Courtesy Photo | Pictured: Class Director Reese Broadnax with SW AR Planning and Development District, Mrs. Whitelaw, Lisa Johnson, President BCC & Class Director Kevin Sexton with Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

CONWAY, Ark. –  Lisa Johnson, President/CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, was among the 30 individuals who were awarded graduation certificates during the 30th annual Community Development Institute – Central (CDI) at the University of Central Arkansas on August 5, 2016. Johnson completed all three years of the institute’s program of study and is now qualified to sit for the Professional Community and Economic Developer exam. Johnson received a scholarship from AEP SWEPCO to attend the third year program.

At the graduation ceremony, Johnson was selected by her peers to receive the “Ernest L. Whitelaw Award” for exemplifying the following points: Dedication to professional community development practice and proven involvement in the CDI educational experience; demonstrated by enthusiastic individual and group class participation, willingness to assume leadership roles and regular class attendance and a spirit of caring and inclusion shown by a willingness to assist, enable and involve fellow students in the CDI experience and strong personal integrity.

Lisa Johnson, Bossier Chamber of Commerce President/CEO
Lisa Johnson, Bossier Chamber of Commerce President/CEO

CDI trains community leaders and economic development professionals on how to strengthen their local economies and build communities. This is achieved by developing the ability of participants to identify community assets, set goals, encourage collaboration and partnerships with stakeholders, and bring communities, organizations and businesses together to respond to a broad range of economic and quality of life issues.


The complete institute experience is a three-year program, with one week of training per year. Participants move through the program curriculum in cohorts, and are exposed to a comprehensive, applied approach to the field of community and economic development.

UCA is the birthplace for the Community Development Institute, which started in 1987 in partnership with Entergy, Southwestern Bell, and ARKLA.  Since that time, CDIs have been established in Texas, Alabama, Idaho and Illinois, and a national governing and certification body, the Community Development Council, has been created. 


More information about CDI can be found at

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