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.

Speaking Times for Candidates, Directions to Delta Event, Oct. 30-31

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Sen. Mark Pryor, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Ross, Rep. Rick Crawford, 1st District Congressional candidate Jackie McPherson, Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Travis Childers of Mississippi as well as grassroots leaders are set for the Oct. 30-31 Delta Caucus conference in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas.

The conference speakers start promptly at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, so we encourage people to arrive at 4:20 p.m. at Beth El Heritage Hall, 406 Perry Street, Helena, AR 72342. Sen. Mark Pryor speaks early on at 5 p.m. by Skype, and then Sen. John Boozman speaks at 5:30 p.m.

Sen. Pryor also wanted to be sure and be able to visit with us in person, so he will also come by and say a few words and visit in Helena at Beth El Heritage Hall at 2:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31.

FRIDAY SESSION INCLUDES MAJOR CANDIDATES: The Friday session includes in-person presentations from mid-morning through the lunch and early afternoon from 1st District Democratic candidate Jackie McPherson, the Hon. Rodney Slater, President Clinton’s Secretary of Transportation, Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, Congressman Rick Crawford at lunch, Sen. Mark Pryor in person at 2:15 p.m., and live call-ins by the two US Senate race nominees in Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Travis Childers.








The address for Beth El Heritage Hall 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


Most attendees have already mailed in their registration fee checks.

For those who have not yet paid the registration fees, please give your registration fees checks to the front desk. Please make out the checks to “Delta Caucus.”

Registration fee levels are:

For those in local group discounts or for people who found out late about the conference and did not know about the early registration deadline that passed in mid-October: $75

For individuals who plan to attend both days of the conference and knew about the early registration deadline but did not observe it, we ask for higher late registration fees to create an incentive to get the fees in on time: $115

For people in the local area who can only come to part of one day due to work or other scheduling commitments: $30

3. Notes on other sections of the agenda:

The opening features many other distinguished speakers including Kay Goss, author, educator, disaster relief services expert, President Clinton’s Associate Director of FEMA, Millie Atkins of Century Link’s innovative program for expanding broadband access in the Delta, David Solomon, distinguished attorney and leader in the Delta for many years, and others.

On Friday we have a morning panel led by Karama Neal of Southern Bancorp, with Charita Johnson of the Shiloh Distribution Center in Tennessee, George Miles of Rural LISC based in Greenville, MS, and Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarskdale, MS.

We have another section on women and children’s issues on Friday morning including Kay Goss, Lynnette Watts, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, and Will Staley of the innovative new nonprofit Thrive based in Helena.

Luncheon speakers include CEO Bo Ryall of the Arkansas Hospital Association and Anna Strong, Executive Director of Child Advocacy and Public Health at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Bob Nash, senior White House aide and earlier USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development for President Clinton, now president of Bob J. Nash & Associates, will lead a panel including Calvin King of Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corp., Mildred Barnes Griggs of Arkansas Delta Seeds of Change, Matthew Pelkki of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and Rhonda St. Columbia, Vice Chancellor for College Advancement, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas.

4. Delta Grassroots Caucus Agenda

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

Beth El Heritage Hall, Oct. 30-31, 2014, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas


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

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

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

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

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

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

Suggestion regarding donations for the 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

Mollie Palmer, Director, Together for Hope project of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

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

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

5:55 to 6:05 p.m.-Vanessa Sneed, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois

6:05 to 6:15 p.m.–Millie Atkins, Century Link, Public Policy Manager, broadband expansion program for Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi; based in Monroe, Louisiana

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

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

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.

8:25 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.–“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. Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, Mississippi

9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.–Rep. Travis Childers, Democratic nominee for US Senate, Mississippi

9:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.–Lee Powell, Caucus Director, and Kevin Smith, Helena businessman and Delta Caucus senior adviser–Commentary on the Importance of Having an Ongoing Dialogue with Elected Leaders

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

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 of Helena-West Helena


Noon to 12:12–Bo Ryall, CEO, Arkansas Hospital Association

12;12-12:25–Anna Strong, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Executive Director, Child Advocacy and Public Health

12:30-12:38: US Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi

12:38 to 1 p.m.: Congressman Rick Crawford, First District of Arkansas

1 p.m. to 2:30 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: 15 p.m.–US Sen. Mark Pryor in person

  1. Calvin King, Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation

  2. Mildred Barnes Griggs, Arkansas Delta Seeds of Change

  3. Matthew Pelkki, University of Arkansas at Monticello

  4. Rhonda St. Columbia, Vice Chancellor for College Advancement, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas

5. 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


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.