Heather Nelson of Seal Solar of North Little Rock and Fred Scarborough of the Arkansas Children’s Foundation in Little Rock won Executive of the Year awards, and billionaire philanthropist Johnelle Hunt of Lowell was honored for her lifetime of leadership last week at the 33rd annual Arkansas Business of the Year Awards.
Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock presents the awards each year to honor businesses, nonprofits and executives in Arkansas. Readers of Arkansas Business nominate executives and organizations for the awards, and an independent panel of judges determines the winners.
Last week’s program was a hybrid event, with limited in-person attendance divided between two banquet halls at the Robinson Center and Doubletree Hotel in downtown Little Rock and an online simulcast for ticket holders.
Nelson won the Business Executive of the Year award for her work as president of the company she founded with CEO Josh Davenport in 2012 (video). Scarborough, who was named Nonprofit Executive of the Year, has worked for Arkansas Children’s Foundation since 2005 and has been its president since 2012 (video).
Also Wednesday, Hunt was presented with the Legacy of Leadership award in honor of her decades of work with her late husband, J.B. Hunt, in creating the trucking company that bears his name and for her subsequent work with Hunt Ventures and her philanthropy (video).
For the third year, Arkansas Business partnered with the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas to present the Olivia Myers Farrell Gender Equity Award, which honors a company that has worked hard to foster equality in the workplace. The foundation partnered with the Clinton School of Public Service to create a survey to measure equality based on company metrics including financial literacy, flexibility, job skills, leadership, mentoring and resources.
The Friday Eldredge & Clark law firm of Little Rock received the award (video).
Business of the Year winners honored at the banquet were:
- The Shops at Brick City of Fort Smith in Category I (1-30 employees) — (video);
- Consolidated Admin Services of Cabot in Category II (31-55 employees) — (video);
- Entegrity of Little Rock in Category III (56-100 employees) — (video); and
- Medical Center of South Arkansas in Category IV (101-499 employees) — (video).
The Venture Center of Little Rock was named Nonprofit Organization of the Year (video).
The Arkansas Community Foundation also recognized 20 years of its Smart Corporate Giving Awards by awarding $20,000 to the Fort Smith Children’s Shelter (video).
Nominations for next year's 34th Arkansas Business of the Year Awards will be accepted from now until Oct. 29.