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Nichola Driver

Nichola Driver, 38

Associate Professor & Executive Director of the Office of Field Service

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

Little Rock

Professional achievements
• Research and evaluation in women’s health, health equity and ways to support families.
• Starting the new Clinton Impact Center to train and provide applied research evaluators to nonprofits and research centers in Arkansas.

Community involvement
Consulting on applied research and evaluation, such as identifying the needs of Alzheimer’s caregivers in Arkansas, understanding the low utilization rates of Medicaid Wellness Visits among older Arkansans, and determining the impact of children’s savings accounts in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Professional “aha” moment
“When I realized I could shape my career by simply asking for what I want. As women, we are often afraid of speaking up for what we want or saying what works best for us. The answer may be ‘no’ or ‘not right now’ — and that’s OK. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know what could have been possible.”

Career dream as a child
“Forensic psychologist.”

Learning from a mentor
“I’ve learned the most from my mom. She taught me that life is about balance. Work hard, but be sure to have fun, and be sure to rest. Rest. Work. Play. Pray. When life isn’t going well, check to see which of these things is taking too much or too little of your time. Then you’ll find your solution.”

How you define success
“I define success as living a balanced life, where I can give my best to family, work, friends and community. It’s not always easy, but it’s what I’m striving for currently.”

One word to describe you
“Multitasker.”

Most fulfilling career moment
“Speaking on the same stage as President Clinton prior to our graduation ceremony in 2022.”

First job and lesson learned
“My first real job was as a hostess and then a server at a local restaurant in Conway. I waited tables for eight years, paying my way through college and graduate school. It taught me that hard work pays off — if you give good service, you make good tips (usually). It also taught me to treat others with dignity and respect, no matter the situation. Even if they just spilled a drink in your lap. I think everyone should have to work in the service industry at least once. It makes you a better person.”

Professional inspiration
“I’m inspired every day by the students and alumni at the Clinton School. It’s very fulfilling to train the next generation of public service leaders and then watch them apply those new skills to bring about positive social change in our state and beyond.”

Top challenge facing Arkansas
“I’m particularly concerned by the findings from the recent Arkansas Civic Health Index report (published by Clinton School faculty Dr. Robert Richards and Dr. Chul Park) that notes we have the lowest voter registration and voter turnout of any other state. It also reports that we have low levels of trust in our government, news media and other people. We have a lot of challenges in this state, but solutions start with us trusting one another, talking to one another and trusting in our civic processes.”

Advice for future 40 Under 40 honorees
“Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come. You’re now doing the things that once seemed unattainable.”

Most valuable lesson
“Someone once told me that it takes five years to become truly good at something. Before you quit something (a job, a hobby, a skill, whatever), give it more time. Developing skills takes practice. I always tell my students, ‘Sucking at something is the first step to being really good at it.’”

Making Arkansas more attractive to young professionals
“For my generation, at least, I think we want ways to connect and build community that are also family-friendly. I’d spend a lot of money at a cafe/restaurant/brewery with an outdoor patio and a playground. Win-win-win.”

Best thing about Arkansas
“I love Arkansas’ natural beauty and its quick and easy access to amazing parks, camping, rivers, lakes and hiking trails.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years
“I hope to still be teaching and impacting our state in a positive way.”

Advice for your 18-year-old self
“Keep doing what you’re doing! You will like where you end up.”

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40 Under 40

June 10, 2025

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