JONESBORO – Providing resources for women has been a priority of Arkansas State University for many years. The development of the Women’s Business Leadership Center in 2016 has helped many students and professional women better themselves in current and future endeavors.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2021, women make up 47% of the workforce.
Now, a newly developed opportunity, the Arkansas Delta Women’s Leadership Academy (ADWLA), is accepting applications for its first program.
Andrea Allen, executive director of the Delta Center for Economic Development, said this academy developed after a conversation with Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, who is the dean of the Graduate School at A-State. “We spoke about the need for a program focused specifically on the needs of female leaders in the Arkansas Delta,” said Allen.
“To date, there is no leadership academy that focuses specifically on the needs of women leaders in this area, and one of the recommendations of the Arkansas Women’s Commission was to increase mentorship opportunities for women,” said Jones-Branch, who served on the commission.
This academy is designed to help develop a pipeline of talented women. According to Allen, the benefit of gender diversity in leadership of a business and community is vast.
“When more women are empowered to lead, everyone benefits. Decades of studies show women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, inspire organizational dedication and improve fairness,” she continued.
By creating a network of women across the region, the hope is that resources and best practices can be shared to improve success for all.
“The academy will provide women with professional training and resources needed to excel and advance their careers as leaders in healthcare, business, non-profits, education and government,” Allen added.
Women 21 and older who live in one of the 42 counties that make up the Arkansas Delta are eligible for this free course provided through a grant from former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Meetings will take place in six communities where women will learn more about the region and build relationships while learning from one another, and from established female leaders in industry and academia.
“Participants will also take a deep dive into how they interact in terms of their personality styles and learn more in the following areas: goal setting and strategic planning, self-care and stress management, cultural competence, influence and negotiations, mentorship, communications and confidence, enabling them to better communicate, negotiate, and lead with confidence,” continued Allen.
Selections will be based on applications, resumes and reference letters. Classes will take place in Jonesboro, El Dorado, Mountain Home, West Memphis, Pine Bluff and Little Rock.
Allen said she hopes this effort leads to regional collaboration and the creation of a network of women leaders connected to opportunities statewide.
“Ultimately, it is our goal to increase the number and visibility of female leaders in the Arkansas Delta region,” said Allen, adding high-performing female leaders are encouraged to apply for this inaugural class.
To see a list of counties included and to apply, one may visit ADWLA online for full details.