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Steve Colley

Steve Colley, 39

Founder & Principal Consultant

Waypoint College Consulting LLC

Little Rock

Professional achievements
• Captain, U.S. Marine Corps.
• Coauthor, “Chinese Strategy and Military Modernization: A Comparative Analysis.”
• Staff Member, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
• Founded Waypoint College Consulting LLC in 2021.

Community involvement
Director, Mijo Program at Mamas Unidas LR; Arkansas government relations chair, Southern Association for College Admission Counseling; college adviser, Service to School; Arkansas chapter president, U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association.

Most fulfilling career moment
“Watching the president sign into law a piece of legislation I initiated in the U.S. Senate that helped widows and Gold Star family members with compensation was an incredibly fulfilling experience to see the impact on thousands of families.” 

Advice for future 40 Under 40 honorees
“Lead with service in mind. Embrace leadership as a chance to effect change. Stay principled and open to new ideas and build strong community ties. Remember, true leadership is measured by your impact on others.”

First job and lesson learned
“My first job was working on a ranch in central Arkansas, where my days were spent cleaning horse stalls, feeding cows, mending fences and performing any manual labor the owner required. Surrounded by some of the hardest-working and most genuine people I’ve ever known, the ranch hands taught me invaluable lessons about hard work, community and the power of listening. These early experiences were filled with humbling work and instilled in me a deep respect for those who are the backbone of our communities. This hard work taught me that true leadership means serving others with humility — lessons I carried with me as a Marine Corps officer and to this day with my ongoing work for our community.”

Learning from a mentor
“As a young second lieutenant in the Marine Corps serving in an infantry battalion in Afghanistan at the height of the war, I was thrust into leading logistics operations after my superior was fired. I was given the overwhelming task of supporting more than 1,000 Marines across 19 battle positions as the youngest officer. During this critical period, Maj. Barnhart quickly took me under his wing. His guidance was transformative, teaching me the power of decisiveness and the importance of swift action over waiting for perfect solutions. Maj. Barnhart exemplified bold leadership and instilled in me the values of progress through persistence. These principles of adaptability and decisive action have deeply influenced my approach to business and public service, shaping my career and impact.”

Most valuable lesson
“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is the importance of resilience and adaptability. Whether in combat in the military or navigating the complexities of public policy, the ability to persist through challenges and adapt to changing circumstances is crucial. This has taught me that success often comes not just from having a strong vision, but also from being flexible and responsive to the needs of the community. Embracing change and learning from each experience are vital for driving meaningful progress that can truly serve the public good.”

Professional inspiration
“Two quotes come to mind that have inspired me throughout my professional career: 1) Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech — ‘it’s not the critic who counts …’ and 2) Kennedy’s quote, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’”

Top challenge facing Arkansas
“The top challenge facing Arkansas today is enhancing economic opportunities while addressing educational disparities. As a state with diverse economic regions, from rural agricultural areas to growing urban centers, the disparity in educational resources and opportunities often results in uneven economic development. By investing in comprehensive education reform and vocational training, Arkansas can equip its citizens with the skills needed for the modern workforce. This strategy not only strengthens local economies but also helps improve the overall quality of life across the state.”

Professional “aha” moment
“My professional ‘aha’ moment came while facing the challenges of starting my business in Little Rock. As a member of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, I realized that I was not the only one encountering steep challenges, but other small businesses that are crucial for job creation, innovation and cultural richness were encountering difficulties too. This experience deepened my commitment to enhancing support for these vital community pillars, ensuring that the path to entrepreneurship in Little Rock is both accessible and empowering. This has driven my efforts to help improve resources and support systems for local entrepreneurs.”

Career dream as a child
“As a child, I dreamed of becoming a movie director, crafting stories that could inspire and transform audiences. This early passion for storytelling has shaped my approach to public service, where I aim to empower and uplift every individual’s narrative.”

Making Arkansas more attractive to young professionals
“To attract young professionals to Arkansas, invest in urban development, technological infrastructure, cultural scenes and affordable housing. Foster a startup-friendly environment with innovation incentives.”

Best thing about Arkansas
“Arkansas’ greatest asset is undoubtedly its people, known for their warm hospitality, strong community spirit and resilient character. I cherish these qualities as a proud Arkansan, not just for myself.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years
“In 10 years, I aim to serve Arkansas in a broader leadership role, spearheading initiatives to bridge educational gaps and enhance economic development, ensuring Arkansas becomes a beacon of innovation and opportunity.”

Advice for your 18-year-old self
“I would tell my 18-year-old self to embrace every challenge as an opportunity to grow and to listen. Understand that true leadership is about service and the most impactful leaders are those who empower others. Invest deeply in your community, for it will be the bedrock of your successes and a constant source of inspiration. Lastly, remain open to learning from everyone and every situation — education is a lifelong journey that goes far beyond the classroom. Your dedication to these principles will not only guide you to meaningful achievements but also enrich the lives of those around you.”

How you define success
“I define success not just by the achievements we accumulate, but by the impact we have on the lives of others. True success comes from empowering communities, fostering education and building pathways that allow every individual to thrive. It’s about leaving behind a legacy of improvement and opportunity that resonates beyond our own lifetimes. As someone deeply committed to education and public service, I measure my success by how well I enable others to realize their potential and achieve their dreams, ensuring that progress is a shared journey.”

One word to describe you


40 Under 40

June 10, 2025

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