What is an influencer? Simply put, it is one who wields influence, no social media account needed. They are the people, be they civil leaders, CEOs, or media personalities, who see something they want to do and have the skills, reputation, and willpower to make sure it gets done. They are the movers and shakers, the leaders who shape the future of our state.
The actions of these influencers have affected every Arkansan. From the basic necessities of life and exploring the outdoors to the governance of the state and the mentorship of the influencers of tomorrow, the impact of these figures will continue to be felt for generations.
Though few people may recognize just how many influencers have played a part in their lives, the readers of Arkansas Money and Politics have chosen to recognize these men and women by nominating them for the work they do. The 2023 Influencers of the Year list was then selected from those nominees by a panel of winners from previous years.
Arkansas Money and Politics is proud to honor this year’s influencers.
| Sam Alley
At the age of 14 and the oldest of five brothers, Sam Alley moved with his family from a small town north of Jerusalem to Rose City in North Little Rock. Inspired by mentors, he found a passion for engineering.
After graduating with his Civil Engineering Degree from The University of Arkansas, he was hired as a project manager for a Little Rock construction firm. Over the next few years, Alley gained experience in the field as a construction manager. Inspired by his father, an entrepreneur, Sam co-founded VCC in 1987 on his 31st birthday. Alley is now Chairman of VCC and recognized as one of the top engineering and construction professionals in the United States. Under his guidance, VCC is consistently listed in the top 100 contractors by the Engineering News Record and recognized as the largest retail contractor in the nation.
Alley has been a pillar in the community for over 35 years.
Together with his wife Janet, Alley established the Master’s of Construction Management at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville). He also served on the steering committee for Campaign Arkansas and is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineering. Alley serves numerous civic groups; he was named a lifetime Board member for Youth Home, a Rotarian, a member of Little Rock Fifty for the Future, and Arkansas Business Executive of the Year for 2013. Alley was honored with the Patriot Award in recognition of his support for our service men and women.
| Cory Anderson
Chief Innovation Officer
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
Cory Anderson is a relentless collaborator. He builds and maintains local and national partnerships and launches bold initiatives in support of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to relentlessly pursue equity for all Arkansans.
In addition to his role at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Anderson formerly served as the interim executive director of ForwARd Arkansas and worked for seven years at The Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore.
He is currently a BMe Public Voices Fellow. He also serves on the boards of the Urban League of Arkansas, the Neighborhood Funders Group and the Asset Funders Network. He is Chair of the Board for Association of the Black Executives and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Arkansas Baptist College.
| Stephanie Bass Jackson
Vice President of Public Engagement The Design Group
Stephanie is Executive Vice President of Public Engagement at The Design Group, Arkansas’ leading multicultural communications agency. As an award-winning public relations professional, she directs the strategy and tactical execution of public communications for agency clients. She also serves the mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott, Jr., in all external relations and was Senior Adviser to his successful reelection campaign for a second term. She served three years as Communications Director in the Office of the Mayor.
Before transitioning to The Design Group, Stephanie’s broadcast journalism career of more than 12 years involved nearly every duty behind and in front of the camera at KARK Channel 4. She is the immediate past president of The Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board for UA Little Rock Public Radio and is a long-standing member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Public Relations Society of America, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc., and a volunteer at her beloved church, Saint Mark Baptist Church.
| Mitch Bettis
Mitch Bettis is the owner of Arkansas Business Publishing Group — the award-winning digital marketing and media company founded in 1995. He is also owner and president of 360 West, a media and marketing company in Fort Worth. Bettis has more than 30 years of experience in management and publishing.
He manages the daily operations of a digital marketing and publishing company that produces more than 30 publications including Arkansas Business, the state’s only weekly print publication and online product dedicated to business in Arkansas.
Before joining Arkansas Business, Bettis oversaw GateHouse Media’s 19 print and digital products in 10 communities in Arkansas and northern Louisiana.
For the past 18 months, Bettis and a group of business leaders with the Rotary Club of Little Rock have been leading an effort with the Little Rock School District, Arkansas Department of Education and area nonprofits to amp the business community’s involvement with LRSD. The new community effort is launching its second pilot project in the spring of 2023, with volunteers, mentors and initiatives to improve reading levels of students between pre-K through third grade so they are reading at grade level by third grade.
A 1990 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, Bettis completed his master’s and doctorate work at Oklahoma State University. From 2007-2009, he was an assistant professor of mass communication at Ouachita Baptist University, teaching courses in public relations, advertising, multimedia communication, news and photojournalism.
He serves on the advisory board of the Hickingbotham School of Business at Ouachita, the advisory board of the School of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the board of visitors of Lyon College, the board of directors of the EAST Initiative and the board of the Rotary Club of Little Rock.
| Greg Bledsoe, M.D., MPH, MBA
Arkansas Surgeon General
Arkansas State Government
Dr. Gregory H. Bledsoe is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician and the current surgeon general for the state of Arkansas. In addition to his duties as surgeon general, Dr. Bledsoe is the medical director of the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and the founder of ExpedMed, a medical education company focused on expedition medicine. In 2022, Dr. Bledsoe ran in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, finishing third in a field of six candidates.
After completing medical school and residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Bledsoe spent five years on faculty in the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine, completing a two-year fellowship in International Emergency Medicine and a Masters in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2005, he received the “Teacher of the Year” award from the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine. In 2021, Dr. Bledsoe completed a Masters of Business Administration in the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Bledsoe has extensive experience in international travel, having visited over 50 countries. His international medical experience includes serving as a field physician in Honduras and Nepal, teaching disaster preparedness in Tanzania, leading a nutritional survey among the Beja tribe in northeast Sudan, working as a medical consultant in Beijing, China, and acting as the medical officer for ships in both Antarctica and the Arctic. He is the chief editor of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, a 700 page medical text published by Cambridge University Press in the spring of 2008.
In addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Bledsoe has been an instructor and medical consultant for the United States Secret Service. He was the personal physician to former President Bill Clinton during Clinton’s tour of Africa in September 2002, and served in Uganda and Senegal on the advance team of President George W. Bush when the President visited the African continent in July of 2003.
Dr. Bledsoe is a member of the Explorers Club and the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society.
| C. Tad Bohannon,J.D. MBA
Central Arkansas Water
C. Tad Bohannon is the Chief Executive Officer of Central Arkansas Water – the largest water services provider in the State of Arkansas, serving approximately 500,000 customers in 18 cities and communities in 7 counties – protecting public health and supporting economic growth in central Arkansas, as well as exploring viable solutions to complex water equity issues throughout the region. Bohannon looks for high-performing, innovative, values-driven, informed, and passionate employees to build resilient systems that are financially viable and environmentally sustainable with strong community support.
Under Bohannon’s leadership, CAW has been recognized as a state and national leader in financial reporting, transparency, community partnerships, sustainability, innovation, education, workforce development, regionalism and watershed management. In 2022, CAW was recognized as one of the Leading Utilities of the World. CAW and its employees have also been recognized globally for their professional excellence and their contributions to the profession. Before joining CAW, Bohannon was a partner at one of the preeminent law firms in Arkansas, and his practice focused on water and wastewater utilities, mergers and acquisitions, startups, municipal law and real estate. Altogether, Bohannon has over 25 years of water and wastewater experience.
Bohannon serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the Association of Regional Water Organizations, the Southwest Section of the American Water Works Association, the Water Research Foundation, the Little Rock Workforce Development Board, and the Arkansas Repertory Theater. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, employee development, diversity, equity and inclusion and Arkansas history, as well as a wide range of water utility issues. Bohannon holds an undergraduate degree from Hendrix College, a law degree from the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law, a Master’s (LL.M.) in taxation from Washington University, and an M.B.A from Oxford University.
Bohannon lives in Little Rock with his wife, Gayle, the Administrator of St. James United Methodist Church; his son, Spencer, a Junior at Catholic High School; and their dog, Softy, a Cavachon who is the queen of the household.
| Austin Booth
Arkansas Game and Fish
At 35 years of age, Austin Booth is the youngest director to lead the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This former United States Marine Corps captain most recently served as chief of staff and chief financial officer for the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. Born in Little Rock and raised in Scott, Booth attended the The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina and served his country in many capacities from 2011-2019, including a 2015-16 deployment to Afghanistan.
After his tour overseas, he spent a year in Washington, D.C., working for Congressman Steve Womack as part of the Marine Corps Congressional Fellowship Program, followed by another two years on Capitol Hill as an advocate for the Marine Corps budget. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain before joining the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. He began his tenure as Director of the AGFC in July 2021.
His passion for promoting “common man and common woman conservation” promises to increase the AGFC’s efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate the next generation of Arkansas’ outdoors enthusiasts. His dedication to supporting science-based conservation will ensure the health of The Natural State’s resources.
| Tjuana Byrd Manning
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tjuana Byrd Manning has spent her adult life in public service. A passionate advocate for children, women and girls, the elderly and healthy living, she is past president of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She was previously appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to serve on the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board and by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to serve on the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force. In 2021, Hutchinson also appointed Byrd Manning to the Arkansas Juvenile Justice Coalition.
Prior to being elected to the bench, Byrd Manning was in private legal practice in North Little Rock, where her primary focus was juvenile matters. In her legal career, she’s served as assistant city attorney for North Little Rock; as Sherwood public defender; and attorney ad litem representing children in foster care in Poinsett County.
She is a life member of the NAACP and is actively involved in the North Little Rock chapter. A member of St. Mark Baptist Church, she serves as large group leader/storyteller in children’s church and a director for the Watson Primary Ensemble Choir for children ages 3-11. In addition to community and church activities, she enjoys travel, exercise and fitness, outdoor activities and attending sporting events.
Byrd Manning is a graduate of Lonoke High School. She received her undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law in 1996.
| Jim Casey
Jim Casey is the CEO of Life; Specialty Ventures (LSV), the holding company of USAble Life and its affiliates. Since joining the company as chief operating officer in 2008, Casey has helped develop and execute on LSV’s strategic vision, delivering impressive levels of growth and profitability for LSV and its equity partners.
With in-depth experience in all aspects of the insurance business, including financial, operations, claims, underwriting, sales, strategy and mergers and acquisitions/integration, Jim has brought a unique set of skills, perspectives and industry credibility to LSV. He has built an exceptional management team with similarly deep expertise and passion for the business.
Casey’s career began as an underwriter at Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB). After earning an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and two years honing his financial skills at General DataComm Industries in the financial and treasury areas, Casey returned to HSB in 1998. He accepted a position as CFO of HSB Industrial Risk Insurers, where he was part of the leadership team that conducted the sale of the business to a unit of General Electric. Casey served as CFO of the new entity.
From 1999 until 2008, Jim led the 1,100-employee benefit management service area at Hartford Financial Services Group. In 2004, he led the successful acquisition and integration of the CNA group benefits division with that of The Hartford. In 2006, he assumed another key leadership role as senior vice president in charge of the group specialty markets division, where he had full profit and loss accountability for four businesses with a combined revenue of approximately $1 billion.
In addition to his MBA, Casey received a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he also played football and lacrosse.
| Jay Chesshir
President & CEO
Little Rock Chamber
Jay Chesshir is well-known for his involvement in the capital city’s development. In 2006, the proud native of Nashville became the 15th president and CEO in the 143-year history of the chamber.
Chesshir began his career at the chamber in 2005 as economic development vice president. He also served as senior staff executive for Fifty for the Future and executive director of the Metro Little Rock Alliance, an 11-county marketing coalition dedicated to promoting Central Arkansas. In 2016, Chessir was elected national board chair of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), representing more than 7500 chamber professionals from more than 1,300 chambers of commerce across the United States and Canada. The next year, he became the only person in ACCE’s 103-year history elected to serve a second term board chair.
Chesshir and his team have worked to help secure economic development projects accounting for more than $2.6 billion in new and expanded capital investment, more than 17,500 jobs and $636 million in new annual payroll for the metro Little Rock region. In addition, he currently serves on the UA Little Rock College of Business Advisory Board, the UA Little Rock College of Engineering & Information Technology Leadership Council, the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board, the Venture Center Board and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.
| Kristi Crum
Kristi Crum, CEO of Rock Dental Brands, leads the strategic performance and growth for more than 92 multispecialty dental clinics across Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Prior to joining Rock Dental Brands in 2019, Crum spent nearly two decades in the telecom industry. With 17 years successfully climbing the ranks at Verizon, she held numerous executive-level positions, including president of the south central region, as well as vice president of marketing and distribution strategy.
Crum is a native Arkansan who began her career in Little Rock with the legacy Alltel Corporation. Throughout her career, she has lived on both the east and west coasts, and she is proud to have made her way back to Arkansas, where she has settled in Little Rock with her twin boys, Conner and Carson.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Hendrix College in Conway. Headquartered in Little Rock, Rock Dental Brands provides general and specialty dental care and operates under multiple brands, including Westrock Orthodontics, Leap Kids Dental, Rock Family Dental and Impact Dental Specialists.
| Jana DeGeorge
Director of Marketing
Simmons Bank Arena
Jana DeGeorge has been Director of Marketing at Simmons Bank Arena since March 2006 and in the marketing department for the last 23 years. Over these 23 years she has developed a very strong working relationship with members of the print and broadcast media across the state as well as concert promoters, artist’ agents and artist’ managers.
DeGeorge’s department of two is responsible for advertising all events that come to the arena using TV, radio, print, social media, outdoor signs, etc. Promoting the venue to the entertainment industry to ensure North Little Rock is on the routing for major tours is a significant part of her job as well. On the day of a show, DeGeorge makes sure the artist and their entourage feel welcomed to the arena and oversees the backstage hospitality components of catering, security, dressing rooms, production office, promoter office and game room.
The only concert she has ever attended, besides working the ones that come through Simmons Bank Arena, was The Eagles in Madison Square Garden in 2013. She loved it.
| Marcy Doderer, FACHE
President & CEO
Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Marcy Doderer, FACHE, is president and chief executive officer at Arkansas Children’s where she leads the state’s only pediatric health system serving the 700,000 children in Arkansas.
A dynamic leader, Doderer is focused on improving child health by advancing patient care, building community and championing excellence through digital transformation, engaged and efficient partnerships and bold child advocacy.
Doderer has stated “Arkansas Children’s will not stop our pursuit of improving child health until Arkansas is the safest, healthiest place to be a child.”
Under Doderer’s leadership, Arkansas Children’s transformed from one hospital into a health system, with two hospitals, a research institute, a philanthropic foundation, regional clinics and alliances, telemedicine and statewide outreach programs. She has led the organization with an unwavering focus on the core values of safety, teamwork, compassion and excellence.
Doderer is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives and active in many professional organizations. She serves as the Chair of the Children’s Hospital Solutions for Patient Safety Board of Directors and Immediate Past Chair of the Children’s Hospital Association Board of Directors.
Doderer has been recognized for her leadership both at the local and national level, including being named one of Modern Healthcare’s “Top 25 Women Leaders” in 2021.
She obtained her BS in Finance from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, and MA in Hospital and Health Administration from The University of Iowa.
| Brad Eichler
Executive VP, Head of Investment Banking
Brad Eichler is the Head of Investment Banking at Stephens Inc. He currently oversees more than 250 banking professionals across nine offices in the U.S. and the operations of Stephens Europe Limited in London, England and Frankfurt, Germany. He oversees all corporate advisory and capital raising services that Stephens provides and has worked on many of the firms’ highest profile transactions.
Eichler joined Stephens in July 1991 as an associate in the firm’s Research Department covering the property and casualty insurance industry. In 1999, he began to focus on building the firm’s research effort in Information Technology and Services and was named Director of Research in 2006. In 2007, he became Co-Head of Investment Banking, and in 2015, he was named Head of the Investment Banking Group.
Prior to joining Stephens, Eichler spent two years with Merrill Lynch Capital Markets. He holds a BBA in finance from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) in 1995.
| Mark Evans
Church at Rock Creek
For 30 years, Mark Evans has been helping people from all walks of life make the most of their life in their relationships, personal lives and careers. As a teenager, he worked as the clubhouse manager for the Arkansas Travelers, where he learned the meaning of hard work, long hours and how to get along with people from all types of different backgrounds. During college, he worked as a personal and research assistant for the Arkansas Secretary of State, frequently traveling to official engagements throughout the state.
After a career in student ministry wrapped up in Florida, Evans returned to his home state in 1995 to start a new church concept in Little Rock. From an opening day attendance of 24 people, The Church at Rock Creek has grown to more than 5,000 members in the last two decades. In addition, Evans is the owner of Mr. Wicks men’s clothing store in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood.
| Scott Ford
CEO & Co-founder
Westrock Coffee Company
Scott Ford, Co-founder of Westrock Coffee Company, serves as Chief Executive Officer. When Ford started Westrock Coffee, the goal was to give back in a way that led to economic change in the lives of the people of Rwanda.
Evidence 13 years later is a vertically integrated coffee company that impacts over 1 million members of smallholder farming households in more than 20 different coffee growing countries worldwide. Prior to co-founding Westrock, Ford served as President and CEO of Alltel Corporation.
Ford began his professional career as an investment banker and subsequently served as the Assistant to the Chairman at Stephens Group, where his work involved traditional investment banking services, equity portfolio management, venture capital investing and acquisitions in the media industry. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of AT&T Inc.
| George Gleason
Chairman & CEO
George Gleason has served for 43 years as Chairman and CEO of Bank OZK. He purchased controlling interest in what was then known as Bank of Ozark in 1979 while working as an attorney. He was just 25 years old.
Under Gleason’s leadership, Bank OZK has been profitable every quarter during his tenure, and it has grown almost one thousandfold with over 240 offices in eight states and total assets of around $27 billion. The company trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and consistently ranks as one of the top-performing financial institutions in the country. Bank OZK, through its Real Estate Specialties Group, is also widely recognized as the preeminent commercial real estate construction lender of marquee properties across America.
Gleason is a native Arkansan who received his undergraduate degree in business and economics from Hendrix College and earned his law degree from the University of Arkansas.
In 2022, Gleason was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
| Tim Griffin
Arkansas Attorney General
Tim Griffin is the current Arkansas Attorney General, having just completed his second term as the 20th Arkansas Lieutenant Governor. He was elected to the lieutenant governorship in 2014 and reelected in 2018.
The Magnolia native represented Arkansas’ Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011-15 and served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2006-07. For the 113th Congress, Griffin was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as a Deputy Whip for the Majority. In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on the Judiciary. In 2019, he served as Chairman of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association.
Griffin has served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, for over 20 years and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Hendrix College, a juris doctor from Tulane University and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College.
| Kalene Griffith
Kalene Griffith is a passionate and dedicated leader in the tourism and hospitality industry. As President and CEO of Visit Bentonville since 2005, she has overseen the organization as the city has undergone a significant transformation, with explosive population growth and positive economic, social and cultural advancement. Through collaborative effort, Bentonville has become a global hotspot for individuals to experience world-class cycling, food and the arts.
Griffith is a tireless advocate for her city and its people, committed to evaluating challenges and celebrating successes. With a strong commitment to collaboration, she works closely with other organizations and individuals to share her enthusiasm and help promote Bentonville, showcasing its unique beauty and its many attractions in order to help build a community that is a wonderful place to both visit and live.
Griffith is a member of several boards and committees dedicated to promoting tourism and community engagement. She is currently chair of the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association, former chair of the Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Commission and a board member at the Arkansas Hospitality Association Travel Council. She is also highly involved with the Arkansas Association of Convention Visitors Bureau and the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce.
Griffith resides in Bentonville with her husband, John. She enjoys spending time around Bentonville with friends and family, including the couple’s two adult children, Keegan and Keelah.
| Robert Hall
Hugg and Hall
Robert Hall is the co-owner and vice president of Hugg & Hall Equipment Company, one of the most trusted providers of full-service industrial and material handling equipment in 19 markets across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas. Hugg & Hall was founded in 1956 as Lift Truck Sales & Service Corporation before becoming Clarklift of Arkansas in 1960. Hall joined the company in 1979, and in 1990, he and John Hugg purchased the business from Hugg’s father, Charles.
Through a number of acquisitions since then, the pair have grown Hugg & Hall into one of the largest independent rental companies in the Mid-South. The company’s offerings include new and used equipment, parts and service support and over 12,000 rental units. Hugg & Hall also represents top industrial manufacturer brands, including Toyota, Doosan, JLG, Crown, Taylor, Genie, Combilift and Bobcat.
Hall earned his master’s degree in finance from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
| Gary Head
Chairman, CEO & President
Gary Head is CEO and President of Signature Bank of Arkansas and its holding company, White River Bancshares. Head graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BSBA in Finance and Banking in 1982. He began his banking career in 1983 with McIlroy Bank and Trust and was recruited in 1984 by First State Bank where he served as Vice President, Commercial Lending.
Head graduated from the SMU School of Banking in 1987 and that same year rejoined McIlroy Bank and Trust as Vice President, Commercial Loans. During Head’s tenure with Arvest Bank in Fayetteville (formerly McIlroy Bank and Trust) he was Loan Division Manager, Executive Vice President/Sales Manager and in 1999 was named President and CEO. In 2000 he received his Masters of Banking from LSU. Head maintained that position with the bank until 2004 when he resigned to start Signature Bank of Arkansas.
Head’s commitment and contribution to the community is well-known; he currently serves on the boards of the NWA Council, Arisa Health, Washington Regional Foundation, and Pagnozzi/Parker Charity. He is currently serving as President of the Arkansas Community Bankers Board and Chair for the Arkansas State Chamber/AIA.
| Alan Hope
Powers of Arkansas
Alan Hope has been CEO of Powers of Arkansas, one of the largest privately owned HVAC companies in the state of Arkansas and a Siemens independent field office. He was the Powers’ first employee when it was established in 1985, and became vice president, but left in 1997 to become a partner in Tinsley Mullen Engineers.
In 2005 he purchased Powers of Arkansas from its previous owner, Paul Briscoe, becoming its new CEO. Since then, Hope has carried the company into an era of immense growth, more than quadrupling the number of employees and establishing services across Arkansas and into neighboring states.
Hope earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Education from the University of Arkansas. He is an active member of energy and engineering communities, serving as a board member for the Arkansas Association of Healthcare Engineers, Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation Inc. and Arkansas Advanced Energy Association.
| Amanda Jaeger
Senior Manager of Digital Strategy
Walmart Corporate Affairs
Amanda Jaeger is a Senior Manager of Digital Strategy for Walmart working with the corporate Digital Strategy and Brand Engagement Team. With a focus on social media strategy, she manages C-suite executive communication and assists with developing impactful strategies for various communication campaigns throughout the company.
A social media influencer herself, Jaeger has nearly 2 million followers from across the country. Her success in growing a personal brand on emerging platforms like TikTok has garnered attention from the business community. Jaeger has served as a guest instructor for LinkedIn Learning and appeared as a guest on multiple marketing and business focused podcasts.
Previously, Jaeger was an award-winning News Anchor for the CBS affiliate in Little Rock, where she won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for Innovation and was nominated for a regional Emmy award. Jaeger is passionate about mentoring young women and has been a volunteer within the Miss America Organization for the last 8 years. Jaeger won the title of Miss Kansas in 2014 and competed at Miss America in Atlantic City, where she was selected as a Quality of Life finalist for her commitment to service. As Miss Kansas, she served the state as an Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and spent the year traveling as a professional public speaker, performer, and advocate.
Jaeger and her husband, Mitch, recently moved to Northwest Arkansas and are excited to connect with people and organizations across the community and within their church, New Heights – Bentonville.
| William Jones IV
Sissy’s Log Cabin
Born and raised in The Natural State, William Jones has played an integral role in expanding Sissy’s Log Cabin’s footprint across Arkansas and into Tennessee. As chief operations officer and member of the executive board of directors for the family-owned and -operated jewelry store, Jones focuses on perfecting what truly sets Sissy’s apart: extraordinary customer service and a culture of caring, both for its employees and for the communities it serves.
Jones graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and went on to attend the Gemological Institute of America, becoming a graduate gemologist in 2013. A father of two, Jones cherishes his time with his wife and family and is passionate about giving his time, talents, and treasures to local organizations and charities in the communities Sissy’s Log Cabin serves.
| Matt Jones, J.D., CFP
Matt Jones, JD, CFP, serves as president and directional leader at Little Rock based Legacy Capital, a comprehensive wealth management firm that he joined in 1997. He also serves as a wealth adviser to ultra-affluent clients throughout the United States and advises them in the areas of asset management, estate tax and multigenerational wealth transfer planning and life insurance planning. Jones received a BSBA in financial management from the Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of the Razorback tennis team, and he earned a law degree from the UALR Bowen School of Law.
While enrolled in law school, he clerked at three of Arkansas’ largest law firms before deciding his passion was in finance and investments where he has practiced since 1994. Prior to joining Legacy Capital, he also held positions with investment banking firms Morgan Keegan Inc. of Memphis and Stephens Inc. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for New York based CAIS, the leading firm in the country delivering alternative investment solutions to independent financial advisors. Additionally, he is a multiple qualifier for MDRT’s exclusive Top of the Table recognizing the life insurance industry’s top advisers. Jones is active in the community, serving on several nonprofit boards and ministries. He currently serves as chair of the Baptist Health Foundation Board.
| Jerrilyn Jones, M.D.
Associate Director for Science
Office of Preparedness and Emergency Response Systems
Arkansas Department of Health
Jerrilyn Jones is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) where she is responsible for educating the next generation of emergency medicine physicians and leaders in medicine. She was named Director of UAMS’s inaugural Post-Baccalaureate Program created to increase the number of Arkansans from disadvantaged backgrounds admitted to the College of Medicine. In its first year, the program successfully placed nearly 70% of its students into medical school and graduate school programs. As the Medical Director for the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Response Systems at the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), she was a key participant in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic creating “COVID-Comm,” a statewide system designed to balance the load of COVID-19 patients more effectively in hospitals throughout the state and designing the plans for Alternative Care Facilities should traditional hospital become unavailable. She was named to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Winter Task Force and served as part of ADH’s Pandemic Physicians Group. In 2021, she was named Woman of the Year in Public Service by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas.
In addition to her practice in emergency medicine and public health, Dr. Jones has extensive experience in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), having worked as medical director for both a
paramedic training program and a private ambulance service, where she was charged with ensuring the competency and readiness of Nationally Registered EMS personnel. Her practical expertise includes working at the finish line as a first responder during the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and as a first receiver during the civil unrest in Baltimore in 2015.
She graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency and fellowship training with Boston Medical Center and Boston EMS, respectively. She is a former Flight Surgeon in the United States Air Force and served in Afghanistan with the 75th Fighter Squadron during Operation Enduring Freedom. Her passion lies in responding to real world disasters and emergencies, as well as educating medical students, residents, paramedics, and the community at large.
| Chris Jones, Ph.D.
2022 Gubernatorial Candidate
Dr. Chris Jones, the 2022 Democratic nominee for Governor of Arkansas, was the first African American to be nominated Governor by a major political party in Arkansas. His campaign launch video was the most-viewed campaign launch video in the country for the 2022 election cycle.
With graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and urban planning, and 20 years of experience in energy, infrastructure, community development, and business, Jones has used his background to advance innovation and entrepreneurship. He has led and participated in projects in engineering, physics, and urban planning, including a study on the future of nuclear power. As a principal at BCT Partners, Jones was lead executive on numerous multimillion-dollar federal projects. He has served on several boards of directors and spent one year teaching in the Boston Public Schools. During his time as assistant dean for graduate education at MIT, Jones led efforts that doubled minority enrollment and more than tripled minority applications to MIT graduate programs.
Prior to his run for Governor, Jones was the executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub where he helped dozens of entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses and created programs that trained thousands of Arkansans on various STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) topics. One program launched during his tenure, The Skills to Launch Program, provides young adults with certification and training in trades such as roofing, welding, HVAC, and carpentry. This unique initiative continues to provide workforce development and upskilling that has generated a high job placement rate for graduates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones pivoted the organization to virtual training that addressed digital literacy and he developed the Arkansas Maker Taskforce to address the supply chain issues.
Jones holds five degrees, math and physics bachelors degrees from Morehouse College, an M.S. in nuclear engineering and an M.S. in technology and policy from MIT, and a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning from MIT. He and his wife, Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, an emergency room physician, live with their three daughters in Little Rock.
| Brad Lacy
President & CEO
Conway Chamber of Commerce
Brad Lacy is a native of Ida and began his economic development career in 1997 with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission as a community development consultant and later as a project manager, where he worked to recruit companies to the state.
Lacy has served as the president and CEO of the Conway Development Corporation — the city’s nonprofit economic development entity — since 2000. In 2006, Lacy became president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. It marked the first time in nearly two decades the Chamber and CDC had been under the leadership of the same person. The combined management of both organizations brings the city a larger staff to focus on economic development activities. In 2013 and 2022, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce was named Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and was runner-up in 2018.
Lacy holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. He is a graduate of the Community Development Institute at UCA, the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management. Lacy was awarded his Certified Chamber Executive credentials from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in 2011.
Lacy is a former member of the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees and served two terms on the Board of Regents for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce West Institute of Organization Management, where he served as chairman.
| Steve Landers
Steve Landers Auto Group
Steve Landers, Sr. currently serves as President of Landers Racing, LLC and Steve Landers Automotive Consulting.
Landers got his start in the car industry early, washing cars at a dealership in Little Rock when he was 14. After graduating high school at the age of 17, Landers married and began to sell cars at a Ford dealership. Soon after, he and his father opened a used car store in Benton in 1973 and would purchase their first new dealership in 1989, which sold Jeeps and Oldsmobiles.
Under his management, the stores flourished, and his Chrysler dealership became the world’s largest for several consecutive years, selling over 10,000 vehicles annually and setting the standard all other Chrysler dealers measured their success against. In addition to the significant sales volume, the Chrysler dealership earned the Gold Level Recognition for customer satisfaction from Chrysler each year.
After years of success in Benton, Landers sold his dealerships to United Auto Group (now Penske Automotive Group) in 1997, becoming head of the company’s south-central region, which oversaw operations in five states. After working for one of the largest auto groups in the nation for a few years, Landers bought a Toyota dealership in Little Rock to get back into local business.
In 2004, Landers formed a partnership with Robert Johnson and Mack McLarty, creating RJL McLarty Landers Automotive and running the company as president. The auto group became one of the best-performing dealership groups in the nation. Landers retired as president in 2012 to be a member of the advisory board and join forces with his son to create the new family of Steve Landers dealerships. Now, the Landers stores are some of the highest-grossing in the region as part of the Luther Automotive Group.
Landers lives in Little Rock with his wife, Sandy. They are active members of Immanuel Baptist Church and are involved in several charity organizations, including the American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society.
| Kim Leverret
Founder & Owner
A Kick Above
Dr. Kim Leverett is the founder and owner of A Kick Above Personal Training Studio in Little Rock. A Kick Above is a private, member-only, personal training facility. As a personal trainer for 22 years and a pharmacist for 30 years, she uses a unique combination of medical and fitness knowledge to help her clients pursue overall health and wellness. After graduating from pharmacy school, she practiced in a community pharmacy, which fed her desire to help patients take control of their health by living more active, healthier lifestyles. She holds trainer certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the National Exercise Trainer Association (NETA).
Leverett, a native Arkansan, is active in her community. She serves as a guest and member ambassador at her church, Saint Mark Baptist Church and is a member of the Arkansas Heart Hospital Board of Directors. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a 2020 alumnus of Leadership Greater Little Rock. As an eight-year breast cancer survivor, Leverett is an advocate and mentor for breast cancer survivors and teaches about the importance of routine and early screening and detection.
In her studio, her training philosophy is simple: To help clients be the best version of themselves. With this in mind, she endeavors to help people reach their goals and live healthier lives in every aspect: mind, body, and soul. In her words, “It’s a Lifestyle!”
| Michael Manning
Director of Digital Marking
McLarty Automotive Group
Michael Manning is the Director of Digital Marketing for the McLarty Automotive Group. With home offices in Little Rock, McLarty Automotive Group is a regional auto retailer and the largest in Arkansas with 26 dealerships representing 19 brands. Manning is responsible for coordination and execution of digital marketing across all dealership locations. He is a recognized leader in automotive advertising and serves on several advisory councils. He is committed to providing frictionless digital experiences leading to transparent transactions that meet the automotive needs in the communities served by McLarty Automotive Group.
Manning is a graduate of Morehouse College and has completed Data Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Analytics curriculums at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. He made Little Rock his home in 2018 and immediately became active in the community where he serves on the boards of the Arkansas Repertory Theater and the Quality Living Center.
| Dustin McDaniel
Dustin McDaniel is a founding partner of the Little Rock law firm McDaniel Wolff, PLLC. McDaniel works with some of America’s largest corporations to assist with their interactions with state attorneys general from both parties. From 2007-2015, Dustin served as Arkansas’s 55th Attorney General and served as a Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives before being elected Attorney General. McDaniel serves as the National Co-Chair of the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE), and in 2022, the National Association of Attorneys General presented McDaniel with the Francis X. Bellotti Award for the outstanding former attorney general in the United States. Also in 2022, McDaniel was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Central Arkansas Library System.
McDaniel’s practice focuses on assisting clients with state attorney general investigations, consumer protection and administrative law issues, multi-state litigation, antitrust issues, tobacco enforcement and other regulatory compliance. McDaniel Wolff, PLLC has one of the most successful small-firm, state attorney general practices in the nation.
McDaniel serves as lead counsel in Arkansas for Legends Resort and Casino, LLC in their efforts to build and operate a $300 million resort property creating more than 1,100 jobs.
McDaniel is active in many professional, public service and charitable organizations. He is a past member of the Board of Directors for the University of Arkansas Alumni Association and the Board of Our House in Little Rock. In 2019, The UALR William H. Bowen School of Law presented McDaniel with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. McDaniel continues to serve on the law school’s Dean’s Advisory Council and as an Adjunct Professor of Law.
McDaniel and his wife, Bobbi, have three children. Bobbi works as the Development Director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
| Adam Mitchell
President & CEO
Adam Mitchell has been serving Citizens Bank as CEO since early 2021 and has more than 20 years of experience in the banking industry. Before joining Citizens Bank, he served as executive vice president and chief retail officer responsible for overseeing branch performance, staffing and service, and sales delivery for more than 190 locations across seven states at another Arkansas bank.
During his tenure at Citizens Bank, the bank has reached $1.3 billion in assets and received various local and national distinctions. Most recently, these include being named American Banker’s “2022 Best Banks to Work For” in the category for banks with less than $3 billion in assets.
A focus on creating a positive culture by putting People First is core to Mitchell’s life philosophy as well. Mitchell has dedicated a significant portion of his career to giving back to the community. He is an advisory board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and, together with his wife, Kristie, was honored with its Living & Giving Award in 2017 and served as co-chair of the Central Arkansas Heart Ball in 2014. Mitchell also currently serves as a board member for USAble Life Corporation, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Health Group. He has also held various roles with Hendrix College, the Arkansas Bankers Association, Baptist Health Foundation, and Junior Achievement of Arkansas. He leads with the conviction that collaboration is the key to success. He believes collaboration brings new ideas, which, in turn, create opportunities for innovation and creative problem-solving. In his spare time, he enjoys bass fishing and spending time with his family.
| Ben Noble
EVP & COO
Ben Noble joined the Riceland Leadership Team in 2017. Noble currently serves as the Executive Vice President and COO for the 101-year-old cooperative, focusing his efforts on operational excellence with an emphasis on supply chain management and efficiency. Noble initially served as Riceland’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and in that role he, along with the leadership team, assisted the organization through rebranding the consumer-facing brand and repositioning its messaging strategy.
Noble was a Commissioner for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors for the USA Rice Millers Association, USA Rice Council, USA Rice Federation, as well as the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the National Wild Turkey Federation. From Ethel, Arkansas, Noble is a 1995 graduate of the University of Arkansas. He and his wife, Kyle Loveless Noble, have two children, James and Ainsley.
Riceland Foods is the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice serving 5,500 farmer members in Arkansas and Missouri. As a farmer-owned cooperative, Riceland stores, transports, processes and markets more than 2.5 million metric tons of grain each year, and its products are sold across the United States and in 75 countries. It’s also one of the Mid-South’s major soybean processors. Riceland products include white, brown and parboiled rice, rice bran oil, soybean meal and oil and feed ingredients.
| Lucie Pathmann
SVP of Corporate Marketing
Westrock Coffee Company
As Westrock Coffee’s SVP of Corporate Marketing, Lucie Pathman oversees the development of integrated marketing and communications strategies to build and deliver a “one voice” approach to the company’s globally recognized brand. Based in Little Rock, Pathman joined Westrock Coffee in October 2021. In her role, Pathman leads a team that has responsibilities over digital marketing, graphic design, brand strategy, public relations and tradeshows and events.
Prior to Westrock Coffee, Pathman was the Director of Brand Management and Communications for Arkansas-based ad agency, Stone Ward. Pathman began her career over 27 years ago at Alltel, allowing her to amass national credentials in marketing communications across a wide range of disciplines – from promotions, sports marketing, events and publicity.
Pathman received her undergraduate at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is also an alumnus of both the Greater Little Rock Leadership (Class XXVII) and Arkansas State Leadership Program (2016).
| José Romero, M.D.
Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases,
José R. Romero, MD, is Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, where he leads efforts to detect, prevent and respond to vaccine- preventable and respiratory infectious diseases.
Dr. Romero’s efforts in public health, academic medicine and research span more than three decades. From 2020-2022, he served as Arkansas Secretary of Health and Director of the Arkansas Department of Health, where he led the state’s response to COVID-19. He was Director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) pediatric infectious diseases section from 2008-2020 and held the Horace C. Cabe endowed chair.
He has served on various advisory committees to federal agencies. As chair of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices from 2018-2021, Dr. Romero provided guidance on the use of COVID-19, influenza and routine vaccines. He also served as chair of the U.S. Poliovirus National Certification Committee and FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
Dr. Romero has contributed extensively to antiviral, pneumococcal surveillance and enteroviral pathogenesis. Furthermore, his work in disease research led to a patent for discoveries made in his lab. He held faculty appointments at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and UAMS, and he completed a Minority Medical Faculty Development Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He was Director of UNMC’s Latino Health-Related Research and Minority Health Education and Research offices.
Dr. Romero earned his medical degree in 1977 from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases Society of America and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. His memberships include the American Pediatric Society, Society for Pediatric Research, American Society for Virology and Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He has authored or co-authored nearly 200 articles, policy statements and chapters and received numerous education, health and service awards.
| John Rutledge
Regional President, Little Rock
First Security Bank
As Regional President, Little Rock for First Security Bank, John Rutledge follows in the footsteps of his father, Reynie Rutledge, who is chairman of the Searcy-based financial institution. John’s path to the family business began at the University of Arkansas’s Walton College of Business, from which he graduated with a degree in finance management in 2001.
After graduation, Rutledge joined Crews & Associates, a regional broker based in Little Rock, which had recently been bought by First Security. After earning his MBA from the U of A in 2004, he joined the bank’s northwest Arkansas operations. He moved to Little Rock in 2007 where he has remained, developing the bank’s presence in the region and building relationships with customers.
In the process, Rutledge has become highly involved with local organizations, living out the community focus of First Security Bank. Rutledge serves as both the chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s board of directors and as a commissioner for the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission. He is a natural fit for the latter, being not only an experienced business leader but also a licensed pilot from a family of active aviators.
| Carlton Saffa
Chief Market Officer
Saracen Casino Resort
Carlton Saffa currently serves as Chief Market Officer Saracen Casino Resort. In his role, Saffa reports to the Quapaw Business Committee, the elected governing body of the Quapaw Nation.
Saffa oversaw the licensure of the enterprise in all forums, including the property’s casino gaming license. In addition, he served as one of the owner’s representatives in the construction of the Saracen Annex, a 300 slot machine facility that was completed and operational in 100 days. Saracen’s main property was developed in parallel and Saffa was onsite daily throughout.
Today, as CMO, Saffa is responsible for the outward-facing functions of the property as well as a number of critical non-gaming functions. Day-to-day management of the property’s 800+ employees is co-managed by Saffa alongside two additional senior executives.
Notably, Saffa led the effort to regulate mobile sports gaming in Arkansas, and today BetSaracen books 2/3 of all online wagers in our state.
Previously, Saffa served as Senior Advisor to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, work that began before the Governor’s inauguration. In this role, Saffa handled complex and potentially controversial issues on behalf of the Governor as well as coordinated the passage of Hutchinson’s priority legislation.
A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Saffa and his wife, Kristen, live in Little Rock with their two young children.
47th Governor of Arkansas
Inaugurated on Jan. 10, 2023, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the first woman to serve as governor of the state and currently is the youngest governor in the country.
Prior to her historic victory, Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, she advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders worked closely with the president, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and accompanying the president on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sarah was only the third woman – and the very first mom – to ever hold the job of White House Press Secretary.
Upon her departure from the administration, President Trump described Sanders as “irreplaceable,” a “warrior,” and “very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job.”
Sanders joined the Trump campaign as a senior advisor in February 2016 during the Republican primary and continued in that role through the President’s historic victory that November.
Sanders has previously worked in leadership roles for U.S. Senators, Governors, and presidential campaigns. In Arkansas, Sanders was a senior advisor to U.S. Senator Tom Cotton’s 2014 victorious campaign and was campaign manager for U.S. Senator John Boozman’s winning campaign in 2010. In 2007 and 2008, Sarah helped lead her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to victory in the Iowa Caucuses and seven other states as his national political director. Sanders served in the Department of Education during President George W. Bush’s administration, and was campaign manager of the ONE campaign, a global nonprofit founded by U2’s Bono to take action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
Sanders has been recognized in Fortune and TIME Magazine “40 under 40.” She is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Speaking for Myself,” a former Fox News Channel contributor, and served on the Fulbright board.
Sanders grew up in Pine Bluff and Texarkana and is a proud graduate of Little Rock Central High and Ouachita Baptist University.
She lives in Little Rock with her husband, Bryan, their children Scarlett, Huck and George, and their golden retriever, Traveler.
| Patrick Schueck
President & CEO
Patrick Schueck is president and CEO of Lexicon Fabricators and Constructors, a leading provider of construction management, fabrication, erection, mechanical installation, golf course construction and plant management services, providing up to four million man-hours and 150,000 tons of steel annually. Under his leadership, the company has now grown to include Lexicon Industrial Constructors, Prospect Steel and Custom Metals, Heritage Links and Lexicon Energy Services.
During his tenure, Schueck has overseen many of Lexicon’s largest steel fabrication and erection contracts, including the expansion of the McCormick Center in Chicago; AT&T Stadium, formerly Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington; ThyssenKrupp Galvanizing Lines and Melt Shop in Calvert, Alabama; NASA Stennis A3 Test Stand in Mississippi; and numerous Nucor Corporation projects. He has also been instrumental in transforming Prospect Steel into the world’s leader in automated robotic fabrication.
Born and raised in Little Rock, Schueck gives his time freely to state nonprofit organizations. A three-time cancer survivor, he considers it a privilege to support Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where he is a member of the board of directors. He also serves on the boards for the American Institute of Steel Construction, Boys & Girls Club of Central Arkansas, Little Rock Regional Chamber’s Fifty for the Future and US Bank. In addition, he is a member of the American Contractors Insurance Group Executive Committee; National Steel Bridge Alliance Executive Committee; University of Arkansas College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, where he received his bachelor’s degree; and Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineering. He is the former chairman of the American Red Cross Greater Arkansas Chapter.
Schueck and his wife, Jessica, are the proud parents of Mason, Ava, Hayden and Whitten.
| Dawn Scott
The Janet Jones Company
Dawn Scott is one of the most respected, well-known, and trusted personalities in Central Arkansas. After an award-winning 25-year career in media, she joined The Janet Jones Company as a Sales Associate. Scott has been a reliable source of information for many years in our community, with thousands of viewers allowing her into their homes each night. But along with a more determined drive to be present with her kids, the biggest change Scott has seen in her reflection is a sturdy shift of priorities in her career. “When I started working in my 20s, it was all about stories and fun and my career, and now it’s completely about how I can use this career to help,” she says. “I find the older I get, if there’s a component of service, it drives me to work harder.”
Scott grew up in Little Rock and knows local schools, churches, organizations and our beautiful community. She is a mom to a son and daughter, and they are members of Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church. She serves on the Board of Directors for four Central Arkansas nonprofit organizations and is passionate about helping children in Arkansas foster care. Scott is inspired when she is helping others, and she is thrilled for the opportunity to assist clients with their real estate transactions, whether they are buying or selling. “I’m a local rental property owner, and I’m a licensed real estate agent. I’ve grown to love it, and I guess you could say, it runs in my blood. My grandfather was a real estate broker, and my uncle is a licensed broker in another state.”
| Rodney Showmar
President & CEO
Arkansas Federal Credit Union
Rodney Showmar serves as President and CEO for Arkansas Federal Credit Union (AFCU), headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. AFCU is the 11th largest financial institution in Arkansas with over $2.1 billion in assets and 140,000+ members. Showmar began his career in credit unions with Arkansas Federal in 2001 as Vice President of Marketing, moving into the Chief Operating Officer role prior to his promotion to CEO. Today he works alongside 400+ passionate team members who are committed to “Be The Difference” and change the world we live in every day.
Prior to joining Arkansas Federal in 2001, Showmar was employed for ten years in the retail industry as a Senior Buyer with Dillard’s Department Stores and Senior Market Research Analyst with Reliant Energy. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where he earned a BSBA degree in Marketing Management and served as Captain on the University of Arkansas Cheerleading squad. Rodney earned his MBA from Capella University in February of 2015. Showmar is a graduate of the Consumer Bankers Associations Graduate School of Retail Bank Management.
Showmar is an Arkansas native and a 1986 graduate of Little Rock Catholic High School. Active in the local philanthropic and community activities, Showmar has served as a member of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a lifetime member of Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Committee for the Future, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Camp Robinson/Camp Pike Community Council, Junior Achievement of Arkansas Board of Directors, the Arkansas Credit Union League Board of Directors, and as an Honorary Commander of the 41st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base.
Showmar is married to his wife and best friend, Shelly, and they have one adult son, Brandon, who is a 2012 graduate of the University of Memphis.
| W.R. “Witt”
CEO & Co-chairman
The Stephens Group
Wilton “Witt” Stephens is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Stephens Group, LLC. The Stephens Group is the family office for Witt’s family as well as the family of his sister, Elizabeth Campbell. Unlike most other family offices, the firm operates a fully staffed professional organization specially dedicated to direct investing in or oversight of private companies.
Prior to the formation of Stephens Group, Witt oversaw the combined Stephens Family’s energy and natural resource investment activities. Witt continues to serve as Chairman of Stephens Natural Resources and its wholly owned subsidiaries. Stephens Natural Resources is one of the nation’s largest privately held exploration and production companies, as it expanded its exploration and production activities from the Arkoma Basin to the Western Anadarko Basin, the Gulf of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, South Texas and Louisiana.
Previously, as part of the combined Stephens family organization, he served as Senior Vice President of Stephens Production Company; Vice Chairman of SF Holding Corp. (formerly Stephens Group, Inc.); a member of the Executive Committee; and a director of the Board.
Currently, Witt is Co-Chairman of SF Holding Corp, a Board member of Summit Industrial and past Board member of Westrock Coffee, JV Industrial Services, First National Bank of Stuttgart, The Bank of North Arkansas and Hazen First State Bank.
Witt is a passionate outdoorsman and conservationist who is past Chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, past President and President Emeritus of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation and past Board member of The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. He has also served on the Board of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, as Chairman of the Grant County Museum Foundation and is a former Board member of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Currently, he serves as a Trustee on the Board of Tall Timbers Research, Inc. and is on the Board of Summit Industrial. Witt is a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame.
Witt has been married to his wife, Carol, for 25 years and they have two children, Arden Stephens and Witt Stephens III.
| Lorrie Trogden
President & CEO
Arkansas Bankers Association
Lorrie Trogden serves as the President and CEO of the Arkansas Bankers Association. She leads the Association’s strategic initiatives, including planning, member services, governance, and legislative affairs at the state and federal level.
She considers it an honor to serve Arkansas’ community banks who drive our state’s economy with over $147 billion in assets, 24,000 jobs, 140 thousand volunteer hours, and over $28 million in community donations. When Arkansas banks are successful, the state’s economy is successful. This was recognized by Gov. Asa Hutchinson when he appointed Trogden to the Economic Recovery task force in 2020, and again when she was tapped to travel with the Governor to meet with President Trump at the White House and discuss Arkansas small business PPP program successes.
In a recent state legislative session she worked with legislators on writing a bill that would strengthen banks’ ability to help prevent financial elder abuse. The new law has been successfully utilized by banks and the Attorney General’s office, already saving vulnerable Arkansans thousands of dollars. The law recently won the American Bankers Association Foundation’s Community Commitment Award for Protecting Older Americans.
Trogden has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Masters of Science in Operations Management, and is an American Society of Association Executives Certified Association Executive.
Trogden serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Graduate School of Banking at Madison, Wisconsin, a trustee for the Graduate School of Banking at LSU, Economics Arkansas Executive Committee, Arkansas Capital Corporation Executive Committee, State Alliance of Banking Associations Executive Committee, American BankPAC Board of Directors and the American Society of Association Executives Government Relations Committee.
| Matthew Waller, Ph.D.
Sam M. Walton College of Business
Matthew A. Waller, Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University, is dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, where he also serves as the Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair and a professor of Supply Chain Management.
Waller was the recipient of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Distinguished Service Award in 2020 and is the former co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Business Logistics. In addition to his work in academia, Waller is a board member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and was co-founder of Bentonville Associates Ventures and co-founder of Mercari Technologies.
Waller also is co-author of “The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management,” “Purple on the Inside: How J.B. Hunt Transport Set Itself Apart in a Field Full of Brown Cows,” “Integrating Blockchain into Supply Chain Management: A Toolkit for Practical Implementation,” “Values-Driven Authentic Leadership,” and “The Dean’s List: Leading a Modern Business School.”
| Sam Walls, III
Arkansas Capital Corporation
Sam Walls, III has been with Arkansas Capital Corporation for almost 20 years and currently serves as its CEO.
Walls’ career started in the foundation and finance and insurance industries before joining ACC in 2003, where he was part of the team that expanded ACC’s project finance and entrepreneurial support efforts including the deployment of over $400 million in federal New Market Tax Credits, raising $160 million in EB-5 capital, and the growth of the Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan competition.
Walls is a graduate of Little Rock Catholic High School; Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas; and the Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas. Currently he is serving as a board member of the National New Market Tax Credit Coalition, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Mount St. Mary’s Academy Foundation.
Arkansas Capital is a non-depository Community Development Financial Institution that has helped provide over $2 billion in capital through small business loans and project finance. Walls and his team at Arkansas Capital continue to work closely with state and local leaders to further economic development initiatives.
| Alice Walton
Alice L. Walton Foundation
Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton is committed to increasing access to arts, improving education, enhancing health and well-being, and advancing economic opportunity for all. Walton is dedicated to promoting diversity and access in all of her philanthropic work.
Walton founded Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Since its opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed more than 11 million visitors to its building and grounds, with free admission for all.
In 2020, Crystal Bridges opened a satellite location, the Momentary, focusing on contemporary, visual and performing arts, and also offering free admission.
In 2017, Walton established the Art Bridges Foundation to expand access to American art across the nation. Art Bridges provides funding and support to get art out of storage and into communities. The foundation provides funding to museums to expand their art offerings through temporary exhibitions, art collection loans, and learning/engagement programs that connect with local communities.
That same year, Walton also founded the Alice L. Walton Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization based in Bentonville and committed to increasing access to the arts, improving education, enhancing healthn and supporting basic needs in Arkansas and beyond.
Walton’s transformative experiences in the arts led to an interest in wellness, and how art, nature, and the spaces around us shape and improve our lives. In 2019, Walton established the Whole Health Institute, a nonprofit organization that addresses physical, mental, emotional and social well-being by working with health systems, medical professional and employers to redesign health care delivery.
In addition, in 2021 she founded the nonprofit Alice L. Walton School of Medicine, which is in the early stages of construction and seeking accreditation. The school will offer a four-year, medical degree-granting program that integrates conventional medicine with holistic principles. Taught by leading medical practitioners and scientific minds, the first-of-its-kind medical school will help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century with a focus on physical, mental and emotional health.
| Steuart Walton, J.D.
Steuart Walton is the co-founder of Runway Group, a Bentonville-based holding company that invests in real estate, outdoor initiatives, hospitality and other businesses in Northwest Arkansas to make the region the best place to live. An avid pilot, Walton is also the founder and chairman of Game Composites, LLC, which designs and manufactures small composite aircraft.
Walton sits on the boards of numerous businesses and organizations, including Walmart, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Flipkart, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Walton is also a dedicated philanthropist with a great love for NWA. Through the Runway Group, he and his brother, Tom, have made major investments in the forms of Artists 360, The Momentary, the development of nearly 1,000 miles of trails, tree planting and many other economic development, environmental and diversity, equity, and inclusion projects in the region.
Walton previously worked for Allen & Overy, LLP in London, then later in Walmart’s international division, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado Boulder and a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.
| Troy Wells
President & CEO
Troy Wells is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Baptist Health, the largest health care system in Arkansas comprising 11 hospitals, a large integrated physician enterprise, a retirement village and long term care facility, state-wide home health and hospice agencies, a joint venture Health Maintenance Organization and multiple for-profit subsidiaries. Wells joined Baptist Health in 2006 and assumed the role of President and Chief Executive in June 2014, becoming only the third person to hold this title since World War II.
Wells earned a master’s degree in health-services administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Wells is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Arkansas Executives Forum, Young Presidents Organization, and Fifty for the Future. He serves as a director on multiple boards, including Goodwill Industries of Arkansas which he currently serves as chair, Parkway Village, Inc., the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Rotary Club of Little Rock. Troy is married to Mary Cole Wells, and they reside with their two children (Catherine and Charles) in Little Rock. He is a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
| Alonzo Williams, M.D.
Arkansas Diagnostic Center
Serving as Medical Director for the Arkansas Diagnostic Center for over 25 years, Alonzo Williams, M.D. has always been diligent in pursuing the latest gastroenterology research and techniques in order to ensure excellent care for every patient.
Dr. Williams serves as a gastroenterology consultant for hospitals throughout Little Rock. Since 1984, he has been affiliated with major health care systems such as Baptist Health, CHI St. Vincent, UAMS, Arkansas Diagnostic Center and Kanis Endoscopy Center. He is also an active member of a number of prominent professional organizations including the Arkansas State Medical Board, where he was appointed by three governors for a total of 24 consecutive years.
Dr. Williams earned medical degrees from Arkansas State University and UAMS, where he is now a clinical instructor. He established the state’s first surgery center specializing in gastroenterology in 1989, and through opening his own business, found the opportunity to develop an outreach campaign through radio, television, health fairs and frequent guest speaking in churches throughout Arkansas.
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