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.

Agenda: Opening Starts at 4:30 Oct. 30 Thursday with Sens. Pryor & Boozman

Posted on October 23, 2014 at 01:56 PM

US Sen. Mark Pryor speaks at the Thursday, Oct. 30 opening session of the Delta Caucus at 5 p.m. followed by US Sen. John Boozman at 5:30 p.m. The opening session is very important and starts promptly at 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon we will have First District Candidate Mayor Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs, –US Senate candidate Rep. Travis Childers from Mississippi, –The Hon. Rodney Slater, President Clinton’s US Secretary of Transportation, –President Clinton’s FEMA Associate Director Kay Goss –and Lynnette Watts of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas,

–then governor candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson from 11 a.m. to noon, –Congressman Rick Crawford of the First District at the luncheon from noon to 1 p.m., –and Arkansas Hospital Association CEO Bo Ryall speaking on the private option and Anna Strong of Arkansas Children’s Hospital as the two other luncheon speakers.

The Friday session as a whole is 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

US Senate candidate for Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers will speak and US Sen. Thad Cochran is invited.

Draft of the agenda, registration, RSVP, group hotels information and directions to Beth El Heritage Hall in Helena are below in this email.

PLEASE RSVP NOW: To RSVP to reserve space for the Oct. 30-31 Delta Grassroots Caucus conference in Helena-West Helena, AR, send your name and contact information to Lee Powell at or call (202) 360-6347. You need to RSVP to be assured of a space at the conference. We have 125 RSVPs right now and there is always a late surge in RSVPS in the last few days before a regional conference.

You register by paying the registration fees. For local group discounts, fees are $75.


THURSDAY, OCT. 30 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Beth El Heritage Hall, 406 Perry St., Helena, AR 72342

Friday, Oct. 31 from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

For people who are part of a local group discount, the registration fees are $75.

For those who learned about this conference late in the process, we will not ask for the higher late registration fees at $115 and will accept $75.

For those who knew about the early registration deadline of Oct. 21 that is now past but did not observe the deadline, we will ask for the higher fees of $115 in order to create an incentive to get the fees in on time.

We prefer for registration fees to be sent in ahead of time, but we can also accept them at the front desk at the conference.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

A rough draft of the agenda is below in the extended section of this post.

In a small number of cases where people cannot attend both days of the conference, we will accept a minimum registration fee of $30 for one day. We would greatly prefer that people come to both days.

We have confirmed additional distinguished speakers for this conference:

-the Hon. Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation for President Clinton and now a partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, DC;

-Bob Nash, senior White House aide to President Clinton and now president of Bob J. Nash & Associates;

–Bo Ryall, CEO of Arkansas Hospital Association to discuss the private option health care plan;

-Anna Strong, Executive Director of Child Advocacy and Public Health for Arkansas Children’s Hospital; and

-Executive Director Lynnette Watts of the Women’s Foundation for Arkansas, which is working with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on research to inform the public about where we have made progress on women’s issues, where we still have a ways to go-knowing the facts is essential in devising actions in addressing full civic, political and economic participation for women and girls across our region.

Key issues will include job creation/retention, the private option health care plan and other health care issues, USDA nutrition, rural development and agriculture programs, transportation improvements including Interstate 69, women and children’s issues and their impact on regional community and economic development, broadband expansion, the Delta Queen bill and other Delta heritage tourism initiatives, and other regional issues.

We will have a dialogue with the major candidates for US Senate, US House and Governor and include grassroots leaders from all eight states of the Greater Delta Region.


HOTELS: Please make your hotel reservations ASAP, because this conference takes place at Halloween and that is a very busy time for the hotels. If you wait closer to Halloween they may be full up when you call.

The two best hotels in Helena-West Helena are the following:

Best Western Inn: Please call the hotel at (870) 572-2592 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group. The rates range from about $89 to $94 plus tax, depending on the size room you request for the nights of Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Many people just stay the one night of Oct. 30.

THE EDWARDIAN INN: This is an elegant bed and breakfast in Helena-West Helena, set in a stately home built by a wealthy Helena cotton trader in 1904. Please call the Edwardian Inn at (870) 338-9155 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the lower rate of $83 for Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Many people will just stay the one night of Oct. 30. We have a bloc of 10 rooms.

Please reserve your room at the Edwardian Inn as soon as possible, because the closer it gets to Halloween the greater likelihood may be that they will be full up.


  1. DIRECTIONS TO HISTORIC BETH EL HERITAGE HALL IN HELENA-WEST HELENA (there are only two roads to enter Helena)





The address for Beth El is: 406 Perry St, Helena, AR 72342.

Here are directions to Beth El from both main entrances into town:

Directions from Little Rock

  • Take I-40 E
  • Take exit 216 for US 49/AR 17
  • US 49 S
  • As you enter into town, turn right onto US 49 S bypass
  • Continue straight, the street will change names to Biscoe and then Columbia
  • Turn right onto Perry St.
  • After a few blocks, Beth El Heritage Hall will be on your left

Directions from Memphis

  • Take US 61 S
  • Turn right onto US 49 N
  • Turn right onto Biscoe, which will change to Columbia
  • Turn right onto Perry St.
  • After a few blocks, Beth El Heritage Hall will be on your left

2. Draft of Agenda

Delta Grassroots Caucus Regional Conference

“Jobs, Infrastructure, and Women and Children’s Issues”

October 30-31, 2014, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

Beth El Heritage Hall


  1. City of Helena-West Helena–attractions of the area and visitors guide, Delta Cultural Center and Helena-West Helena Advertising & Promotion and Commission

  2. Marlon Henderson, CEO of Sharemeister, a new company that exists to promote innovative ways of generating contributions to nonprofits and other good causes in the Greater Delta Region

  3. Chris Crawley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, one of the South’s most famous independent bookstores; the bookstore where John Grisham got his start when he was a relatively unknown young author

  4. Women’s Foundation of Arkansas–vital research on a broad range of women’s issues in our region

  5. Murray State University, innovative broadband access program in western Kentucky

  6. Harahan Bridge Project, Memphis, Tennessee to West Memphis, Arkansas, Greg Maxted, Executive Director

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, US Senator Mark Pryor 5:00 pm to 5:30pm

4:30. p.m.–Introduction, 1. Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus

Suggestion regarding donations for the nonprofit Delta Cultural Center

Opening Speakers, 4:45 to 6:15 p.m.

Kay Goss, FEMA Associate Director for President Bill Clinton, nationally recognized disaster relief services expert, author, Mr. Chairman: The Life and Legacy of Wilbur Mills

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.–US Sen. Mark Pryor

5:30 to 5:50 p.m. US Senator John Boozman

5:45 to 5:55 p.m.– Vanessa Sneed, Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Carbondale, Illinois

5:55 to 6:05 p.m.– Millie Atkins, Century Link, Public Policy Manager, broadband expansion program for Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi; based in Monroe, Louisiana

6:05 to 6:15 p.m.– Mollie Palmer, Director, Together for Hope project of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

6:15 to 6:25 p.m.–

David Solomon, distinguished attorney and community leader in Helena-West Helena, speaking about the great legacy of the Jewish contributions to the Delta’s history, as a member of the historic synagogue where we will meet, now Beth El Heritage Hall

6:25 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.

Robert Culler, Executive Vice President, First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri; on programs for reducing teenage pregnancy and high school dropouts, improving housing opportunities

Brief follow-up to Robert Culler's presentation--"big picture" commentary from Martha Ellen Black, executive director, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri, on race relations in Missouri in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri crisis

6:35 to 7:45 p.m.–Closing speakers

Justin Burch, Foundation for the Mid-South

Albert Nylander, Director, University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement

Scott Shirey, Executive Director, KIPP Delta Public Schools

State Rep. John Edwards, Helena port authority and state legislator

FRIDAY, Oct. 31, 2014 from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

8:15 a.m. to 10–“Big picture” panel on regional community and economic development

  1. Karama Neal, Speaker and Moderator, Southern Bancorp Community Partners

  2. Charita Johnson Burgess, nonprofit Shiloh Distribution Center, Lexington, Tennessee

  3. George Miles, Rural LISC, Greenville, Mississippi

  4. Henry Snorton, Minority Economic Development Initiative (MEDI) in western Kentucky

  5. Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, Mississippi

Friday morning, TBD–Rep. Travis Childers, Democratic nominee for US Senate, Mississippi

10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.–Mayor Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs, First Congressional District Democratic nominee

10:20 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.–The Hon. Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation for President Bill Clinton, now partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, DC

10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.–Women and Children’s Issues

Kay Goss, President Clinton’s former FEMA Associate Director, educator, author, nationally recognized disaster relief services expert

Will Staley, Co-Founder, Thrive nonprofit organization based in Helena-West Helena

Lynnette Watts, Executive Director, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas

11 a.m. to noon–Candidates for Governor–order of speaking to be determined by a coin toss

Mike Ross, Democratic nominee for governor, introduced by Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena, Delta Caucus Senior Adviser

Asa Hutchinson, Republican nominee for governor, introduced by Mayor Arnell Willis


  1. Bo Ryall, CEO, Arkansas Hospital Association

  2. Anna Strong, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Executive Director, Child Advocacy and Public Health

3. Congressman Rick Crawford, First District of Arkansas

1:20 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.–Best Practices and Role Models for Community and Economic Development in the Greater Delta Region

  1. Bob Nash, moderator, Director of White House Presidential Personnel for President Clinton, former USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, president Bob J. Nash & Associates

  2. Calvin King, Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation

  3. Mildred Barnes Griggs, Arkansas Delta Seeds of Change

  4. Matthew Pelkki, University of Arkansas at Monticello

  5. Rhonda St. Columbia, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas

Sponsors for the Delta Grassroots Caucus

Sponsors for the Delta Grassroots Caucus

Beth El Heritage Hall, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

October 30-31, 2014


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

City of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas


Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

Heifer International Seeds of Change Initiative


Southern Bancorp

Mississippi County AR Economic Opportunity Commission

McGehee Industrial Foundation

Kay Goss, Author: Mr. Chairman: The Life and Legacy of Wilbur D. Mills; and Chair, University of Arkansas J. William Fulbright College Fundraising Campaign for 2020

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

The City of Sikeston, Missouri

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

Rep. Mark McElroy

Lincoln County Industrial Development Foundation


Last but not least, we would like to thank the literally hundreds of grassroots partners across the eight states, the Washington, DC area and elsewhere who made small to medium-sized contributions in the form of annual membership dues and/or registration fees for $150, $125, $100, $50 and $25.

For a grassroots regional coalition, it is important to have a diversified funding base of large numbers of modest contributions. They add up to a large amount and we could not do our work without these contributions from so many supporters across the Greater Delta Region and beyond.


-job creation/retention,

-health care for underserved populations including Arkansas’ innovative private option,

-transportation improvements including progress on Interstate 69,

-the farm bill’s implementation and USDA nutrition, rural development and agriculture programs,

-women’s issues such as equal pay for equal work and greater opportunities for women in business, elected office and nonprofits in the Delta,

-education and worforce development,

-broadband expansion,

-Delta heritage tourism including support for the Delta Queen bill to allow that historic steamboat to again travel on the Mississippi, and other regional community and economic development issues.

We cover a broad range of issues, but we do want to give some special attention to women and children’s issues this year. Our attention to women and children’s issues is due to the alarmingly high poverty rates of women and children in our region. We want to include women in the economic contribution they make in the region, including women involved in farming, small business, etc.

In general, due to the alarmingly high poverty rates for those two sections of the population in our region, and we are also collaborating with the Clinton Foundation on Hillary Clinton’s No Ceilings initiative for full economic and political participation of women and girls. We know that there are plenty of men who are hurting in our region, too, but the statistics are even worse for women and children, especially single mothers heading households and children.

In addition to the women who are heads of households, many households have two wage-earners nowadays, so increasing the economic contributions of women helps everybody.

The location is the beautiful, historic former synagogue in Helena-West Helena now called Beth El Heritage Hall.