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.

Organizational Structure

The Delta Grassroots Caucus traces its roots in the mid-1990s to three major bipartisan initiatives dedicated to promoting economic development in the eight-state Delta region. First, the Mississippi Delta Regional Initiative and the national New Markets Initiative of the Clinton administration, which included all federal departments and agencies with domestic policy jurisdiction. Secondly, two grassroots coalitions of local leaders: one called the Delta Caucus that was founded in the mid-1990s, and another called the Southern EZ/EC Forum, including all Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities in the Delta region.

The Delta Caucus is one of the founding partners of the Economic Equality Coalition, which promotes economic, racial and gender equality, health care, education and diversity. This is a national economic advocacy organization organization with partners from New York, the Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland Mid-Atlantic region, Appalachia, the Midwest, Georgia, the Delta and Alabama Black Belt, Southwest Border, Native Americans, and inner cities in Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, DC, and elsewhere.

The bipartisan Clinton administration Delta initiative and the grassroots coalitions worked with each other and all other relevant institutions in the Delta, culminating in such milestones as President Clinton’s passages in his State of the Union address in 2000 calling for greater funding to promote the region’s development, the comprehensive Clinton administration report on the Delta published in 2000 (Delta Vision, Delta Voices: The Mississippi Delta Beyond 2000), the White House conference on the Delta in 2000, and Congress’ passage of the legislation creating the Delta Regional Authority, signed into law by President Clinton in late 2000. Since then, the networks of individuals involved in those two organizations have continued working in a bipartisan fashion with Congress and the Bush and Obama administrations, and now plan to do so in the Trump administration.

The Grassroots Caucus welcomes support from people of all persuasions and political parties who want to promote economic development in the Delta, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, parts of Alabama, west Tennessee, west Kentucky, southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.

The great majority of our work is educational/informational and NOT lobbying.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus is funded by private sector voluntary donations and is not affiliated with any governmental agency.

The only government funding over the years has been for a very small percentage of the overall budget for such matters as paying registration fees for government employees or other costs at conferences (all attendees have costs for food, meeting space, and other costs of each person who is there). During occasions such as the severe flooding in 2011 or volunteer work for victims of Hurricane Katrina, we work closely with any and all government officials on the non-partisan work of disseminating information about disaster relief efforts.

The great majority of Delta Grassroots Caucus activities are in the realms of education, communications, dissemination of information about best practices for regional economic development, and general advocacy.

On occasion, we do a certain amount of lobbying on urgent issues regarding the broad interests of the Greater Mississippi Delta region as a whole. We are not “lobbyists” in the usual sense of that word, as they are usually highly paid agents of narrow special interests.

In contrast, our partners are volunteers and a few modestly paid staff who support funding for programs such as SNAP, school meals, WIC and other nutrition programs, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, renewable energy and green jobs, USDA Rural Development and other broad-minded initiatives for the progress of our region.

We are not a direct service 501c3 nonprofit. We are technically incorporated as a small business in order to maximize our freedom of expression. Nonprofits generally have limits on their freedom to address pending legislation or other issues that occasionally might be considered controversial in some quarters. We try to steer a middle-of-the-road, non-ideological and practical approach, but at times we do have to take a stand on key issues. We can’t please everybody all the time so we need to have maximum freedom of expression.

As a grassroots, private sector advocacy organization, our goal is to promote the very good work of nonprofits, small businesses, grassroots leaders and all the other fine organizations working in the Delta.

Executive Committee

  • Lee Powell, Executive Director and President (see brief bio below for Lee Powell) manages the activities of the Grassroots Caucus based on consultations with the board of directors, the advisory executive committee, and regular communications with grassroots leaders across the region and partners in the Washington, DC area; chairman of the board. Here are the executive committee members:
  • Clifton Avant, Board Member Emeritus, Retired after many years of service for Entergy; Recognized as Board Member Emeritus to acknowledge his many years of service to the Delta Caucus; President, AvanTech Services, Marion, Arkansas;
  • Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Public Affairs/Safety Manager, Blytheville, Arkansas;
  • Professor Tamara Glover, Chair/Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, School of Arts & Sciences, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff;
  • Johnnie Bolin, Chairman, Southeast Arkansas Cornerstone Coalition, Crossett, Arkansas;
  • Alan Gumbel, president, Gumbel & Associates, Memphis, Tennessee (played an important role in the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission), advisory committee;
  • Sheila Hann Smith, President of the TS Police Support League, Inc. Eutaw, Alabama;
  • Billy McFarland, Secretary/ Treasurer of the TS Police Support League, Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
  • Wilson Golden, Clinton administration appointee working as one of the managers of the Delta Regional Initiative; board member, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation based in Jackson, Mississippi; Mississippi native now residing in Georgia.

Brief Bio of the Executive Director

Lee Powell, Director of the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus; Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration (1995-2001), where he served as senior adviser to the Delta Regional Initiative on Secretary Rodney Slater’s staff (1999-2000), and Regional Economic Development Adviser to USDA during the earlier Clinton administration; formerly communications director and legislative assistant to IS Rep. Bill Alexander of the First Congressional District in the Arkansas Delta; Federal Judicial Clerkship, 1993-95, on US District Judge Bill Wilson’s staff, Eastern District of Arkansas; graduate degrees from the University of Virginia Law School and Graduate School; Phi Beta Kappa, Rhodes; Author of J. William Fulbright and His Time, a comprehensive biography of Senator Fulbright of Arkansas, foreword by President Bill Clinton (published in 1996); Powell has lived in four of the Delta states in his career (Little Rock and Jonesboro in Arkansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Selma, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee).