The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Latest Agenda for Delta Conference in Washington, DC, Sept. 21-23, 2010

Posted on September 09, 2010 at 01:54 PM

We will have 11 Members of Congress, 12 high-level executive branch participants, grassroots leaders from all eight Delta states, and the turnout is currently at 118 people for the Delta conference in Washington, DC, Sept. 21-23, 2010. The latest version of the schedule is below, and we are still accepting late registrations.

We have a large number of pressing issues on our plate: –job creation/economic recovery from the recession;

–support for the Delta Regional Authority and their excellent new leaders Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill and Alternate Federal Cochairman Mike Masingill;

–health care for the underserved Delta, including support for the innovative Community Health House Network;

–long-term rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina and the oil disaster on the Gulf Coast; renewable energy expansion;

–opposition to FEMA’s ill-advised plan to redraw the flood plain maps and escalate flood insurance costs across the Delta;

–hunger and nurition, rural development and other USDA-related issues;

–educational improvements, expanded broadband access, civil rights and diversity, and other key issues for the eight-state region from Louisiana to southern Illinois and Missouri.

We will scrutinize the economic positions of key Congressional candidates. There are two hotly contested Senate races that have not only regional but national implications: in Arkansas between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Rep. John Boozman, and in Louisiana between Rep. Charlie Melancon and Sen. Vitter. We want to hear their views on economic recovery from the recession and urge all of them to do more for our economically distressed region.

We have also added a representative of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ office working on the Gulf Coast economic recovery plan. As you know, Mabus was formerly governor of Mississippi and is now President Obama’s choice to head up the Gulf Coast recovery. That session is Thursday, Sept. 23, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation

We also will have Vice President for Resources of BP, Darryl Willis at the Sept. 23 session. We want to hear from all points of view and ask questions of all important entities in our region.

If you would like to register, please make out the $100 check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

The latest agenda is below in this message:

Delta Grassroots Caucus Agenda, Sept. 21-23 Delta Conference in Washington, DC “Job Creation, Health Care and the Oil Disaster” OPENING SESSION: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Room B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives building

For those staying at the group hotel, Radisson at Reagan airport, we will go in groups of taxi cabs to the opening session, with three or four people per cab, leaving about 4:20 p.m.

RECEPTION, 5 P.M. TO 5:30 P.M.

5:25 Introduction–Lee Powell, executive director, Delta Caucus

  1. Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson–5:30 TO 5:40 P.M. (Introduced by Mike Marshall, Federal Alternate Cochair, Delta Regional Authority)

  2. Mayor Barrett Harrison, Blytheville, Arkansas 5:40 TO 5:50 p.m. (Job creation and FEMA’s ill-advised plan to redraw the flood plain maps and escalate flood insurance costs)

  3. Congressman Mike Ross–5:50 TO 6:10–

  4. Federal Cochair of the Delta Regional Authority, Chris Masingill (President Obama’s appointee to the DRA, recently confirmed by the US Senate) 6:10 to 6:30

  5. Dr. Mario Cruz-Penate, INVITED, Pan American Health Organization, Regional Adviser for Health Systems; World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office of the Americas; the Pan American Health Organization is a strong supporter of the Community Health House Network

7 to 8 p.m.–Panel on Job Creation/Economic Recovery

  1. Alan Gumbel, Moderator and Speaker, President, Gumbel & Associates, Memphis, Tennessee, veteran Delta regional development expert

  2. Alan Branson, COO, Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/HOPE Credit Union, based in Jackson, Mississippi; active across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana

  3. George Miles, Delta LISC, based in Greenville, Mississippi, active across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana

  4. Mayor Glen McCord, Yellow Bluff, Alabama

SENATE SESSION Wednesday morning, Sept. 22, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room 385 Senate Russell building

For those staying at the group hotel, we will leave in taxi cabs in groups of three or four per cab about 7:40 a.m.

“Big Picture” Regional Economic Development Panel, 8:30 to 10 a.m.

  1. Mike Marshall, Moderator and Speaker, Alternate Federal Cochair, Delta Regional Authority (former Mayor of Sikeston, Missouri)

  2. Josh Tubbs, Marshall County Economic Development Department, western Kentucky

  3. Stephanie Vance, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship rural anti-poverty initiative, Lake Providence, Louisiana

  4. Kevin Smith, long-time Delta regional advocate, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas; former aide to US Sen. Dale Bumpers and then Governor Bill Clinton; former state senator


  1. Larry Williams, CEO, Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi, active across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana

  2. Robert Dansby, CEO, Edgenics Corp., active in expansion of broadband access and community health centers in the Delta region

Dialogue among US Senators and Grassroots Leaders, 10 a.m. to noon

  1. Senator Mark Pryor, Arkansas–10 A.M. 10:15 a.m. (Introduced by Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff, Arkansas)

  2. Congressman John Boozman–10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (invited)

  3. Senator Thad Cochran, Mississippi (introduced by Bill Triplett, Chief of Staff, Delta Regional Authority)–10:30 to 10:45

  4. Senator Mary Landrieu, Louisiana–10:45 to 11 a.m.

  5. Senator Claire McCaskill, Missouri– 11 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

  6. Chancellor Rita Cheng, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois–11:15 a.m. to 11:30

  7. Dr. James Stapleton, Executive Director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri–11:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

  8. Larry Peterson, President, Shawnee Community College, southern Illinois–11:40 a.m. to 11:47 a.m.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN–most people take cabs from the Senate down to USDA

USDA SESSION Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 22, 1:15 to 4:30 p.m., USDA headquarters on the Mall, Room 104-A, The Williamsburg Room, USDA Whitten Building

1:15 to 2:10 p.m.–Overview–USDA Programs for Rural, Economically Distressed Regions like the Delta; Civil rights and diversity, aid for limited resource and minority farmers; farmers’ markets

  1. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration Alma Hobbs
  2. Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie Reed (invited)

Delta grassroots leaders

  1. Tamidra Marable, Heifer International’s Program Manager for USA programs, Little Rock, Arkansas–farmers’ markets and nutritious produce

2:10 3:15 p.m.–Hunger and nutrition issues in the Delta

  1. Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton
  2. Food and Nutrition Services Administrator, Julie Paradis

Delta grassroots leaders

  1. Jerome Turner, USDA Delta regional Obesity Prevention Unit speaker, Marvell, Phillips County, Arkansas
  2. Ed Cooney, Executive Director, Congressional Hunger Center

Brief update from Farm Services Agency representative on disaster relief for farmers

3:15 to 4:30 p.m.–Rural Development Issues in the Delta

  1. Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez
  2. David Villano and Jessica Zufolo, Rural Utilities Service–broadband expansion

  3. Joe Belden, National Housing Assistance Council, rural housing issues

  4. Stephen Copley, Arkansas Justice For Our Neighbors; Methodist minister active in outreach for Hispanic population in the Delta

SESSION ON REBUILDING AFTER KATRINA AND THE OIL DISASTER IN THE GULF; RENEWABLE ENERGY Thursday morning, Sept. 23, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., historic sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill near the US Supreme Court, 212 East Capitol

For those staying at the group hotel, we will go in groups of taxi cabs with three or four people per cab, leaving about 7:45 a.m.

8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

8:30 to 8:45 a.m.: Congressman Charlie Melancon, Louisiana; Rep. Melancon represents the Louisiana coast and is at the forefront of rebuilding efforts after Katrina and the oil disaster; if he is in Louisiana that morning he will address the group from there over the audio system

8:45 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.–Washington, DC Leaders Who Worked on the Gulf Coast after Katrina–these speakers will talk briefly about their experiences after Katrina: 8:45 to 8:50– Deacon Katherine Miller-Holland, Director, Church and Community Ministries, Coordinator, Lutheran Disaster Response, LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES, of the National Capital Area, Washington, DC (Ms. Holland helped evacuees from Katrina who moved to the Washington, DC area) 8:50 to 8:55–Rev. Tom Knoll, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Washington, DC (Rev. Knoll worked in helping victims of Katrina on the Mississippi coast) 8:55 to 9 a.m.Rev. Greg Wolfe,, Pastor, Seven Locks Baptist Church, Potomac, Maryland (Rev. Wolfe worked in helping Katrina survivors in New Orleans after Katrina) 9 a.m. to 9:05 a.m.–Robert Haslach, Katrina Response Mission Group Coordinator, St. Columba’s Episcopalian Church; lay preacher, Diocese of New Orleans. 9:10 to 9:25–Congressman Joseph Cao, Louisiana (New Orleans)

9:25 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.–Louisiana Leaders in Rebuilding after Katrina and the Oil Disaster:

  1. Children’s Defense Fund Director for Louisiana based in New Orleans–Mary Joseph;

  2. Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy Corp., Director of Corporate Social Responsibiliy, New Orleans, Louisiana

  3. Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response Director, Jessica Vermilyea, New Orleans;

  4. Rev. Dwight Webster, survivor of Hurricane Katrina, senior pastor at Christian Unity Baptist Church, a large, predominantly African American church in central New Orleans; Rev. Webster will be joined by his son, Touissant Webster, American University graduate student from New Orleans–a young leader who plans to return to New Orleans after graduation;

Disaster Relief, Health Care and other Issues in Long-Term Rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina and the Oil Disaster, 10:45 a.m. to 12:15

  1. Kay Goss, nationally recognized disaster relief expert and former Associate Director of FEMA in the Clinton administration;
  2. Congressman Marion Berry, Arkansas;
  3. Natalie Jayroe, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of New Orleans and Acadiana, Louisiana
  4. James Lee Witt & Associates (James Lee Witt was FEMA Director in the Clinton administration), either James Lee Witt or one of his senior associates;
  5. Darryl Willis, Vice President for Resources, BP corporation, Louisiana 11 a.m.– 6. Thomas Oppel, senior assistant to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, President Obama’s chief of the Gulf Economic Recovery Plan; Mr. Oppel is Secretary Mabus’ chief assistant in charge of the Gulf Coast recovery, formerly was an aide in Mississippi when Ray Mabus was Governor of Mississippi;
  6. James Miller, Managing Director, Community Health House Network, (James Miller has held extensive meetings in Louisiana with local leaders about the Health Houses as a solution to long-term health issues caused by the oil disaster.

Some speakers may be moved to the luncheon time slot, depending on how the timing develops.


  1. Dr. Aaron Shirley, medical doctor and civil rights movement pioneer, nonprofit Jackson Medical Mall Foundation in Mississippi, leader of the innovative Community Health House Network initiative that is being organized to deal with the health care problems generated by the oil disaster and its economic devastation for Louisiana;
  2. Ken Smith, Kenneth L. Smith Consulting, Former Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Clinton administration, renewable energy expert;
  3. Under Secretary of Energy Kristina Johnson, (Invited), or Gil Sperling, senior adviser, Department of Energy, speaking about renewable energy policy
  4. Former Congressman Bill Alexander, Arkansas, renewable energy advocate, Alexander & Associates;
  5. Representative from DC Central Kitchen to speak about their work helping people in New Orleans and elsewhere. Appreciation for Sponsors


The Delta Grassroots Caucus would like to thank the following sponsors for making possible our work in promoting economic progress for the Greater Delta Region:


Southeast Missouri Delta Grassroots Partners

Southeast Arkansas Delta Grassroots Partners

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas


Entergy National Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

McGehee Industrial Foundation


Southern Illinois University

Murray State University, western Kentucky

Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, East Prairie, Missouri

Great River Economic Development Foundation and City of Blytheville, Arkansas

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy

Edgenics Corp. (a national company working to promote broadband access in the Delta)

Dumas, Arkansas Chamber of commerce

The City of Sikeston, Missouri

American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

Delta Citizens Alliance, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas

Helena National Bank

McGehee Housing Authority

Heifer International

Boys, Girls and Adults Community Development Center, Phillips County, Arkansas

The City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas

DELTA GRASSROOTS CAUCUS PARTNERS Last but not least, we would like to thank the literally hundreds of people who made smaller contributions in the range of $50, $85 and $100 in the form of membership fees, registration fees and other contributions. For a grassroots regional coalition, we need to have a diversified, broad base of financial support from large numbers of relatively small contributions. The large number of these contributions really adds up to a major part of our budget, and we could not do our work without these donations.