Marquita Little

Director of Policy & Planning

Arkansas Department of Human Services

Little Rock

Age: 28


Marquita Little

Marquita Little’s desire to work with the vulnerable has steered her naturally from working with programs that help low-income families to pushing to shape the state policies that govern those programs.

Now, as director of policy and planning for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the 28-year-old directs an office that assists DHS in establishing policy priorities and also coordinates the process for working with related groups before policy writing.

A job with a Memphis nonprofit, Youth Villages Inc., which works with troubled children and their families, propelled Little into her current DHS job in Little Rock.

In Memphis, she had watched youths showing up to face charges in court alone and encountered poverty and class segregation extremes that she had never seen back home in Little Rock.

“Memphis was sort of an eye-opener for me because everything I’d grown up with, it was sort of magnified tenfold,” she said. “I said I need to do something to change the system.”

She returned to Arkansas in 2010. With DHS, she is able to see needs in communities and take steps to improve programs there, she said.

Little also volunteers as social justice chairwoman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas and is a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.