Sylvia Murchison, who spent a number of years working in the for-profit sector, said moving into nonprofits was a conscious decision. Quoting a friend and former colleague at Goodwill, “You can either work for a company to make someone else rich, or you can work for a company to enrich someone’s life.”
And enriching lives is what Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is all about. The nonprofit’s stated mission is “changing lives through education, training and employment.” It provides job training programs, career services and other initiatives to help Arkansans overcome barriers to employment. Murchison, who has worked at Goodwill for the last 10 years, noted in particular its re-entry program for formerly imprisoned people as well as Arkansas’ only high school for students 19 and older to earn a high school diploma.
Murchison’s management philosophy is simple: “I believe in hiring people who are good at what they do and let them do it. I always want my employees to thrive, and they will if given the room to do just that.”
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas’ average annual revenue growth rate in the past three years totaled 6.09%, better than average for Goodwills in North America.
Murchison is proud Goodwill Industries of Arkansas never closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We worked through it,” she said, noting that it was one of just a few locations across the nation that didn’t shut down during the health emergency.
As for what keeps her going during challenging times, she said her father, a factory worker in Cabot and single dad to six children, provided the example. “It goes back to what I saw with my own dad. You get up and go to work every day. You do the best you can. You always try to do the right thing.”