Russellville Regional Leadership Academy



The Challenge

Leaders are not born; they are developed through learning and experience. Unfortunately, many people do not realize this and take for granted the future of our area by assuming that leadership talent will naturally emerge when needed. The Russellville Regional Leadership Academy (RRLA) serves as the premier training ground for our future leaders. The key to the River Valley’s future lies in having knowledgeable and skilled leaders who understand all facets of our community, including government, business, education, recreation, utilities, infrastructure, housing, healthcare, social services, and more.

The Purpose

Russellville Regional Leadership Academy aims to develop a network of competent leaders to meet present and future community needs. To achieve this goal, RRLA seeks to:

  • Identify and motivate individuals with leadership potential.
  • Acquaint them with community needs, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Offer a forum for exchanging methods to address community issues.
  • Challenge potential leaders to become involved with local issues and the decision-making process.

Accomplishing Our Objectives

The Russellville Regional Leadership Academy develops community leaders by training and informing participants on a wide array of local public policy issues and concerns. In-depth training sessions focus on these issues, exploring their background, origin, and present-day status. The program covers a comprehensive slate of topics including government, the area’s economy, education, social services, and much more. The sessions combine lectures, tours, dialogue, and interaction between speakers and participants.


The curriculum may vary slightly from year to year, but a typical year’s sessions are as follows:

  • Class Luncheon
  • Orientation/Retreat
  • Federal/County Government
  • Economic Development
  • Annual Meeting for Chamber and Alliance
  • Health and Wellness
  • City Government
  • Education
  • State Government
  • Emergency Services
  • Tourism & Hospitality
  • Graduation

Criteria for Selection

Candidates for the Russellville Regional Leadership Academy must demonstrate:

  • A strong professed interest and commitment to serve the River Valley area beyond the training period.
  • Willingness to devote time to RRLA in terms of attendance and field projects during the program.
  • An occupational commitment to remain in the Russellville Region or little likelihood of transfer in the immediate future.
  • Community and/or civic service leadership as evidenced by the breadth and level of involvement in non-employment-related volunteer activities within the River Valley Region, or a demonstration of interest in becoming more involved.
  • Leadership skills and abilities on the job.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and a proactive approach to issues of community concern.
  • The ability to make a substantive contribution to the program, both in terms of issues and projects, as well as networking with peers.
  • Financial and time commitment of the applicant’s employer or sponsoring organization for the applicant to participate in RRLA.
  • Commitment to RRLA (simultaneous or concurrent participation in other local, regional, or state leadership programs is not allowed).
  • Residence or employment in the River Valley for a minimum of one year.


Russellville Regional Leadership Academy has been a program of the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce since 1986. Since its inception, RRLA has had over 600 graduates, many of whom have become prominent leaders in the River Valley.

Participant Selection

An anonymous selection committee will carefully choose a class that represents a cross-section of the community and reflects its diversity with balanced gender, race, socio-economic, and geographic representation that closely parallels the demographics of the area. Participants will be active in business, education, the arts, government, nonprofit, and community-based organizations.


The tuition fee for each participant selected is $650, payable in full prior to the class announcement.

Time Commitment

The RRLA program consists of ten full-day sessions plus an out-of-town retreat. Sessions are usually held on the third Thursday each month from October through May. A complete calendar will be provided to each participant prior to their acceptance. Attendance at the retreat prior to the first session is required. Some sessions will be conducted by class members and will require planning time beyond scheduled class time. Additional projects may be assigned. Program participants are expected to attend each monthly session. While emergencies do arise, any participant missing more than sixteen (16) hours of scheduled events will be automatically dropped from the program, and no portion of the tuition will be refunded. Upon missing eight (8) hours, the participant will be reminded of their attendance status. Upon missing twelve (12) hours, the participant’s employer will be notified of the attendance status.

Alumni Association

Upon completing the RRLA program, participants will automatically become members of the organization’s alumni association.

Application Instructions

Type or print in black ink. Please complete each section fully. Limit answers to the space available. The application must be signed by both the applicant and employer/sponsor and returned to the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce. The application should contain a recent, high-quality color headshot in a digital format. The photo may accompany the application or may be sent separately by email. Two letters of recommendation are required—one from an employer or co-worker and one from a community source who can speak to the applicant’s ability to meet selection criteria. Letters may accompany the application or be sent separately to:

Angela Bonds, Russellville Regional Leadership Academy, 708 West Main, Russellville, AR 72801 or Applications and reference letters are the property of the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce and will remain confidential. If you have any questions, please contact Angela Bonds at 479-968-2530.

2024 Leadership Application Class 39.pdf