Incubator Manager Appointed to Delta Leadership Institute


Photo of Gina Harper

Gina Harper has been appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to participate in the Delta Leadership Institute.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 21, 2009 — Gina Harper, incubator manager and training coordinator for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University, has been appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to participate in the Delta Leadership Institute beginning in September.

 Harper will join four other appointees from Missouri in the eight-state academy which runs through June 2010. 

“I’m honored and hope I can live up to the others in our state who have already graduated from the Institute.  They are all hardworking leaders who I will rely heavily upon for direction and advice,” Harper said of the appointment.

Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University added, “We are proud that Governor Nixon and the Delta Regional Authority have selected Gina to participate in this important role. They have recognized that which we know very well about Gina — that she is a creative and skilled leader who is dedicated to serving others. Her appointment extends our valued partnership with the Delta Regional Authority and reaffirms the University’s commitment to stimulate local and regional economic development that improves the quality of lives, communities, and businesses.”

The Delta Leadership Institute, which is operated by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), is designed to create a corps of leaders with a regional and national perspective. The first class of the institute met in 2005. The program was operated by the DRA in cooperation with Delta State University at Cleveland, Miss. In April 2006, the DRA board chose the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa to coordinate the Delta Leadership Institute.

Many of the 252 counties and parishes that make up the Delta region are characterized by high poverty, high unemployment levels, low educational attainment, loss of skilled labor and a general lack of hope. Unable to establish development priorities, these counties and parishes have failed to keep up with counties and parishes in other areas of their states. Delta communities often lack the civic infrastructure, organizations and knowledge base necessary for sustained economic growth. Even those who are considered local leaders too often do not understand how good governance, quality infrastructure, adequate schools and quality health care services can work together to sustain growth.

The Delta Leadership Institute is designed to improve the decisions made by leaders across the region. Each of the eight governors and the federal co-chairman nominate four to five people per year for the program, resulting in a class of 30 to 40 Delta leaders. A strong alumni group, the Delta Leadership Network, is currently organizing.  It will allow these leaders to stay in touch with each other, sharing best practices and solutions to common problems.

“A good community is comprised of more than one generation, embraces transcending values that esteem each citizen and creates a sense of oneness where individuals set aside personal gain, benefit or goals for the sake of the group,” said Dr. John Blackburn of the University of Alabama, an expert on leadership development.