Arkansas Business' 25 for the Future (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Cliff Beckham, President and CEO of USA Truck, Inc. of Van Buren

A Little Rock native and son of Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, Rutherford worked for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and handled ticketing and political affairs for the 53rd Presidential Inaugural.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2003, Rutherford joined the Wright Lindsey & Jennings law firm in 2003 and served as counsel to the Gen. Wesley Clark for President Campaign, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

18. Warwick Sabin
What hasn't Warwick Sabin done? The former director of development for the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, Sabin served as communications director for U.S. Rep. Marion Berry and was a speechwriter for an ambassador. As a Marshall Scholar, he earned a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. He even paid his dues as a reporter for the Arkansas Times.

Sabin currently is associate vice president for communications at the University of Central Arkansas, which became one of the hardest jobs in the state during the flood of crises and scandals that began in mid-2008. He also took on the job of publisher of UCA's ailing Oxford American magazine, working through the financial crisis caused by an embezzlement by a now-former employee and taking four consecutive issues to press on time – for the first time in its history.

19. Todd Simmons
On Simmons Foods' Web page, Todd Simmons and his father, Mark, stand together. Mark stands in the foreground, and Todd is positioned slightly behind and above his father. The positioning is similar to the company's leadership structure. Mark Simmons is chairman and oversees the Siloam Springs company he has helped shape, while Todd Simmons is the newest generation of Simmonses to take the helm.

Todd has already made a name for himself. Mark Simmons vertically integrated the company after taking control and also initiated a series of acquisitions. Todd Simmons recently oversaw a deal to buy the broiler division of Peterson Farms of Decatur. Simmons Foods reported 2007 revenue of $652 million.

20. Susan F. "Susie" Smith
Susan F. "Susie" Smith began her career with Worthen Bank as an accountant. The graduate of Washington University at St. Louis became chief financial officer and then executive vice president after the bank had been acquired by Boatmen's Bank.

Smith moved to Metropolitan National Bank in 1997 as controller and quickly moved up the ladder at the Little Rock bank. She now holds the title of senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, overseeing many of the bank's divisions.

U.S. Banker  magazine named Smith among the Top 25 Women to Watch in 2007.

21. Warren Stephens
He has built a top-tier golf course, renovated a historic hotel, started the ball rolling on a new home for the Arkansas Travelers and runs investment bank Stephens Inc. in his spare time. He has put his own mark on the company founded by his uncle and father and continued the Stephens family's philanthropic tradition.

Because he's barely in his 50s, we expect to be watching Warren Stephens for many more years.

22. Witt Stephens Jr./Elizabeth Stephens Campbell
The brother and sister pair split with their cousin, Warren Stephens, and Stephens Inc. in 2006. The two formed Stephens Group LLC and have funded hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity ventures. During the first 12 months of operations alone, the firm exceeded $200 million in investments.



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