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Presidents LaForge and Keenum announce Local Government Leadership program

By June 27, 2018Community, President

In conjunction with Delta State University’s fifth annual Delta Mayors’ Summit on June 19, Delta State President William N. LaForge and Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark E. Keenum hosted a press conference to announce a partnership between the two universities to benefit local government leaders.

The new program, termed the Local Government Leadership Institute, assists and supports local officials of the Mississippi Delta in addressing governance challenges by providing activities, basic training, and helpful tools to assist them in running their municipalities effectively and efficiently.

Since November 2017, the Local Government Leadership Institute, in partnership with the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State and the Mississippi Municipal League, has provided training for more than 130 elected leaders across the Delta. These leaders represent nearly 35 Delta cities and towns. Through the Leadership Institute, participants have collectively earned more than 225 Certified Municipal Officer elective hours offered by the Mississippi Municipal League.

“Delta State is very pleased to partner with Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Municipal League to provide this unique training experience for local government officials,” said LaForge. “The university’s vision for, collaboration with, and improvement of, our Delta communities is well served by this dynamic program.”

“I am very grateful to MSU President Keenum and the MML leadership for joining with us in an enterprise we believe can be transformational,” added LaForge.

Keenum echoed LaForge’s praise for the program.

“Mississippi State University and the Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development are very pleased to partner with Delta State University and the Mississippi Municipal League to deliver education and training opportunities through the Local Government Leadership Institute,” said Keenum. “The Stennis Institute is an exceptional example of Mississippi State’s commitment to making a difference in the many diverse communities it serves throughout the state.”

LGLI seeks to cultivate more knowledgeable, skilled, and effective municipal leaders and managers; improve local government services and environment for business, education and citizens; enhance community relations; increase public trust in local government; advance public civility and racial harmony; and, improve the community’s economy and quality of life.

The program is under the direction of Dr. Temika Simmons at Delta State University.

“We believe that well-managed local governments are important not only to the citizens they serve, but to the businesses, industries and other institutions that are located in those communities,” said Simmons. “The leadership, management and infrastructure provided by local governments are key elements in a community’s delivery of services and quality of life efforts. As a civic and institutional partner, Delta State University is committed to providing the support needed by our local elected leaders as they continue their work to strengthen and grow the Mississippi Delta jewel that we call home.

Simmons reiterated that the program is made possible by generous support from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and the collaborative relationship with partners at the John C. Stennis Institute at Mississippi State and the Mississippi Municipal League.

Delta counties served by LGLI include: Bolivar, Coahoma, Sunflower, Washington, Issaquena, Sharkey, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Leflore, Humphreys, Yazoo, Warren, Desoto, Tate, Tunica, Panola, Carroll, and Holmes.

“Our reach has extended beyond the initial counties targeted in the first year cohort,” said Simmons. “We have seen participation from elected leaders statewide and continue to see interest and growth at each training session. Our services include monthly trainings, opportunities for collaboration, and access to municipal resources.”

Dr. Dallas Breen, executive director of the Stennis Institute, is looking forward to improved education and training opportunities as a result of the institute.

“Working collaboratively, Mississippi State and DSU, along with partners like MML and others, are leading the way to greater educational attainment and economic opportunity for all Mississippians through innovative programs like the Local Government Leadership Institute,” said Breen.

MML Deputy Director Robbie Brown is also thrilled by the institute’s impact.

“The Mississippi Municipal League is always striving to provide our member municipal officials with education and training that will help them be better leaders and improve their community,” said Brown. “When Dr. Temika Simmons approached us about partnering with the Local Government Leadership Institute to provide training to municipal officials in the Delta, we were thrilled to be a part of this opportunity. A lot of small towns have very limited funds for traveling to conferences and education opportunities. By holding this training at Delta State, LGLI is providing a need to those municipal officials in the Delta area without stretching their funds. MML looks forward to continuing our partnership with LGLI in providing education and training to municipal officials in the Delta and around the state.”

For more information on the Local Government Leadership Institute, visit or contact Simmons at 662-846-4254.