UCA hosts 36th annual Community Development Institute 

150 leaders from across the Midsouth attended five-day event

The University of Central Arkansas hosted the 36th annual Community Development Institute earlier this month. More than 150 community leaders from across the Midsouth region participated in the five-day training session which culminated in a graduation and award ceremony. 

President and CEO of the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce Bill Luther received the Bill Miller Community Development Award as recognition for his long-standing leadership and support of CDI. This award recognizes an individual who has had a significant, positive impact on UCA’s Community Development Institute. Luther, who is a 2007 graduate of the program, has served as a CDI Year 1 class director for the past 10 years and is a member of the CDI Advisory Board. He holds a Professional Community and Economic Developer certification as designated by the Community Development Council, the governing body of CDI. He retired from a 39-year career at Entergy Arkansas before taking his current role with the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce.


2022 Bill Miller Award Recipient
Monieca West, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Bill Luther, El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, and Shelby Fiegel, director of UCA CDI

Thrive Inc. was honored with the Friend of Community Development Award, which is offered each year to an individual or organization that demonstrates strong support for community development and CDI. Thrive is a nonprofit design firm that applies a community-centric design process to the development of branding, graphic design, public art and other public amenities for Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, and the Delta region. Thrive has partnered with the CDI team on multiple projects in Arkansas including a branding initiative in Magnolia, Arkansas, a virtual grassroots mural workshop and other online and virtual programming.


2022 Friend of Community Development Institute Award
Sarah Melby (left) Maurice Jordan, and Ryan Biles, all from Thrive Inc., with Shelby Fiegel, director of UCA CDI, and Will Staley, Thrive Inc.

CDI Director Shelby Fiegel said, “Our staff is fortunate to call Bill Luther and Thrive our friends and partners. CDI has continued to be the most successful training program in the Midsouth because of people and organizations like them.We are thankful for their support as we continue to serve community leaders across Arkansas and the Midsouth.”

The CDI 2022 graduating class chose Kari Lapp of the Saline County Library 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. 


2022 Ernest Whitelaw Award Recipient
Lisa Johnson (left), Bossier Chamber of Commerce and CDI Year 3 Class director, Kari Lapp, Saline County Library, Shelby Fiegel, UCA CDI director and Kevin Sexton, Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association and CDI Year 3 class director

Chett Daniel of Crowder College was chosen by his cohort as the Year 2 Champion, and Wilson Marseilles of the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce was chosen as the Year 1 Champion by his cohort.


2022 Year 2 Champion Award Recipient
Chris Wasson, Entergy Arkansas and CDI Year 2 class director, Chett Daniel, Crowder College, Shelby Fiegel, UCA CDI director and Candace Williams, Rural Community Alliance and CDI Year 2 class director

2022 Year 1 Champion Award Recipient
Bill Luther, El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce and CDI Year 1 Class director, Talicia Richardson, 64.6 Downtown and CDI Year 1 Class director, Wilson Marseilles, Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce and Shelby Fiegel, UCA CDI director

In addition to the awards ceremony, the week’s activities featured John Carroll of City Leadership as the CDI 2022 keynote speaker. The week also included several simulations, case studies and leadership development activities. As a special initiative of CDI 2022, a group of CDI graduates, called the CDI Advanced Year, worked directly with the city of Mountain View 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.