For more than a decade, it’s been our distinct honor to acknowledge the brilliance and expertise of women in Arkansas. We do so in March as it’s National Women’s History Month.

 

We proudly present 12 women of varied backgrounds who have realized their career aspirations and, along the way, changed the lives of those in their communities for the better. This makes each of them powerful. While their areas of occupation are diverse, their passions are impactful and have driven them to become trailblazers in their own rights.

Ladies and gentlemen, we introduce the 2015 Class of Powerful Women.


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Cynthia Weisenfels Pruitt / photo by Janet Warlick

Cynthia Weisenfels Pruitt

Associate Principal/Project Architect
Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

Cynthia Weisenfels Pruitt, a cum laude graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s architecture program, has practiced architecture for 18 years. She specializes in the management of complex projects for both private and public sector clients, and applies her extensive know-how in the area of building-information technology.

Her current work portfolio includes two of Little Rock’s highest-profile projects: the renovation of Robinson Auditorium downtown and the construction of a new hangar at Dassault Falcon Jet’s facility at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. Her past projects include Mercy Orthopedic Hospital in Fort Smith; the Riggs CAT Service Center in Texarkana; Southwest Power Pool’s corporate headquarters in Little Rock; and facilities at Southern Arkansas University, Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas.

Pruitt and her husband, Scott — an architect with his own practice — have a son and two daughters.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Cindy.

Hometown: Scranton, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? Even as child, I was attracted to building things and learning how they work. As an architect, I am able to be creative while solving challenges every day. I also didn’t know any female architects, which attracted me to the career even more.

First big break: My first big break was with a firm in Chicago where, as an intern, I was asked to step up and play a major part in designing, detailing and documenting the exterior of a large hospital addition. It was the most challenging and tiring year of my life — but I learned an incredible amount about the business and, more importantly, about myself.

One word that describes you: Tenacious.

Hobby: Unfortunately, with work and three children, life doesn’t leave me much time for hobbies these days, but my husband would argue that building is my hobby. If I am not repairing, restoring or repainting our historic Quapaw Quarter home, I am building something with the children.

What you love about what you do: Making a difference in the built world and shaping the spaces that shape our lives.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Raising my three beautiful children while setting the example that anyone can accomplish anything if they are determined and work hard enough. I think they learn more from our examples than they ever could from a million of our words.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? That I once hiked to the upper rim of an active volcano.

As a child, I spent hours … taking apart and re-assembling broken appliances — they were like a puzzle to me. I always wanted to see if I could put them back together correctly. My dad would save old toasters, hair dryers and any little appliance that was no longer working for my special projects. I can remember many hours sitting at the kitchen table with a screwdriver trying to reconstruct the pieces and driving my father crazy — and yes, there were always extra parts at the end!

What is your personal motto? You only fail when you stop trying!

What is left on your “bucket list?” What’s not? My bucket list gets longer every day I am on this planet. I hope I never get to the point where I feel I have done and seen everything.


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Melinda Markus / photo by Janet Warlick

Melinda Markus

CEO
Markus Homes, Inc.

A passion at an early age to see projects from start to finish developed into a career path for Melinda Markus of Markus Homes Inc. Markus’ love for people and the outdoors have crafted a perfect fit for a career in construction. “I have always had an aptitude for structural and creative design,” she said.

Markus sought out a university with a degree program in construction and design, which took her to the University of Missouri for her formal education. Markus Homes was founded more than 20 years ago when women in construction were a rarity. This quickly became a strong positive as clients felt they had “that female touch and understanding” that added to their home-building experience.

Q&A

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? It has been my aptitude and desire from an early age. I have always loved the process of learning what makes things work.

First big break: In the beginning of my career, I was contracted to build two large custom homes on the Chenal golf course, a custom home for a very talented fashion designer, and almost 20 years ago, Entergy moved many of their executives to Little Rock. I had the privilege of building many of their homes. I received a great education in energy conservation in construction, which I have used throughout my career.

One word that describes you: Do I have to use one? Positive energy.

Hobby: Spending time with my family and friends is at the top of the list. Most of my best friends are people I met while building their homes.

Volunteer work: I am on the advisory board at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for the Construction Management and Civil Engineering Department — what a great career path for students. This department has some of the most enthusiastic professors I have ever met.

What you love about what you do: I love driving through the neighborhoods of Little Rock and seeing the many homes I have built over the years. I have always said, “I want to build homes, not houses.” What a great feeling to know I have been a part of this process.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I was selected to build and design two Symphony Designer Showcase Homes in the Hickory Grove neighborhood in Little Rock.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I am a Segway enthusiast. I will ride them at any opportunity.

As a child, I spent hours … doing anything outdoors.

What is your personal motto? Always give 110 percent.

What is left on your “bucket list?” Cruise, beach, lake, cruise, beach, lake, cruise, beach, lake … I would like to rent a yacht for four-to-eight couples for a week in the Caribbean.


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Mary Margaret Satterfield / photo by Janet Warlick

Mary Margaret Satterfield

Director of Toad Suck Daze and Events
Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

Mary Margaret Satterfield serves as director of Toad Suck Daze and Events for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. She has 13 years of experience planning and organizing Chamber of Commerce events, including Toad Suck Daze and the chamber’s Annual Meeting and Business Expo, among others. In 2013, Satterfield earned designation as a certified festival and events executive through the International Festivals and Events Association. She received her certification in nonprofit organization management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

A Conway native, Satterfield attended Louisiana State University, where she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in marketing. She is a current board member and past president of the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association and serves on the Faulkner County Fair Board, Women’s Inc. Editorial Board and the Ozark Mission Project Steering Committee. Satterfield is also a former board member of the Heart of Arkansas Tourism Association and the Arkansas Travel Council.

Q&A

Childhood nicknames: Mar, Meggy Margy, Sudie, Grace.

What attracted you to your career? In 2000, I had the opportunity to participate in a two-week, study-abroad class on the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. During class, we met with sponsors, organizers and athletes and toured all the facilities. I was hooked on wanting to work in events, especially large events, from then on.

First job: My first job was filing charge slips for my dad at Satterfield Fuels. My first big break into events was my original job at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce doing marketing and tourism. I started with Toad Suck Daze right out of college and haven’t stopped.  //  One word that describes you: Independent.

Hobby: Travel, reading, going to the movies and watching my nephews play baseball.

Volunteer work: Ozark Mission Project Steering Committee and camp director.

What you love about what you do: I get to work with and meet many great people. My co-workers and the volunteers on the Toad Suck Daze committee are a big part of why I love my job. I also love to be at the event. Events have an energy, and being able to see people experience the festival and have a great time makes all the hard work worth it.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Completing my certified festival and event executive designation has been one of my accomplishments that has made me most proud. I am one of only 300 or so people across the nation to have graduated the program, and it took several years of hard work to meet that goal.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m pretty handy with a Skilsaw and hammer and can build stairs, handrails and a wheelchair ramp.

As a child, I spent hours … dancing, playing dress-up, reading, riding my bike and drawing.

What is your personal motto? I’m not sure it is a motto, but I always try to get all the information possible and make the best plan possible. However, when something goes wrong with the plan, just trust your instincts and roll with it.

What is left on your “bucket list?” I’d like to visit the Greek Isles, Italy and Egypt; see all of the Oscar-nominated films before the awards show; and swim with seals.


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Robin E. Bowen / photo by Liz Chrisman

Robin E. Bowen

President
Arkansas Tech University

Robin E. Bowen, Ph.D., is the first woman to serve as president of a four-year public college in Arkansas. The Arkansas Tech Board of Directors selected her in spring 2014. Bowen came to Arkansas Tech University from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, where she was executive vice president and provost. She earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and her Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in higher education administration from Texas Tech University.

An occupational therapist who became an academic and then an administrator, her career has carried her through Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas. Bowen has been recognized for excellence on numerous occasions, including the Teaching Award at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center; the Joyce Jones Teaching Excellence Award at Kansas University, four times; and the Missouri Governor’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., where she served as an instructor and administrator, established the Robin Bowen Occupational Therapy Student Leadership Award in her honor as well.

Bowen has donated her time to a number of nonprofits, including the United Neighbors of Fitchburg, the Topeka YMCA and the Kansas Children’s Service League. She and her husband, Doug, have a son and two daughters.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Chirp.

Hometown: I grew up between Joplin, Mo., and Galena, Kan., in a rural area off Old Highway 66.

What attracted you to your career? It has been more of an evolution than an attraction. The presidency was the next step, and I felt I was capable and ready.

First job: My brother and I had a fireworks stand when I was 12.

One word that describes you: Driven.

Hobby: I am a warm-glass artist. I make glass beads using a 2,000-plus degree torch and a kiln; I incorporate the beads into jewelry.

Volunteer work: Most recently, my volunteer work has related to economic and community developments though I have, and will always have, a commitment to the foster care system and to racial justice.

What you love about what you do: Helping people better not only their lives, but also their families’ lives for generations to come.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I am most proud of the people my young adult children have become.

As a child, I spent hours … observing people at my dad and grandpa’s service station.

What is your personal motto? I borrowed my motto from Abraham Lincoln: “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

What is left on your “bucket list?” To become a foster parent again.


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Mary Beth Ringgold / photo by Janet Warlick

Mary Beth Ringgold

Restaurateur

Mary Beth Ringgold made her way to Little Rock through her work with Anderson’s Cajun’s Wharf in the early 1980s. She started in its Knoxville, Tenn., location while attending the University of Tennessee. She was a minority partner with the group from 1987 until the restaurants were sold to Landry’s Seafood, a Texas-based seafood chain, in 1993. After that time, Ringgold worked for Quality Products International, which sold American and European products in Russia.

Following that “two-and-a-half year traveling adventure,” Ringgold returned to Little Rock and started a consulting company. But her real passion was the restaurant business and what she wanted most was to work again with her best pals. So she assembled a new partnership group with her sister Sandy Chance and longtime friends James Willis and Marilyn Green. Together, in 1997, they created Capers and within two years purchased Cajun’s Wharf, where she serves as acting general manager. In 2007 the group created the Copper Grill, located in the 300 Third Tower in downtown Little Rock.

Ringgold has served the restaurant industry in many volunteer capacities as well. She is a past president of the Arkansas Restaurant Association, and served on its board for more than 25 years. She is a past board member of the National Restaurant Association and was a member of the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission for nine years, chairing it for five. She currently serves on the Arkansas Board of Health and Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

Q&A

Nickname: I really do not have a nickname, though some call me M.B.

Hometown: I was born in White Sulpher Springs, but grew up in Beckley, West Virginia.

What attracted you to your career? I actually grew up in the restaurant industry. My father had restaurants, and both of my grandfathers were in the restaurant business. I started with Cajun’s Wharf as a part-time bookkeeper. I had natural instincts for the business; I developed a very strong work ethic and quickly demonstrated a good grasp of the numbers side of the operations. After a while, it just seemed like a genuine fit.

One word to describe me: Looking at the past and looking forward, I would say that I am fortunate and optimistic.

Hobby: I love going to the shooting range and playing in the dirt. I manage to grow a variety of fresh herbs, which is kind of funny, as I can’t seem to keep a houseplant alive.

What I love about what I do: I have had the good fortune to meet a variety of interesting people and learn many best practices and life lessons from them. Also, I now enjoy being in the position to mentor people and share my experiences with others. I love to make “successes” with our guests and our employees.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I love the company culture we have developed. Many people have worked with us for a large portion of their lives … some have gone on to become doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs; others have kids who work with us. There is something special in that.

One fact about you that others would be surprised to know: I love to duck hunt.

As a child I spent hours … playing tennis and practicing musical instruments.

What is your personal motto? In our business, it is very important to exceed the expectations of our guests, so it’s: “The answer is yes, let’s figure out how to do it.”

What’s on your bucket list: I would like to learn to play the guitar and maybe even the cello.


Korto Momolu-Briggs / photo by Sara Blancett Reeves

Korto Momolu-Briggs / photo by Sara Blancett Reeves

Korto Momolu-Briggs

Fashion designer and stylist

Inspired by her African roots, Liberian-born fashion designer and stylist Korto Momolu-Briggs (pronounced CUT-toe MOE-moe-loo), who now lives in Little Rock, is stamping her global brand in fashion with a women’s wear and accessory line that celebrates the essence of her rich heritage through the use of traditional, luxury fabrics.

A graduate of L’Academies des Couturiers Design Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, Momolu-Briggs relocated to Canada in 1990 following the coup in her Liberian homeland. Advancing her field experience, she auditioned for and earned a spot on the fifth season of Bravo’s Emmy-nominated show “Project Runway.” Throughout the season, Momolu-Briggs’ primary, signature use of color and diversity in print, style and presentation made her one to watch. Her feisty spirit resonated well with the audience, earning her the coveted “fan favorite” vote and, ultimately, a placement of first runner-up.

Career highlights include headlining countless fashion shows worldwide in places like Jamaica, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Honduras, Canada and Liberia. Momolu-Briggs was commissioned by Alice Walton to design uniforms for the Crystal Bridges Museum staff based on her ability to design for people of all shapes and sizes. She also served as the “Cheerios ambassador” for the Shoprite Partners in Caring “Knock Out Hunger” campaign and continues to contribute her time and talents to countless charitable and philanthropic endeavors.

Named as one of the Top 5 designers to watch by New York Magazine, she has been featured in numerous international and national publications including Elle, Us Weekly, Marie Claire, Arise and Essence. Her television appearances include but are not limited to “Project Runway All Stars 3,” Arise TV, BET’s “Rip the Runway,” BET’s “Lens on Talent” and “All on the Line.” Momolu-Briggs is married with two children.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Babe; I’m still called this by my family and friends.

Hometown: Monrovia, Liberia.

What attracted you to your career? I’ve always had a love for the arts. Fashion came naturally in high school, and an awesome mentor helped me see it could become a real career.

First job and first big break: My first job was at a local fabric store in Ottawa, Canada … my first big break was “Project Runway,” Season 5.

One word that describes you: Unbreakable.

Hobby: I love to read.

Volunteer work: I mentor high school and college students nationwide who are interested in going into fashion, work with the Timmons Arts Foundation and coproduce Curbside Couture at the Clinton Library with Connie Fails.

What you love about what you do: The freedom to be me without boundaries or explanations.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I’m most proud of the fact that I didn’t give up. I didn’t let fear keep me from seeing my today.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? Dance was my first love. I continue to teach locally with a young girls group called Young Stars/Out Loud Artistry.

As a child, I spent hours … sketching, doodling and reading.

What is your personal motto? Dream. Believe. Have Faith … Repeat!

What is left on your “bucket list?” To dress Michelle Obama before she leaves office, visit South Africa and Thailand and FINALLY go on a honeymoon!


Amy Dunn Johnson / photo by Sara Blancett Reeves

Amy Dunn Johnson / photo by Sara Blancett Reeves

Amy Dunn Johnson

Executive Director
Arkansas Access to Justice Commission & Foundation

A lawyer who also holds a psychology degree, Amy Dunn Johnson leads the nonprofit Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, which coordinates efforts to ensure all Arkansans have access to the civil court system, as well as its attendant foundation, which awards grants to support equal access to justice.

Johnson is also a health advocate; she helped found the Harmony Health Clinic, which serves low-income, uninsured Pulaski County residents. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and as a consumer representative for the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative Workgroup.

Johnson’s recognitions include a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader Award; the Arkansas Bar Association’s Lawyer Community Legacy Award; and the Bowen School of Law’s Outstanding Alumna for Public Service. She also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of IOLTA Programs.

She and her husband, state Sen. David Johnson, have three daughters.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Dunn-Dee in high school.

Hometown: Fort Smith, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? The ability to use my legal training to create systemic change.

First job: My first job was making tickets, hangtags and license plate stickers at Weldon, Williams & Lick, Inc., in Fort Smith.

One word that describes you: Tenacious.

Hobby: Cooking.

Volunteer work: I serve on the boards of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, the United Methodist Conference, the First United Methodist Church in Little Rock and the National Association of IOLTA Programs. I am also active in the Arkansas Bar Association and do pro bono legal work.

What you love about what you do: My work is challenging and varied — I do everything from updating our website to fundraising and outreach. I also get to work with some of the most creative, passionate and accomplished people in the legal profession.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Being the mom of three girls who are growing up as daughters of parents who are equally involved in raising them.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I became certified as an open-water scuba diver at age 11.

As a child, I spent hours … reading every book I could get my hands on.

What is your personal motto? It is one that I’ve had to work at following: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

What is left on your “bucket list?” Too many things to list … among them are traveling to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and to the Holy Land, taking my family on a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.


Susan Noll Hanrahan / photo by Kim Boyd Vickrey

Susan Noll Hanrahan / photo by Kim Boyd Vickrey

Susan Noll Hanrahan

Higher Education Administrator
Arkansas State University

Susan Noll Hanrahan, Ph.D., is a professor of physical therapy, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions and interim dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science at Arkansas State University. Hanrahan holds degrees from the University of Kansas — a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and a master’s degree in public administration — and a Ph.D. in health education from Temple University. She completed summer work at the University of Michigan in epidemiology. Her research interests are in adolescent health, women’s health and health policy.

Hanrahan is a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Allied Health. She has held national leadership positions with the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions in Washington, D.C., and the Allied Health Research Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. In Arkansas, she serves as past chair of the steering committee for the Regional Board Area Health Education Centers (AHECs); is a past chair of the Health Policy Board, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, in Little Rock; and served on the Governor’s Roundtable for Health Care. Hanrahan is the governor’s representative on the Tobacco Settlement Commission, serving as its chair. She was also a member of the State Healthcare Workforce Planning Task Force and was appointed by Mayor Harold Perrin to the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Commission for the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Hanrahan also holds or has held positions on various boards in the Jonesboro community including: the Center on Aging NE; Craighead County Community Foundation; St. Bernards Women’s Health; Our Kids Count Coalition; YMCA; American Heart Association; Regional Chamber of Commerce; Delta Symphony Orchestra; Women’s Discovery Center; Hispanic Community Services Inc.; Residential Housing and Health Care Facilities; City Water & Light; Flo and Phil Jones Hospice House Steering Committee; and NEA Clinic Charitable Foundation. She was on the founding board of five of those organizations.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: My dad calls me Suz.

Hometown: I grew up in Mooney Creek, Kan., between Atchison and Leavenworth.

What attracted you to your career? The ability to develop and implement programs that make a difference while working in an ever-changing and challenging environment.

First job: Freshman summer in high school, detasseling corn for Pioneer Seed Company. I was the foreman of a 30-plus member, all-girl crew.

One word that describes you: Passionate.

Hobby: I love to hike.

What you love about what you do: Working with very talented and creative people and watching them personally and professionally develop while we get things accomplished.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? In 2007, I had the opportunity to establish the Beck PRIDE Center for America’s Wounded Veterans in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Arkansas State. I consider this the most significant and signature program of my career.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I played competitive softball until age 35.

As a child, I spent hours … learning how to work and play hard growing up on the farm and hearing my mother say “go outside and play.”

What is left on your “bucket list?” Travel where I want, read what I want and exercise when I want.


Brigette Williams / photo by Ashlee Nobel

Brigette Williams / photo by Ashlee Nobel

Brigette Williams

Regional Director of Communications
American Red Cross

Brigette Williams works as regional director of communication for the American Red Cross, serving Oklahoma and Arkansas, the largest and most disaster-prone region in the country due to tornadoes, floods and ice storms, as well as man-made disasters and residential fires.
With daily, around-the-clock disaster responses to these crises, Williams leads the communication strategy that keeps the public informed and prepared with Red Cross safety information distributed through traditional and social media.

A member of the American National Red Cross Advance Public Affairs Team, Williams also serves as a spokesperson to national and international media, including The Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News, BBC, Associated Press and Al Jazeera English during large-scale disasters. She has deployed to tornado responses in Arkansas and Mississippi; hurricane responses on the East Coast and Gulf Coast; the 2013 Scott County flash floods; and the 2010 Camp Albert Pike flash flood.

Prior to joining the American Red Cross, Williams, a nationally award-winning publisher, directed the Arkansas Business Publishing Group (ABPG) niche magazine division.

Q&A

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? My career track was journalism; the ability to interview people directly involved in whatever the situation is fascinating and fed my desire to understand. Fortunately, I’m still able to feed that curiosity.

First job or first big break: I worked at Spectrum, an edgy independent weekly. Olivia Farrell, CEO of ABPG, called one day and offered me a job, which eventually lead to more meaningful work with numerous niche magazines and talented people.

One word that describes you: Grateful.

Hobby: Being a foodie. I love cooking and finding great local dining places and traveling by the back roads.

Volunteer work: I love helping out where needed, when I can.

What you love about what you do: I have the privilege of working with smart, dedicated people who will literally work around the clock to care for neighbors in distress after disaster. I never cease to be blown away by the love they share to make others feel comforted and safe.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Personally, watching my kids continue to grow into amazing people. Professionally, being flexible and open to opportunities to continue to learn.

What is your personal motto? Things happen for a reason. Instead of fighting when it’s not what we want, stop to listen and trust your inner voice.

What is left on your “bucket list?” I hope a lot!


Jessica DeLoach Sabin / photo by Janet Warlick

Jessica DeLoach Sabin / photo by Janet Warlick

Jessica DeLoach Sabin

Political Strategist

Jessica DeLoach Sabin has experience working in the nonprofit, arts and political fields. She earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) in liberal arts, theater arts and political science, as well as a certificate in philanthropy and voluntary service from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Currently, she provides strategic consulting for clients, and she is also senior director of policy and media for the Center for a Better South, based in Charleston,S.C. She is pursuing a master’s degree at UALR’s Clinton School of Public Service.

Named Young Democrat of the Year by the Democratic Party of Arkansas in 2013, Sabin also appears on KARK Channel 4 as a political analyst and strategist for its “Political Plays” and “Capitol View” programs. Gov. Mike Beebe appointed her to the state Advisory Council for the Education of Gifted and Talented Children; she also serves on the Arkansas Alternative Energy Commission, and is on the boards of directors of the Arkansas Literacy Councils and Historic Arkansas Museum.

She is married to state Rep. Warwick Sabin.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Jess.

Hometown: El Dorado, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? I have spent a considerable amount of time between political and nonprofit settings, and both environments have allowed me to improve upon my community and the lives of others. The work I’m doing now allows me to synthesize those experiences to increase awareness and understanding of important issues by making them more personal and less abstract.  //

First job: Making milkshakes and ice cream floats in a pharmacy.

First big break: I remember the first time I was asked to engage in a televised political “sparring match.” I had no idea what it would lead to or that I would be extended other platforms by which I could provide more thoughtful and concise analysis of complex and important issues.

One word that describes you: Resolute.

Hobby: Travel.

Volunteer work: I appreciate any opportunity that allows me to improve upon my community or make someone’s life better. There are a few particular issues that are near to my heart, though, and they are increasing civic engagement in my community, raising statewide literacy rates, reducing poverty and the preservation and promotion of the arts.

What you love about what you do: What I do allows me to take complex issues and distill them to their essence so that they can be easily understood and used as a means to bring civility and smarter discourse to an otherwise tense and often “hyper-ideological” environment.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Every time I have continued to pursue and accomplish my goals when I was told I could not or should not do so.

What’s one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’ve been told that I make a tremendous bread pudding. That’s high praise in the South.

As a child, I spent hours … creating. I learned to dance, play instruments and spent many, many hours in the theater.

What is your personal motto? “Be sure that it is not you that is mortal, but only your body. For that man whom your outward form reveals is not yourself; the spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which can be pointed out by your finger.” — Cicero

What is left on your “bucket list?” To continue traveling the world, to write a book and to continue learning new languages.


Kalene Griffith / photo by Beth Hall

Kalene Griffith / photo by Beth Hall

Kalene Griffith

President
Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau

A native of Dodge City, Kan., Kalene Griffith worked in her home state as well as Florida and Missouri before coming to Arkansas. While focusing her efforts on Bentonville, she also recognizes that northwest Arkansas as a region is a destination, and she works to raise awareness of hotels, restaurants, attractions and events around the area.

In addition to promoting tourism, Griffith is passionate about sports. A former cross-country standout, she also played softball in community college and rugby at Kansas State University. She carried her interest in sports into the wider world after college with her first job at the Dodge City Parks and Recreation Department. As a neighborhood park coordinator, lifeguard and umpire for girls’ softball, she said, “I got paid to play with kids and mentor little girls every summer for six years.” Today she coaches youth teams in Bentonville and created the Small Fry Basketball program for 5 year olds. She is also involved with Upward Basketball and the Children’s Museum of Northwest Arkansas.

Griffith and her husband, John, have two children.

Q&A

Childhood nickname: Sis.

What attracted you to your career? Tourism has the opportunity for travel, work-life balance, public interaction and many facets for career directions.

First big break: While at Kansas State University, I was chosen for the Walt Disney College Program. I feel that having the Disney Experience on my resume has opened up many more doors for other opportunities throughout my career.

One word that describes you: Gregarious.

Hobby: Watching my kids play sports, running, reading and spending time with my family.

Volunteer work: I serve or have served on the boards of the Amazeum; Arkansas Hospitality Board — Travel Council (past president); Bentonville Basketball Club (past president); Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce; Bentonville Historical Museum; Downtown Bentonville, Inc.; Northwest Arkansas Mercy YMCA (past president); Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association (past president); Rotary Club of Bentonville (past president); Southeast Tourism Society; and as an Upward Basketball coach and referee.

What you love about what you do: I love coming to work every day because of the people I work with at the office and outside the office. Most importantly, who would not love the job of telling people about what I think is the best city in the world and all of its positive happenings?  //  What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I am most proud of mastering the ability to balance motherhood and my career. It’s my own definition of mastery, but it works for me.

As a child, I spent hours … outside playing sports with my siblings.

What is your personal motto? “Life is better when you’re laughing.”

What is left on your “bucket list?” Writing a children’s book.


Nicole Good / photo by Janet Warlick

Nicole Good / photo by Janet Warlick

Nicole Good

Executive Director
Garland County Habitat for Humanity

Nicole Good transitioned at the start of this year from her family’s construction company to take the helm of nonprofit homebuilder Habitat for Humanity’s Garland County operation. Blending skills learned while overseeing construction projects with those picked up from her prior career in retail management, she now builds housing for families in need as well as manages both the nonprofit’s three ReStore locations and its $2.2 million budget.

Good studied graphic and interior design at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and started her working life as a graphic designer before moving into management for Best Buy and Target. But construction is in her family’s genes. Her maternal grandfather, Harold Girard, was a Korean War veteran who started a contracting company in St. Louis more than 50 years ago; he eventually retired to Hot Springs Village. Good Construction was founded by her father, Clarence “Mac” Good, and she began working there in 2007.

A licensed contractor, Good is a certified Aging-in-Place specialist and certified Green Professional by the National Home Builders Association. Her other recognitions include being named provisional member of the year by the Junior League of Boise, Idaho; serving as fundraising chair and in other board positions for the Junior Auxiliary of Hot Springs; and two terms as president of the Home Builders Association of Hot Springs.

A distance runner, Good has completed marathons in Little Rock and Dublin, Ireland.

Q&A

Hometown: Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? I have a passion for giving back.

First big break: Recognition from a regional manager at Best Buy.

One word that describes you: Humorous.

Hobbies: Cooking, kayaking and traveling.

Volunteer work: Junior League, Junior Auxiliary, and Hot Springs Young Professionals.

What you love about what you do: I enjoy shaping the future for Habitat families.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Buying my first home.

As a child, I spent hours … building forts in the woods.

What is your personal motto? Life is Good.

What is left on your “bucket list?” Traveling to Thailand, cycling across Missouri on the Katy Trail and snow skiing in Argentina.


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