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Janet Harris Named Next CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

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The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Monday announced that Chief Strategy Officer Janet Harris has been picked as the nonprofit’s next executive director and chief operating officer.

The move is effective April 1. Harris succeeds Marta Loyd, who is retiring at the end of the month after leading the organization for eight years.

Harris has worked for the institute since 2016, holding roles as director of programs and chief programs and marketing officer. 

As chief strategy officer for the past two years, Harris has built and executed services aligned with the nonprofit’s mission to continue Rockefeller’s collaborative approach to creating transformational change, the nonprofit said in a news release. That includes developing creative marketing and technology strategies to tell the story of the former Arkansas governor and the institute’s impact. Harris has created educational programs that draw on Rockefeller’s legacy, such as the Institute’s Walks with the Governor workshop.

“In her previous roles, Janet proved a capable and forward-thinking leader who expanded the depth and reach of the Institute in alignment with Gov. Rockefeller’s collaborative vision — making her the right choice to be the Institute’s next executive director,” said Dr. Stephanie Gardner, provost and chief strategy officer at the UAMS and chair of the institute’s board of directors. “I look forward to working with her to advance the Institute’s mission of nurturing transformational change.”

The board of directors picked Harris after a national search for Loyd’s replacement. Before joining the institute, she spent 20 years as a public administration professional in Arkansas, holding several executive leadership roles in state government.

She’ll oversee about 60 full-time employees as head of the Rockefeller Institute.

University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt called Harris “the perfect leader to continue the progress of the Institute,” which is located at Rockefeller’s adopted home atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton.

“The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas and I look forward to working with Ms. Harris and the wonderful team she has around her,” Bobbitt said in the release.

Harris holds a master’s in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a bachelor’s in public administration from the University of Central Arkansas, where she also played varsity basketball. She was named the Distinguished Alumnus for the UCA Department of Political Science in 2016 and is an alumna of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Arkansas, Class XI.

Harris is currently pursuing an Executive Certificate in nonprofit leadership from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“Carrying forward Winthrop Rockefeller’s legacy of convening on Petit Jean Mountain is a tremendous honor,” Harris said. “I look forward to leading our organization into the future as we offer the place, people, and process to help groups come together and effectively collaborate on important issues.”

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