Leadership in the National Political Arena was the focus of the recent study-travel tour for Class I of the Mid-South Delta Leaders (MSDL) program. Forty-one Deltans from throughout the region spent a week in Washington, D.C. deepening their understandings of national governmental agencies, institutions and politics.
“The most significant part of the trip was getting first-hand knowledge of how our national policy makers operate,”said Amanda Williams, MSDL class member from Greenville, MS.
One of MSDL’s six principles for effective leadership states that the leader of the 21st century knows how to positively impact public policy and the public governance processes. This study tour provided the MSDL class members with on-sight educational experiences in public policy issues and community and economic development strategies.
During the study tour, legislators and their staff met with the group, presented an overview of how public policy is established at the federal level and explained strategies to influence policy formation and adoption. They also discussed their unique perspectives on leadership in the national public policy environment in Washington.
Dr. Alice Warner, program director for policy at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), and Mr. Pat Babcock, Public Policy Associates, Inc. and former director of public policy at WKKF, joined the class each morning to debrief. Warner said, “With public policy, timing is everything. It is essential to capitalize on the resources and the opportunities that are available.”
The Children’s Defense Fund explained their role in protecting the rights of children and families and how Deltans can get involved in their efforts. Dr. Ray Simon, AR native with the U.S. Department of Education, discussed No Child Left Behind and upcoming strategies for this initiative.
Lois Boyd, MSDL class member from Marianna, AR, stated, “The opportunity to meet with the Children’s Defense Fund was excellent. They issued a challenge to us to come back to the Delta and work harder than ever to help make this a better place for families and children.”
MSDL is funded by the WKKF/ Mid-South Delta Initiative, through a partnership between Delta State University, Arkansas State University and Grambling State University in Louisiana.