champion by his cohort.

2021 Year 1 Champion Award Recipient
(left to right) Shelby Fiegel, CDI director; Bill Luther, of the Union County/El Dorado Chamber of Commerce and Year 1 Class director; Christopher Cook, award recipient; and Talicia Richardson, of 64.6 Downtown and Year 1 Class director

In addition to the awards ceremony, the week’s activities featured Matt Dunne, Center on Rural Innovation, as the CDI 2021 keynote speaker. Cohorts also participated in several simulations, case studies and leadership development activities. As a special initiative of the CDI 2021 institute, a group of CDI graduates worked directly with the city of Monticello to assist the community in their future community and economic development efforts.

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

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.