Management Entity Staff

The mission of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University  is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center is the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, serving as its administrative staff.

Dr. Rolando Herts  ( )
Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning

Dr. Herts is a native of the Arkansas Delta region. As director of The Delta Center, he serves as executive director of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, a Congressionally designated partnership with the National Park Service. As a 2016 Executive Academy Fellow with the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute, he was awarded an executive education certificate from the 2017 Authentic Leadership for the 21st Century Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Herts serves on the Alliance of National Heritage Areas governing board, the Mississippi Blues Commission, and the Mississippi Historical Society Board of Directors. He also recently received a gubernatorial appointment to the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Services.

Previously, Dr. Herts served as Associate Director with the Office of University-Community Partnerships at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. As a Leadership Newark Fellow, he received the Berkowitz Distinguished Service Award for his commitment to the Greater Newark community. He also is an alumnus of the Teach For America Mississippi Delta corps and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium's Emerging Engagement Scholar Program.

Dr. Herts holds a Ph.D. in planning and public policy from Rutgers Graduate School-New Brunswick. He also holds a M.A. in Social Science from The University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from Morehouse College. His interest areas include university-community engagement and partnership development, community-based tourism planning, place branding/marketing, and regional development.

Lee Aylward ( )
Program Associate for Education and Community Outreach

Lee Aylward is a transplant from the hills of Mississippi to the Delta.  Education and learning were instilled in her early, and she tried almost all of the universities in Mississippi and the University of Alabama in order to further that education.  Reading has always been paramount to her. It is this love of reading that prompted her to get both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Library Science, and she went on to get certification in Reading.  Since graduating from college, she has been a mother, administrator of a U.S. Army education center, a public librarian, a school librarian, reading teacher, real estate agent, and finally an associate in the Delta Center for Culture and Learning where she coordinates community outreach and education.


Shelia winters( )
Program AsSOCIATE for Projects

Shelia was born and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town she still calls home. After receiving her AA from Coahoma Community College, she began working for the school before eventually receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Leadership  from Lemoyne Owen College. In 2008 she returned to Delta State University where she completed a Master's in Business Administration.

While employed at Coahoma, she worked in a variety of roles, eventually retiring after twenty-eight years as the Grant Accountant for Institution Advancement and Federal Programs. She then went on to work for the Delta Regional Authority as their finance administrator for two years, followed by a position at Merit Health Northwest Mississippi Medical Center as an HIM Analyst. In 2017, she joined the team at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

Shelia is the proud grandmother of two beautiful children, who live with their father (Shelia's son) and mother in Alabama.


Sarah Hicks (shicks@deltastate.eduProgram Manager, MDNHA

Sarah comes to us with a background in project management, website development, civic revitalization, and cultural research.  She has been a heritage tourist to the Delta for several years, and moved to Cleveland "for the ducks and the characters" in Summer 2017.

She once practiced architecture in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where she served as a Community Redevelopment Authority board member. She holds architectural bachelor's and masters degrees from Georgia Tech and Florida A&M, and was able to study art history and cultural appreciation in Italy. She was awarded the Henry Adams AIA medal for teaching while in graduate school. She pivoted to the digital in 2010, and earned a second masters in information systems from University of Alabama in Huntsville, while working in app and website development and usability research, and managing branding for a large international corporation.