Arkansas Business Profiles 10 Minority Business Leaders

Charles Cervantes

Owner, Crates Inc.

State Director, LULAC

Little Rock

Educating others is Charles Cervantes' passion, whether it is informing Hispanics about voting rights as state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens or spreading the word about recycling for his packaging equipment business.

Born in Texas, Cervantes moved to California at an early age. He later went into the military for three years, and he attended a two-year junior college while working as a prop constructor for the motion-picture industry.

Then he saw a newspaper ad for a paper company and quickly became one of its top technicians. Traveling with the company brought him to Arkansas. He decided to stay and start Crates, which sells packaging and recycling equipment and rebuilds old equipment, in 1991.

"I knew this area needed some good representation," he said. "My heart and energy is here in Arkansas."

It's his second term as LULAC state director on a platform of coming together and benefiting the community. Cervantes is heading the plans for a 17,000-SF medical clinic in southwest Arkansas that he said will be affordable for underserved individuals.

"I hope to leave LULAC with a very strong desire and positive outlook that they can move forward and embrace any project in the community with all their heart and build on that," he said.

Dexter Doyne


Doyne Construction Co.

North Little Rock

Dexter Doyne had no intention of returning to Arkansas after earning his bachelor's degree in motion picture production and direction from San Francisco State University in 1977.

A plot twist sent his aspirations of a filmmaking career fluttering to the cutting room floor. His father's failing health prompted Doyne to come back to Little Rock and oversee the family's rental property holdings.

Maintaining the properties led to remodeling work for others and in 1983 the founding of his namesake general contracting firm, which does work regionally.

Now 51, Doyne is recognized as a community leader and successful businessman.

Among his company's projects are the Clinton School of Public Service, water feature for the Clinton Presidential Library and installation of the Little Rock Nine Historic Monument.

Doyne is past chairman of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute and remains on its board of directors. He also serves as an Alltel Arena board commissioner and a director for Arvest Bank Group-Central Arkansas.

His awards include the Martin Luther King Jr. Salute to Greatness Business Award in 2006, Minority Enterprise Development Week's Minority Contractor of the Year in 2004 and U.S. Small Business Administration's Prime Contractor of the Year in 1995.

"I am blessed" could be his trademarked greeting.

C.J. Duvall

Executive Vice President of Human Resources

Alltel Corp.

Little Rock

Walking in a village near Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1992, C.J. Duvall met an impoverished 90-year-old woman — one of the happiest and wisest persons he had ever met — who taught him how to be successful in business and life.

"The way she lived her life was that she wanted everyone around her to be successful ... to be OK. And I learned from her that it's not always about me. And I think sometimes when we are too busy as human beings worrying about me, me, me, me, that's when we are doing the most damage because we are not taking care of anyone else," Duvall said.

The 47-year-old Duvall has built a career out of making sure others around him are successful. In his current position as the chief human resources officer for Alltel, he is responsible for 16,000 employees in 36 states and, as he likes to put it, "balancing the needs of customers with the needs of shareholders with the needs of our work force."

A native of St. Louis, Duvall moved to Little Rock in 1986 and took a personnel specialist position with Systematics, which was purchased by Alltel in 1990.

Duvall holds a bachelor's degree in behavioral science with a minor in business from Missouri Baptist College at St. Louis and a master's in industrial organizational psychology from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. He also earned a master's in theological studies from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis and is now an associate pastor at Hoover Methodist Church in Little Rock.

Regina Favors

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Pinnacle Business Solutions Inc.

Little Rock

Exercising her ability to improve someone's life is the driving factor behind Regina Favors' hectic daily schedule.

Her nearly 38-year career with Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield allows Favors to feel as if she's involved in keeping a large population healthy, while her work as a college instructor for nearly two decades has ensured its education.

"It's easy to get up in the morning when you feel like you're going to make a difference in someone's life that day," she said.

Favors, who even managed a short stint with the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Washington, D.C., just after high school, has since served in several capacities with ABCBS. Her current post is with Pinnacle Business Solutions Inc., which is the insurance provider's wholly owned subsidiary that launched in 2005.

On weekends and in the evenings, Favors enjoys "giving back to the community" as an instructor of business communication and African American studies at Philander Smith College. She began nearly 20 years ago instructing at her alma mater, Arkansas Baptist College, where she also sits on the board of trustees. She's also on the board of trustees at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Favors won the Philanthropy Award in 2005 from the American Lung Association of Arkansas.

Sybil Hampton


Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Little Rock

When Sybil Hampton came back to Little Rock to take over the leadership of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the Little Rock Central High School graduate had come full circle.

After nearly a decade at the helm of one of the state's most respected foundations, Hampton now says she's retiring on Aug. 31 to "read, volunteer and do some writing."

Since October 1996, Hampton has overseen more than $40 million in grant awards.

Before coming back home, Hampton taught elementary school in New York after getting her doctorate from Columbia Teachers College. She served as a college administrator and instructor in New York, Wisconsin and Texas and also headed a corporate foundation, where she developed programming development and strategic planning skills.

Her parents encouraged her to strive for excellence. "They always said, 'If you have the opportunity to be successful, then work to make opportunities for others to be successful.'"

Inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame last year, she also serves on the Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield's Blue & You Foundation as well as the Women's Foundation and the Arkansas Women's Leadership Forum.

Michael Joshua Sr.

President and General Manager

J.M. Products Inc.

Little Rock

As a child, Michael W. Joshua Sr. dreamed of working in aeronautics at NASA or Boeing.

After graduating with a bachelor's of science in engineering management and mechanical engineering in 1975, he went to work for California firm as a nuclear equipment project engineer and engineering administrator.

When his father, Ernest P. Joshua Sr., needed help with his company, J.M. Product Inc. of Little Rock, Michael Joshua left his job and moved to Arkansas in 1982.

Michael Joshua, 52, started out as a vice president and moved his way to president of the hair-care products manufacturer in 1996.

"I knew my father was quite an entrepreneur ... but I never thought his company would grow to the size that it has," he said.

Joshua declined to release revenue figures but said the company has 115 employees in the United States. It also has affiliate operations in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.

The NAACP awarded Joshua the Black Corporate Executive Award in 1990.

Away from the office, Joshua is a board member of Arkansas Children's Hospital, vice chairman of the American Health & Beauty Aids Institute and on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Joshua said his father — who died last September — taught him to "always manufacture a good product, give the customer what they want, keep a good relationship with your vendors and suppliers, and have faith in God. And treat people right."

Virgil Miller

Senior Vice President/Director of Community Development

Metropolitan National Bank

Little Rock

Virgil Miller says he wants to make a difference.

"I think what I do does make a difference. If one person is inspired by my life, I feel good about that," he said.

He readily admits he's in a fortunate position to be able to do what he wants to do as well as what the bank wants him to do.

Well into his 29th year in banking, the graduate of Little Rock Mills High School and Arkansas Tech University at Russellville makes himself as visible as possible as he tries to bring banking services to those who've been disenfranchised. He sees great opportunities for the bank by reaching out to low-income citizens, the elderly and minorities.

He's now creating community development partnerships as part of the bank's expansion into northwest Arkansas.

"That means bringing together a lot of programs to help someone become part of mainstream banking," he said.

He's currently chairman of the board of Arkansas Capital Corp. Group and the Little Rock Residential Housing & Public Facilities Board; he's also on the Baptist Health board of trustees, the United Way of Pulaski County board and the Public Education Foundation of Little Rock. And Miller co-chairs the Central High Integration 50th Anniversary Commission.

Erschelle Newsome


American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Region

Little Rock

Erschelle Newsome never expected to end up in Arkansas. In fact, the first time she ever set foot in the state was to interview for CEO of the American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Region serving Arkansas, southwest Missouri and Memphis.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Newsome graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in medical technology and zoology and began her career as a medical technologist. She said she has always been interested in science, but her gift was in management.

In 1982, she joined the American Red Cross in Atlanta and became the director of client services. Newsome was the CEO of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services National Testing Laboratory in Atlanta for four years before settling in Arkansas in April 2005.

In her position, Newsome oversees 342 employees, and these interactions make each day enjoyable.

"I like having a lot of different balls and managing them all," she said.

In the Greater Ozarks region, about 400 units each day and more than 119,000 units of blood are collected each year, and Newsome said the need for blood is ongoing. She spent her first year as CEO learning the business and traveling with plans to get involved in the community.

"We are moving forward and doing wonderful things," she said.

Charles Stewart

Senior Vice President

Regions Financial Corp.

Little Rock

Charles Stewart knew exactly what career he wanted to pursue when he went to college. "I went to school to become a lawyer," Stewart said. "That was my intent."

However, his career path was diverted to banking by the time he finished his coursework on a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from the University of Arkansas at Little in 1974.

He joined First National Bank in Little Rock as an audit clerk in 1971 and several months later was encouraged to enter the management training program — a move that would make him the first black bank executive in Arkansas.

"They told me that if I would commit to three years they would make it difficult for me to leave," the 57-year-old executive said. "That's been 35 years ago."

These days Stewart is senior vice president and corporate director of community development for Regions Financial Corp., the successor of First National Bank and later First Commercial Bank.

Along the way, Stewart has received numerous honors and awards for his civic and charity work and has served as the chairman of Little Rock's Heifer International since 2003.

In 1992, Stewart founded the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Paint Your Heart-Out program, which has repaired and painted more than 600 homes in Pulaski County since its inception.

"I could not have orchestrated a better career," he said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey."

Sherman Tate

Vice President of External Affairs

Alltel Corp.

Little Rock

Working in business and government over the past 36 years, Sherman Tate has blazed many trails for African-Americans in Arkansas.

"I knew I had to be exceptional at the jobs that I was given in order to create more opportunities. And I knew that was especially important for other minorities who would come after me," Tate said.

Former Gov. David Pryor asked Tate to join his administration as the head of the state office of personnel management. Tate was the first African-American to hold that position. Five years earlier, Tate became the first African-American to work on the staff of the state legislative council, where he reviewed budget and personnel recommendations on behalf of the Arkansas Legislature.

Tate then entered the private sector to work for Arkla Gas Co. (now Centerpoint Energy Inc.). When he was hired as the personnel administrator for the company's Arkansas division, he was the highest-ranking African-American in the company. He was soon promoted to vice president, the first in the company.

Tate was also the first — and still the only — African-American president of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. He was elected to that position in 1989.

Tate came to work for Alltel in 1998 and currently serves as vice president of external affairs, keeping tabs on city and state government regulations in four states. He also is a co-owner of First Choice Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac & Buick in Hope.