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2024 Leadership Arkansas Graduating Class & Testimonials

8 min read

Arthur F. Ashby
Senior Analyst, Standards and Assurance
Midcontinent Independent System Operator

Adam Bailey
Camden Operations Site Deputy
Lockheed Martin

Tawana Bailey
Director of Development
East Arkansas Family Health Center

Jordan Bearden
Senior Manager, Corporate & Community Affairs
Runway Group

Cassandra Caldwell
Arkansas Waterways Commission

Mark Calhoun
Senior Manager, Operations
Black Hills Energy

Nina Castaldi
Vice President, Director of Business Development
Simmons Bank

Col. Jason Cooper
Colonel / Commander, 189th Operations Group
Arkansas Air National Guard

Amy Cornell
Manager, State & Local Government Affairs
Tyson Foods

Nick Coulter
Marketing/Business Development Director
City of West Memphis

Matt Cramblett
Vice President, Commercial Lending
Citizens Bank

Laura Crowell
Financial Adviser
Edward Jones

Jerrad Cude
Roll Shop Supervisor
Nucor – Yamato Steel Company

Landon Downing
Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer
Citizens Bank

Martin Eggensperger
Black River Technical College

Shelby Fiegel, PCED
Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development
University of Central Arkansas

Chris Friemel
Vice President, Bridge Estimating
W&W | AFCO Steel

Dr. Daniel Fudge
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of the Ozarks

Judith Goodson
Campaign Chairman
French Hill for Arkansas

Donna Graham
Director of Industry and Community Engagement
University of Arkansas

Courtney Guppy
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Crafton Tull

Kelly Hanks
Director of Marketing
Summit Utilities

Stacee Hargett
Restaurant Operations Manager
Saracen Casino Resort

Chip Hargrave
Director, Technology Operations

Justin Hart
Director, Distribution Reliability
Entergy Arkansas

Will Hegi
Trust Officer
Community First Trust Company

Brigadier General Michael Henderson
Director of Joint Staff
Arkansas National Guard

Jen Hoss
Vice President & General Counsel
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation

Justin Johnson
Think Idea Studio (ARcare Foundation)

Lt. Col. Michael L. Krom
Commander, 188th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Arkansas Air National Guard

Jaime Land
Director of Public Relations
Arkansas Secretary of State

Brock Langford
Staff Geologist
Blackstone Construction

James Luyet
Senior Project Manager
Nabholz Construction

Allison McDaniel
Vice President, Business Development Officer
Signature Bank of Arkansas

Dr. Rheo Morris
Dean of Students
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences,
and the Arts

Mark Morrow
Vice President, Commercial Banker
Arvest Bank

Karlea Newberry
Harrison Market President
Signature Bank of Arkansas

Sheena Olson
Vice President for Government Relations
Arkansas Children’s

Marcus Orf
Workforce Development, Technical Center Director
Ozarka College

Jeff Overton
Director, Business Development
Cromwell Architects Engineers

Shawntill Puryear
Director of Community Resources
HARK at Excellerate Foundation

Ashtin Rogers
Associate Chief Nursing Officer
White River Medical Center

Kyndall Rogers
Director, Government Relations
Delta Dental of Arkansas

Tonya Sarlls
Vice President of Operations
Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce

Shelley Short
President & CEO
Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance and Chamber

Leslie Sink
Senior Manager, Stakeholder Training
Southwest Power Pool

Shealyn Sowers
Chief of Communications
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Melissa Stiles
Chief Development Officer
Museum of Discovery

Adam Storey
Director, Industrialization
Dassault Falcon Jet

Trish Villines
Executive Director, Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence
Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce

Cody Waits
Executive Director
Arkansas Workforce Connections

Jeff Whitener
Sr. Commercial Loan Officer, Regional Credit Officer
Farmers Bank and Trust

Mary Zunick
Cultural Affairs Manager
Visit Hot Springs

Testimonials Leadership Arkansas Class XVIII

“The Leadership Arkansas program is truly exceptional. Before taking part, my understanding of Arkansas was confined to my surrounding areas, and I had little awareness of the remarkable progress happening throughout our state. This program will help you realize the greatness of our state. This realization alone held immeasurable value, but the most gratifying aspect undoubtedly lies in the relationships you will establish.”
— Chip Hargrave
Director Technology Operations

“Being part of Leadership Arkansas Class XVIII has been a transformative experience. It’s not just about gaining knowledge, but also about building lasting relationships and understanding the diverse industries in Arkansas. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking personal and professional growth.”
— Jerrad Cude
Roll Shop Supervisor
Nucor-Yamato Steel Company

“Leadership Arkansas has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my career. The ability to visit and talk with so many different people across the state has given me a new perspective into what the Natural State has to offer. As a class member, you will gain an understanding of the industries and the people who are working to ensure our state excels in everything from education to steel production to aerospace technology and much more. These sessions have highlighted that there really is no better state. I would highly recommend Leadership Arkansas to anyone who wants to see the continued success of our great state!”
— Justin Hart
Director, Distribution Reliability
Entergy Arkansas

“Leadership Arkansas is hands down the most beneficial professional development program I’ve participated in. It is so inspiring and eye-opening to explore each corner of our great state alongside some of the best and brightest leaders who become lifelong friends.”
— Landon Downing
Vice President / Commercial Loan Officer
Citizens Bank

“There is no way I could have anticipated the path that the Leadership Arkansas program has taken me on. I knew that we would tour our amazing state, meet local leaders and learn about the many different industries and economic drivers we have. The agendas and organization of each session have been world-class. What I didn’t anticipate was the positive impact that my #nobetterclass Class 18 classmates have had on me. Through individual and team competitions, team building, MANY bus rides, meals and fellowships together, I’ve gained lifelong relationships with leaders across the state that I’m proud to call my friends. I could not recommend Leadership Arkansas enough to anyone considering applying!”
— Jeff Overton
Director, Business Development
Cromwell Architects Engineers

“Leadership Arkansas has not only enriched my life by increasing my knowledge, love and understanding of our diverse state, I have also made life-changing connections with people from across the state who I otherwise would not have met. All of this has helped me realize just how fortunate we are to call Arkansas HOME!”
— Mark Morrow
Vice President, Commercial Banker

“Being a part of the State Chamber/AIA’s Leadership Arkansas program has been a career highlight experience for me and one that I highly recommend to anyone looking to expand their knowledge of what makes our great state uniquely and wonderfully Arkansas.”
— Shelley Short
President & CEO
Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance

“Being a part of Leadership Arkansas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You are afforded experiences and access around the state that would not be possible except through this program. I would encourage anyone who has the chance to join the elite group of Leadership Arkansas graduates and find out for yourself. Arkansas punches well above its weight class on all fronts, and I’m proud to be both a native of this great state and graduate of such an amazing program.”
— Adam Bailey
Camden Operations Site Deputy
Lockheed Martin

“Being a member of Class 18, #nobetterclass, has been an honor — to be amongst some of the brightest leaders in Arkansas while also learning more about this awesome state was a humbling experience. Ultimately, the bonds and relationships forged with classmates will last forever, not to mention all of the fun had along the way.”
— Col. Jason R. Cooper
Commander, 189th Operations Group, Arkansas Air National Guard

“Through this program, I have learned how to be an effective leader. I’ve learned skills to help me lead my team with passion and understanding. I have gained a deeper understanding and love for the state of Arkansas with every stop made. Along the journey, I visited places I never knew existed right here in the Natural State. If you are one who loves to learn, this program is for you! Leadership Arkansas is the place to be!”
— Tawana Bailey
Director of Development
East Arkansas Family Health Center

“Initially, I considered myself well-versed in all that Arkansas had to offer, but I quickly realized how much more there was to learn. Through this program, I embarked on a journey of personal and professional growth, one that challenged me to expand my knowledge and evolve as an Arkansan, an individual and a leader. I wholeheartedly encourage others to apply and become part of this transformative program.”
— Leslie Sink
Senior Manager, Stakeholder Training
Southwest Power Pool

“The Leadership Arkansas program is one of the best commitments I’ve made personally and professionally. We had the opportunity to meet and speak with industry leaders, community developers, Cabinet secretaries, educators, farmers, conservationists and even college football and softball coaches! Before participating in the Leadership Arkansas program, I thought I knew what my home state had to offer, but now I know I have the best picture of who we are and what the future looks like, and I couldn’t be more excited!”
— Jaime Land
Director of Public Relations
Arkansas Secretary of State

“As an Arkansas transplant, I went into Leadership Arkansas just hoping to learn anything new about the state I now call my home. I had no idea that I would graduate nine months later and be amazed at the number of industries within our state and the numerous opportunities for native Arkansans and transplants alike. I would recommend Leadership Arkansas to those hoping to learn more about what Arkansas has to offer, for those who would like to improve on how we recruit employees to Arkansas or to those who simply want to increase their networking skills and broaden their circle.”
— Rheo Morris, Ph.D.
Dean of Students
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences & the Arts

“Being a part of this program has been an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. As I conclude this program, I find myself filled with an even greater sense of pride in calling myself an Arkansan. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone holding leadership positions and possessing a genuine love for our state to seriously consider applying to this program. I can assure you that the experience will surpass your expectations.”
— Laura Crowell, CPWA
Financial Adviser
Edward Jones

“This program is so incredibly well planned and executed. I have a deeper appreciation for and understanding of our infrastructure, education, state government, military and defense industrial base, and manufacturing in Arkansas as a direct result of my participation in this program. The knowledge and experiences that I’ve gained through Leadership Arkansas have proven well worth the time investment, but that is not even the best part. I believe that the relationships that I’ve built over the last 10 months will continue to be impactful long after graduation.”
— Brig. Gen. Michael Henderson
Arkansas National Guard

“Being a part of Leadership Class XVIII has been an immeasurably rewarding experience. From the knowledge I’ve gained regarding industry across the state to the friendships developed with fellow classmates, it far exceeded any expectations I had. The program is a great balance between introduction to companies throughout the state, learning experiences about what it means to be a leader, networking and fun.”
— Karlea Newberry
Harrison Market President
Signature Bank of Arkansas

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