The C-Suite: That place where most of us strive to be when we launch a career. Referring to the cluster of top-level executive positions within most companies — chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), chief financial officer (CFO) and chief information officer (CIO) — the C-Suite entails hard work, high stress and long hours. But the rewards can be substantial.
AMP asked readers to tell us who their favorite C-Suite executives were. Their titles may not precisely reflect “CEO” or any of the others, but their roles do. This isn’t a “best of” or a “top executives” list; but it’s a way to recognize many of those business executives in Arkansas whose hard work makes The Natural State a great place to live and work.
/ sē ē ō /
plural noun: CEOs
a chief executive officer, the highest-ranking person in a company or other institution, ultimately responsible for making managerial decisions.
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Curtis Barnett serves as president and chief executive officer for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which serves more than 2 million members nationwide. Barnett leads Arkansas Blue Cross’ efforts to help transform health care, striving to make it more affordable and a more compassionate system. He has spearheaded new work on behavioral health and health equity and spoken nationally on such subjects as the importance of private and public collaboration for changing how health care services are reimbursed and the role of health plans in addressing the social determinants of health, especially food insecurity.
Prior to his election as president and CEO in 2017, Barnett served as senior vice president of internal operations for Arkansas Blue Cross and as president and CEO of its wholly owned subsidiary company, USAble Corporation. On the national front, Barnett serves on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Board of Directors. He chairs the boards of the National Institute for Healthcare Management (NIHCM) and Blue Health Intelligence, a health-care data analytics and solutions company.
First Community Bank
The vision of 153 local investors came together on Aug. 4, 1997, when First Community Bank opened for business at 710 St. Louis St. in Batesville, with 14 employees and $3.5 million in capital. Chairman and CEO Dale Cole started his banking career March 1, 1974, and moved up through the ranks of banks in Texas and Arkansas. In 1996, he was let go when Boatmen’s Bank merged with NationsBank. Close friends in Batesville told Cole that he should start a bank–– so that’s what he did. Today, First Community Bank has grown to 470 employees and is proud to be the seventh largest bank chartered in Arkansas. Cole was one of the original board members in August of 1997, and has been at the helm of the ship ever since. He knows that wherever you find a strong bank, you will find a strong community. And wherever you find strong communities, you will find strong banks.
Crews & Associates
Dennis Clay drives the strategic direction and operational performance of the Crews team, as it assists clients in Arkansas and across the country in navigating financial markets. Clay’s commitment to stewardship and service – backed by delivering reliable value to investors and bond issuers – positions the organization for consistent performance long term. Before becoming CEO in 2020, Clay was head of sales and trading. His extensive background includes serving as a municipal underwriter for 28 years and underwriting more than $100 billion in municipal bonds. His experience includes developing a dedicated municipal sales force, building a super-regional competitive underwriting group that covered the entire country, and constructing an internal system that pre-markets and distributes negotiated municipal bonds to numerous class investors. Clay’s expertise and vast knowledge allows Crews & Associates to serve the financial needs of clients in all levels of government, business and private industry.
C.R. Crawford Construction
Cody Crawford is owner and founder of C.R. Crawford Construction, one of the state’s largest general contracting and construction management companies. A native of El Dorado, Crawford began his construction career early in life by working in various types of heavy industrial and manufacturing businesses located in the southern region of the state. He began his formal education in the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. However, after realizing that his passion was not for designing but rather for constructing buildings of all types, he adjusted his career path to better align with his interests and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He founded C.R. Crawford in 2006 in Fayetteville, where it remains headquartered.
Rock Dental Brands
Kristi Crum, CEO of Rock Dental Brands, leads the strategic performance and growth for more than 92 multispecialty dental clinics across Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Prior to joining Rock Dental Brands in 2019, Crum spent nearly two decades in the telecom industry. With 17 years successfully climbing the ranks at Verizon, she held numerous executive-level positions, including president of the south central region, as well as vice president of marketing and distribution strategy. Crum is a native Arkansan who began her career in Little Rock with the legacy Alltel Corporation. Throughout her career, she has lived on both the east and west coasts, and she is proud to have made her way back to Arkansas where she has settled in Little Rock with her twin boys, Conner and Carson. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Hendrix College in Conway. Headquartered in Little Rock, Rock Dental Brands provides general and specialty dental care and operates under multiple brands, including Westrock Orthodontics, Leap Kids Dental, Rock Family Dental and Impact Dental Specialists.
Marcy Doderer, FACHE, is president and chief executive officer at Arkansas Children’s, where she leads the state’s only pediatric health system, serving the 700,000 children in Arkansas. Under Doderer’s leadership, Arkansas Children’s transformed from one hospital into a health system with two hospitals, a research institute, a philanthropic foundation, regional clinics and alliances, telemedicine and statewide outreach programs. She has led the organization with an unwavering focus on the core values of safety, teamwork, compassion and excellence. Doderer is a Fellow in the American College of HealthCare Executives (ACHE) and active in many professional organizations. She serves as the chair of the Children’s Hospital Solutions for Patient Safety Board of Directors and immediate past chair of the Children’s Hospital Association Board of Directors. She is also a delegate to the American Hospital Association’s Regional Policy Board 7. Within Arkansas, Doderer is a member of Fifty for the Future and sits on the board of Healthy Active Arkansas.
Derek A. Dyson
Today’s Power Inc.
Derek A. Dyson is the president and CEO of Today’s Power Inc. A former shareholder for more than 20 years with the law firm of Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke, Dyson has worked closely in developing and implementing energy solutions for cooperatives, municipalities, tribal communities and independent developers. He has worked on the financing, development, construction, operation and decommissioning of numerous energy projects across the United States and internationally. Dyson has been a contracting officer with both the Department of Navy and the White House Situation Support Staff, as well as a law clerk with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Network Services Group
Ryan Flynn was named president of Network Services Group in late 2013. Network Services Group provides IT support and voice-over IP telephone solutions for many businesses across the state. Under Flynn’s leadership, NSG has grown from 11 employees and a single location in North Little Rock to more than 65 employees and three locations in Arkansas. Flynn also has served as president of the Cabot Rotary Club, two terms on the city council of Cabot, on the Cabot Parks and Recreation Commission and on the Lonoke County Election Commission.
Westrock Coffee Company
When Scott Ford started Westrock Coffee, the goal was to give back in a way that led to economic change in the lives of the people of Rwanda. Evidence of success 10 years later is a vertically integrated coffee company that impacts more than 1 million members of small-holder farming households in more than 20 different coffee-growing countries worldwide. Prior to co-founding Westrock, Ford served as president and CEO of Alltel Corporation.
He began his professional career as an investment banker and subsequently served as the assistant to the chairman at Stephens Group where his work involved traditional investment banking services, equity portfolio management, venture capital investing and acquisitions in the media industry. He currently serves on the board of directors for AT&T Inc.
Arkansas Surgical Hospital
Originally from Springdale, Brian Fowler earned an Accounting degree from Arkansas State University in 2004 and completed his MBA at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas in 2005. After completing the CPA exam in 2008, Fowler got his start in public accounting at BKD in Little Rock, where he worked from 2005-2008. He has worked in a variety of healthcare organizations throughout his career. He joined Arkansas Surgical Hospital as chief financial officer in 2016 and became chief operations officer six months later. Fowler was named CEO in Jan. 2020. He is most proud of the disciplined focus on safety and exceptional experience patients can expect at ASH. Fowler is a fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), where he served as president from 2016-2017. After hours, Fowler plays a role in his church and spends time with his wife and four children.
Behavioral Healthcare System
Shane Frazier, MBA, BSN, RN, has dedicated more than 23 years to improving healthcare for Arkansans. Shane started his career at CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock, and spent many years in various leadership roles there. In addition to serving as chief executive officer for Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System, he also serves as the Group CEO supporting Rivendell Behavioral Health Services and The Bridgeway in Central Arkansas. Shane has a passion for improving the mental health and quality of life for all Arkansans. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Shane serves as vice chair on the Board of the Children’s Protection Center; is on the Board of Managers for the Arkansas Provider Coalition (a majority owner of Summit Community Care); and serves on the Community Council for the Little Rock Air Force Base.
Founded in 1987, CDI Contractors is a full-service national general contractor and construction management company. CDI was originally founded with the sole purpose to construct retail facilities for the upscale department store retailer, Dillard’s. Lloyd Garrison, the CEO of CDI Contractors, has been employed with CDI since 1987 and has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Some of the most prestigious constructions projects undertaken by CDI include the Bank OZK corporate headquarters, the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium renovation at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, the historic Robinson Center renovation, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
Sissy’s Log Cabin
Bill Jones began his journey with Sissy’s Log Cabin in 1984. He quickly found a love for the jewelry industry as the only jeweler at Sissy’s original antique store in Pine Bluff. Jones worked in sales by day and designed jewelry at night. He went on to pursue his graduate gemologist degree at the Gemological Institute of America. Over the years, Jones has diligently worked to grow the brand to its current reputation of extraordinary jewelry and exceptional customer service. Today, he serves as CEO of Sissy’s Log Cabin and is widely recognized for his design and industry leadership, as well as his involvement on boards for several charitable organizations. He and his wife, Sharri, enjoy spending time with family and supporting the communities Sissy’s Log Cabin calls home.
George Makris Jr.
Simmons First National Corp.
When George Makris joined Simmons in January 2013, the bank had operations in three states and total consolidated assets of approximately $2.1 billion. Today, the company stretches across a six-state footprint with approximately $25 billion in assets. While serving as CEO of Simmons First National Corporation, Makris has overseen the acquisition of numerous financial institutions.
Previously, he worked with M. K. Distributors Inc., a family-owned wholesale distribution business, serving as president from 1985 to 2012. Makris also was on the local board of Worthen Bank in Pine Bluff and its successors from 1985 to 1996, serving as chairman of the board from 1994 to 1996. Makris currently serves as a member of the Jefferson Regional Medical Center board and chairs the board of the Economic Development Corporation for Jefferson County. He has previously served on the boards of numerous local, state and national organizations including several terms as chair. A Rhodes College alumnus, Makris also holds a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas.
Pat McCabe serves as president and CEO of Levi Hospital in Hot Springs. His 35 years there make him the longest serving hospital CEO in Arkansas. McCabe holds a Master of Health Administration from St. Louis University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. McCabe also serves as Hot Springs mayor, a position he has held since 2017. Prior public service includes more than 10 years as a Hot Springs city director.
McCabe and his wife, Ellen, leased the Hale Bathhouse from the Hot Springs National Park Service and restored it into a nine-room boutique hotel with an upscale casual restaurant known as Hotel Hale and Eden Restaurant. The renovation received local and state awards. McCabe was the recipient of the Hot Springs Metro Partnership 2020 Economic Development Leadership Award for his efforts in the early months of COVID with his Facebook posts of community pride and inspirational messages.
Judy R. McReynolds
Judy R. McReynolds is the chairman, president and CEO of ArcBest®. Under her leadership, ArcBest has evolved into a multibillion-dollar integrated logistics company — leading the way with cutting-edge technology and customized solutions that help keep the global supply chain moving.
McReynolds guides ArcBest with more than 30 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry, including 25 years with the company. Building on ArcBest’s nearly 100-year legacy, she has been the driving force behind diversifying the company into a logistics powerhouse with a full suite of modern logistics solutions that meet customers’ supply chain needs. McReynolds’ experience, combined with her commitment to serving customers well, providing the best atmosphere for employees and conducting business in a way that helps build a safer, more sustainable company and world has made ArcBest a leader in the logistics industry and a pillar in the communities where it operates.
Dr. Bruce Murphy
Arkansas Heart Hospital
An interventional cardiologist with more than 40 years of experience, Bruce E. Murphy, M.D., Ph.D., serves as CEO of the Arkansas Heart Hospital, a nationally recognized and award-winning hospital dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and related diseases. Founded 25 years ago by Dr. Murphy and other partners, the Arkansas Heart Hospital, and its more than 25 clinics, also focus on bariatrics, endocrinology and peripheral artery disease. At the peak of his career as a world-renowned interventional cardiologist, he surrendered his medical license to allow Arkansas Heart Hospital to become a fully locally owned institution.
A native Arkansan, Dr. Murphy graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) with a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1980 and completed his cardiology training in 1986. He has dedicated four decades to his private practice of interventional cardiology, peripheral vascular intervention and developing and teaching new techniques in both fields. He has trained physicians from over 30 countries and initiated the cardiology fellowship training program with UAMS. Dr. Murphy has published many scientific papers and spoken at the world’s top cardiac conferences.
Dr. Victoria Ramirez
Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
Dr. Victoria Ramirez began her tenure with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (AMFA) in 2019 and is currently leading the institution’s next chapter of transformation and the opening of its expanded campus in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park. Ramirez has more than 25 years of experience, having served as director of the El Paso Museum of Art and the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Previously, she worked in art museum education at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where she found joy in teaching children and adults art history and appreciation. Ramirez is leading the reshaping of AMFA to expand exhibitions and programming to reach new audiences while honoring the legacy of more than 85 years of celebrating the visual and performing arts.
Chris Roberts is chairman and CEO of Encore Bank, a private, boutique bank headquartered in Little Rock. Roberts’ journey with Encore Bank began in 2019 when he became the chairman and CEO of The Capital Bank in Little Rock. With just seven associates, $159 million in assets, one office in Little Rock and a vision to build a different kind of bank, Roberts and his team rebranded that small Arkansas bank as Encore Bank and within three years, turned it into one of the fastest growing banks in the country. Under Roberts’ leadership, Encore Bank has completed two successful common equity raises, adding more than $196 million in capital, and has rapidly expanded its business lines and its footprint into 20 different markets across nine states. As of Feb. 24, 2022, Encore had $1.72 billion in total assets, 1,300 shareholders and approximately 230 employees.
Finance has been a keen interest of Roberts’ since he was a teenager, thanks to his investment banker father. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and has now been in banking for more than 30 years. From 1992 to 2005, Roberts served in various roles, moving up the ranks within the banking industry. In 2005, Roberts became founder, CEO and president of Centennial Bank and led the bank through many successful milestones until it was sold to Home Bancshares in 2009. He served as president of Delta Trust and Bank, from 2009 until it was sold to Simmons Bank in 2014. He then became executive vice president of corporate sales and private banking for Simmons. He held this position for four years before deciding he was ready for the encore of his career – one in which he would build a different kind of bank and name it: Encore Bank.
First Security Bank
Reynie Rutledge is the chairman of First Security, a financial services holding company headquartered in Searcy. With over 40 years of experience in banking, Rutledge has been involved with all aspects of finance and management while leading First Security to become the fifth largest bank holding company based in Arkansas, with over $8.5 billion in assets and 79 locations throughout the state.
A true Arkansan, Rutledge’s rural Arkansas upbringing in the small town of Smackover and education at the University of Arkansas turned into a lifelong commitment to the growth of his home state and his beloved Razorbacks. Reynie and his wife, Ann, their three sons John, Adam and Nathan, and their 10 grandchildren, all call Arkansas home.
Matt Troup has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in the healthcare industry, serving in various administrative roles at hospitals in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. Troup came to Arkansas in 2014 as vice president of ancillary and support services at CHI St. Vincent, and was named president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System within one year. He is an energetic leader whose tenure has seen historic growth in net revenue and increases in employee and physician engagement with the organization achieving a best place to work designation five years in a row. Troup views healthcare as a faith-driven calling— a sentiment that is reflected in the way he interacts with his team each day. Staff from every facet of the health system are inspired to be bold, exceptional, and to answer the call as they work together as one team to provide high-quality, compassionate health care services.
Joe Vincent II
Rock City Kitchen/Rock City Tacos
Joe Vincent II manages Rock City Tacos and Rock City Kitchen, at three separate restaurants under his family’s FAB44 business Umbrella. Vincent’s locations are all located in downtown Little Rock. Vincent has worked in all aspects of his businesses from meal reimbursement deliveries to schools to social media management and the development and concept creation of his brands.
Arkansas Pharmacists Association
With a bachelor’s degree in Biology from UA Fayetteville, and a Doctor of Pharmacy from UAMS, Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO John Vinson has years of leadership and pharmaceutical experience. Vinson has worked his way up to the top of the APA, and has even served as the executive director of a nonprofit subsidiary organization of the APA called the Arkansas Pharmacy Foundation. Vinson has also served as a network facilitator for Arkansas Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network, which is the first clinical network of community-based pharmacies.
Sam Walls III
Arkansas Capital Corp.
Sam Walls III has been with Arkansas Capital Corporation for 19 years and currently serves as its CEO. Arkansas Capital is a non-depository Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that has helped provide over $2 billion in capital through small business loans and project finance. Arkansas Capital works closely with state and local leaders to further economic development initiatives. Walls is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the Bowen School of Law in Little Rock. Currently, he is serving as a board member of the National New Market Tax Credit Coalition, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Mount St. Mary’s Foundation.
Since joining Unity Health as president/CEO in 2018, Steven Webb has guided the system with bold financial leadership and improved the financial performance of the already healthy organization. Webb’s focus is on new services for patients, physician recruitment and improved access. Under his leadership, Unity Health recently finalized the purchase of a hospital in Jacksonville, which is undergoing major renovations. While weathering the unprecedented global health crisis, Webb navigated the ever-changing mandates and policies, striving daily to work for the patients Unity Health serves and the associates who serve them. He has stayed steadfast to an inscription above his door which reads, “Love God, Love People.”
His work experience includes serving as a Fellow at White County Medical Center in Searcy; chief executive officer at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Linden, Texas; administrator at Baptist Health Medical Center in Stuttgart; vice president of patient service at Baptist Health, Little Rock; and vice president and administrator at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock. Webb earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, and a Master of Health Service Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is a member of the Little Rock Airforce Base Community Council, Searcy Leadership and Searcy Regional Economic Development.
Steven, and his wife Elizabeth, married in 2003 and are parents of four children: Peyton (18), Paige (16), Presley (14) and Piper (13).
/ sē ō ō /
plural noun: COOs
a chief operations (or operating) officer, a senior executive responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a company or other institution.
John Allan serves as chief operating officer for VCC. John’s major responsibilities include company operations, field leadership, management and vision. Under John’s leadership, VCC has earned the reputation as a leading contractor in the nation and Arkansas’ largest general contractor. He is continually focused on driving innovation for the company and continuous improvement of management protocols. John joined VCC in 1998 as a project engineer and has grown through various levels of the company since then. He enjoys desert power sports, cars (anything involving speed), fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
Wright Lindsey Jennings
Adrienne Baker is chief operating officer for Wright Lindsey Jennings, one of the largest law firms in Arkansas. Baker also has a commercial litigation practice focused primarily on the banking industry. She regularly defends banks and their officers and directors from lender and account liability claims, of late including multiple Ponzi scheme cases. Baker provides counsel services for companies in the manufacturing, construction and professional services sectors, and Super Lawyers has named her a “Rising-Star” nearly every year since 2012. After serving nine years on the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Greater Arkansas, including a stint as board chair, Baker is taking a break from nonprofit board service to help guide WLJ through an exciting growth period following the firm’s combination with Dover Dixon Horne PLLC. In her free time, Baker enjoys hiking and traveling with her husband and son.
CHI St. Vincent
Shawn Barnett became chief operating officer for the Infirmary and North at CHI St. Vincent in 2019. Prior to his current position, Barnett served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of CHI St. Vincent. He has an extensive background in health care administration and working for both for-profit and nonprofit health care systems. He came to CHI St. Vincent from CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial in Lufkin, Texas, where he served as president and COO. Before that, he was regional CFO for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio, and he has served as regional CFO for CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Health System in Texarkana, Texas. A Jonesboro native, Barnett was controller for what was then Methodist Hospital in Jonesboro from 1988 to 1995 and was CFO of that hospital, then called Regional Medical Center of NEA, from 1995 to 1999. He also served as CFO at Triad’s Northwest Health System in Springdale and at Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin. Barnett has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Arkansas State University, and earned an MBA with an emphasis in Health Care Management from Regis University in Denver.
In the 1960s, Rick Barrows, father of Scott Barrows, worked his way up to the top of Multi-Craft Contractors, Inc. Scott would follow in his father’s footsteps, working at MCC. In 2013, after decades of service in leadership roles at MCC, Scott joined the ownership team as a junior partner. In 2019, the remaining senior partners began their retirement but remained as members of the board of directors. After a period of planning and transition, in 2020, MCC’s board of directors named Scott the COO. Multi-Craft employees have been known to claim that MCC’s success is a result of the mutual respect and dedication between the owners and their employees. This “recipe for success” has grown MCC to be a major US industrial and commercial contractor, employing over 750 engineers, project managers, tradespersons and support staff.
Big River Steel
Dan Brown was named vice president & chief operating officer of Big River Steel in July 2021 and advanced to senior vice president of advanced technology steelmaking in Feb. 2022. In addition to Big River Steel operations, Dan has responsibility over the new mill and facilities planned in Osceola. He has been serving as the BRS chief integration officer since Jan. 2021 and a member of the BRS Operations Integration team since Aug. 2020. Dan has 25 years of service with US Steel, joining the company in 1994 as a management associate for the cold rolling division at the Irvin Plant, Mon Valley Works. In 1996, he was transferred to Edgar Thomson (Primary Operations), Mon Valley Works and advanced through several increasingly responsible positions in steelmaking and secondary metallurgy. In 2003, Dan relocated to US Steel Serbia as Plant Manager – Primary Operations, then returned to the US in 2006 as Plant Manager – Finishing Operations at Fairfield Works. In 2007, he became Plant Manager – Primary Operations at Fairfield Works. In 2008, Dan was named Division Manager – Ironmaking at Gary Works and was promoted to Plant Manager – Primary Operations at Gary Works in 2018. In April 2019, Dan was named General Manager – Automotive Operations (Great Lakes Works/Midwest Sheet) with responsibilities for the Great Lakes Plant, Desco Coating and the Midwest Sheet facilities.
Dan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Logistics from Pennsylvania State University and his Master of Business Administration (Finance) from Duquesne University.
Ronald M. Clark
The Stephens Group
Ronald M. Clark is the COO of The Stephens Group. In this position, Clark offers the partners of The Stephens Group the benefit of his extensive experience in advising large, closely-held businesses on tax law, merger and acquisition, as well as other critical issues. Clark joined The Stephens Group in 2006 as general counsel, after practicing law for 26 years with Rose Law Firm. He received his bachelor’s in Accounting, as well as his Juris Doctorate, from UA Little Rock. Beginning in 2010, Clark served as both chief operating officer and general counsel. He relinquished the role of general counsel in 2021.
Shayla Copas Lifestyle
Scott Copas has been in the construction, architecture and design world since 1974.
Most recently, Copas took his experience and talent as a business developer to Shayla Copas Lifestyle as COO, where he will oversee the company’s multi-division operations such as the interior design company headed by his wife Shayla, as well as its comprehensive lifestyle brands including Shayla Copas Interiors, Shayla Copas Travel, Shayla Copas Collections, Copas + Co. Construction Consulting and The Hive Marketing & Public Relations.
Copas studied architecture and business administration at the University of Arkansas. He began his career at Baldwin & Shell Construction as an estimator before ascending to president and CEO in 2014. Under his leadership, the company’s sales grew from $80 million to more than $300 million. Among many other community accolades and positions, Copas is a past chairman and board member for the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, a lifetime national director of the Associated General Contractors of America, past member of the advisory board for the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, current member of the UALR Construction Management Advisory Board and an ex-officio board member of the ADPSAFT since its establishment in 2005.
Alex Dillard serves as president, director, and COO of Dillard’s, Inc. Alex has been a member of the board since 1975 and serves on the Executive Committee of the board of directors for Dillards. He has been involved in virtually every aspect of operations and merchandising for the company for over 45 years and previously served as executive vice president of Dillard’s. He has served as a board member of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Foundation Fund, Philander Smith College, Union Bank and Worthen Bank in Little Rock and First National Bank of Ft. Worth, Texas. Alex’s understanding of both the merchandising and the operational aspects of the retail business has enabled the Board to more effectively gain a broad overview of the day-to-day processes involved in the operation of the company.
Jennifer Lester, CPM, RPA
Moses Tucker Partners
Jennifer Lester has more than 20 years of real estate experience. Prior to joining Moses Tucker Partners, Lester was regional manager for Union Plaza Commercial Real Estate, Holt Lunsford Commercial and Presidio Commercial Services. She managed the 25-story Bank of America Plaza building and the 21-story Union National Plaza building, as well as several other mid-rise office buildings in Arkansas.
Lester began her real estate career with Moses Tucker Real Estate as director of operations and was responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and accounting for 14 commercial and mixed-use office buildings and two residential properties. She was also involved in new development and redevelopment projects including the Arkansas Capital Commerce Center and the Clinton Presidential Archives project. Lester has been responsible for construction projects exceeding $25 million encompassing lobby renovation, elevator modernization, plaza renovation, asbestos abatement and multiple tenant improvements including tenant relocations. She holds a Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management, a Real Property Administrator (RPA) designation from BOMI International, an Arkansas real estate broker’s license and is a member of the Arkansas Realtors Association.
Cushman & Wakefield|Sage Partners
Jordan Martin, COO of Cushman & Wakefield|Sage Partners, began his real estate management career in 2002 working for Cassidy Turley (formerly Colliers Turley Martin Tucker and now Cushman & Wakefield), one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the country. In addition to his extensive experience working directly for Cassidy Turley, he also has experience working as a consultant for Yardi Systems, and working as an independent consultant. As a consultant, Martin worked with clients of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies, implementing Yardi software and assisting companies with their month-end and year-end processes as well as identifying and implementing solutions allowing companies to gain efficiencies. His areas of expertise include Yardi subject matter expert, strategic process improvement, software implementations, financial reporting and analysis, internal controls and compliance, budgeting and forecasting, as well as project management.
Robin Miller began her career in accounting with Arthur Young and started working at Rector Phillips Morse (RPM) in 1986. She now serves as president and principal broker of Coldwell Banker RPM, and chief operating officer for RPM Group. In over three decades, Miller has helped grow RPM’s residential business from a single office with 35 agents, into eight offices with 260 agents. She played an integral role in the acquisition of the Coldwell Banker franchise in 2008, and as principal broker, now oversees the daily operations of the eight branch offices. Miller is responsible for recruiting, training and the development of the sales team. Her experience and leadership is focused on developing and delivering business services and solutions, providing outstanding client service, and driving profitable revenue growth.
She is a member of RPM Group’s executive board and is a passionate advocate for home ownership.
Her commitment to bringing the best people together has given her a reputation for building a strong team that regularly outperforms expectations. Miller is a native of central Arkansas and currently serves on the Little Rock Regional Chamber Executive Committee, Little Rock Realtors Association, Arkansas Realtors Association, and National Association of Realtors. Outside of RPM Group, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four grandchildren.
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Brian Oaks, leads activities and operations for all LRCVB-managed properties including the Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, Robinson Center box office, River Market and multiple parking decks and surface lots. Before joining the LRCVB, Oaks was general manager of the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, Illinois. He oversaw all aspects of facility management for the multi-purpose convention center and 7,000-seat concert arena. Tenure highlights include a $17 million dollar facility renovation, and the negotiation of a 10-year naming rights agreement with the Bank of Springfield.
Oaks earned his degree in Speech Communication with an emphasis on Public Relations from the University of Illinois. He is a Venue Management School & VMS Graduate Institute graduate through the International Association of Venue Managers. Oaks has worked with several charitable and professional organizations including Downtown Springfield Inc., the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Sangamon & Menard County Crimestoppers.
Edward Pratt Jr.
Edward Pratt is COO at Zenwork, Inc, a growing company providing compliance software to accounts payable organizations, accountants and businesses. Pratt joined Zenwork in 2013 as vice president of business development where he was responsible for sales, developing partner relationships, client relationship management, collecting client feedback to modify existing sites, writing blog posts and press releases and publicizing the sites and services. He has served as chief operating officer of the company since 2017. Pratt holds a Bachelor of English degree from Appalachian State University, and a Master of English degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department
Randy Ort began his career with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department in 1988. After being promoted from public hearing specialist to assistant public affairs officer, Ort was finally promoted to public information officer in 2003. For most of his career, he served as the primary spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, often representing ARDOT at local, state and national events. In early 2015, Ort was promoted to assistant chief administration and oversaw many non-engineering functions of the agency, including the Governmental Relations Office and the human resources, information technology, fiscal services and equipment and procurement divisions. Ort assumed his current title of deputy director and chief operating officer in March 2020, where he oversees all operational activities for the department. As a graduate of North Little Rock Northeast High School, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Arkansas. Ort currently resides in Sherwood with his wife, Charlene.
Bob Roberts joined Legacy Capital in 2019, after a successful 30-year career with Baptist Health. At Legacy, Bob is responsible for overseeing strategic growth, implementing the expansion into additional locations, and recruiting and integrating advisor teams and individual advisors into the Legacy Capital family. Bob earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music from Indiana University in Trumpet Performance, and a Master of Professional Accountancy degree from Baylor University. He began his career as a CPA with KPMG and Arthur Andersen, and started at Baptist in 1988 as assistant vice president offFinance and was promoted to executive VP/CFO in 2014. Bob performs regularly with the Natural State Brass Band, the Little Rock Winds and is a board member for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. When not working or playing trumpet, Bob enjoys traveling with his wife, Stacy, to visit their three adult children.
Jonathan Rushing, COO of Arkansas Urology, has spent most of his career in healthcare management. For the last 14 years he has been at Baptist Health in leadership roles which include managing clinical trials, serving as a regional and associate vice president for Clinic Operations, and most recently serving as a member of the Western Region Leadership Team. Prior to working at Baptist Health, Rushing served in various capacities for Easter Seals, Inc. in Texarkana, Texas, which included serving as the nonprofit organization’s executive director.
A native of Crossett, Arkansas, Rushing has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas and completed his MBA at Southern Arkansas University in the fall of 2020. His community involvement includes serving as the vice chairman for Junior Achievement, as well as being actively involved in Parkway Place Baptist Church.
Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard PLLC
As COO for Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C., Julia Strickland plays an integral role in helping develop strategies to support the firm’s values and operational goals. With 20 years of law firm management experience, Julia directs the firm’s leadership in the financial and administrative aspects of legal services and coordinates the law firm’s four offices. As an active member of the community, she has been involved in the Junior League of Little Rock where she served as its president. She is also a member of the Leadership Greater Little Rock Alumni Association and a graduate of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas’ Emerging Leaders Class. Julia earned a BSBA from the University of Arkansas and is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and a Certified Legal Manager.
J. Stephen Tipton
J. Stephen Tipton was appointed to serve as the chief operating officer of Home BancShares and Centennial Bank in August 2015. Tipton previously served as a regional vice president of Centennial Bank. He began his banking career in 2005 and joined Centennial Bank in 2006. Prior to becoming regional vice president, Tipton served as director of credit risk management during 2013 and as a commercial lender from 2009 to 2012. Tipton has a vast array of experience in retail, business development, lending and acquisitions. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Promoted to chief operating officer in February 2021, Brant Ward is responsible for bank rates, liquidity and asset/liabilities of the bank, as well as management of the bank’s bond portfolio. Ward serves on the Executive Management Committee, steering strategic business planning, policy development and overall problem solving. He also initiates the development of deposit products, pricing and delivery systems. In addition to providing leadership and oversight in new market development and guidance for the retail department, Ward supervises the bank operations, mortgage, and information technology departments. Ward received a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Henderson State University and a Master’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Finance from the University of Arkansas. Ward completed International Studies in the British Studies Program and Italy Study Abroad, and his banking education was completed at the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado in 2018.
At the intersection of technology and community is where you’ll find Emma Willis. Whether overseeing a fintech startup or volunteering with technical development for a group of black-owned venture studios, Willis’ ability to tap into the connectivity of tech is always at the forefront. And that’s something that often gets overlooked – tech’s ability to connect people to resources and opportunities that enhance communities at all levels.
Willis’ journey to this point has been deeply rooted in The Natural State. She’s an alumnus of Philander Smith College, was former senior strategist with Little Rock agency MHP/Team SI and has worked for numerous years with Junior Achievement of Arkansas and Junior Achievement of NWA. As the former executive director of Arkansas 529, Willis launched Gift Arkansas 529, the first state-run 529 plan app in the country. Soon after, she joined the team at Venture Noire as COO, while continuing to call Northwest Arkansas home.
/ sē ef ō /
noun: CFO; plural noun: CFOs
a chief financial officer, a senior executive with responsibility for the financial affairs of a corporation or other institution.
Arkansas Realtors Association
Kim Ashcraft is the chief financial officer for the Arkansas Realtors Association. Ashcraft was born and raised in Little Rock, where she later received her degree from University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Ashcraft has been a member of the ARA since 1993.
Brent Beaulieu is the chief financial officer for Baptist Health. In this role, he is responsible for all finance, revenue cycle, supply chain, risk management and real estate activities in the organization. Beaulieu joined Baptist Health in 2007 as assistant vice president of finance and has been an invaluable part of leading the system’s financial operations ever since. Prior to joining Baptist Health, he spent nine years as a Certified Public Accountant, specializing in health care matters with national accounting firm BKD. He received a degree in Accounting from Harding University.
Beaulieu also lends his expertise to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, where he began serving on the finance committee in 2021 and joined the full board for 2022. He is past president of the Arkansas chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and he also served on the national Principles and Practices Board from 2013-2016. He was a member of the Health Care Expert Panel for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants from 2010-2013.
As Chief Financial Officer, Troy Brooks has responsibility for the overall financial operations of Conway Regional Health System, which includes Conway Regional Medical Center, Conway Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, Conway Regional Surgery Center (an outpatient imaging center), along with primary and specialty care clinics located throughout north Central Arkansas. Brooks joined Conway Regional Health System in 2018, bringing more than 37 years of experience in advanced healthcare financial management and leadership. He has a passion for getting financial considerations woven into the operating behavior of the organization and for advancing a culture of accountability. The feel-good part of his job is educating and advancing the understanding of financial reports for others.
Arkansas College of Health Sciences
As a graduate of Arkansas Tech University, Chris Brown began his career in public accounting as a staff accountant in 2010 at Landmark CPAs in Fort Smith. While at Landmark, Brown rose to become Audit Manager. In 2021, he joined Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) as the Director of Accounting and was promoted to Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in January 2022, as a licensed CPA in Arkansas. Brown has received many accolades including the Arkansas Society of CPAs “Emerging CPA of the Year” award and the Arkansas Tech “19 in 9” award. He and his wife have three daughters.
White River Health System
Shawna Ives serves as the executive vice president and chief financial officer at White River Health System (WRHS), a position she assumed at the age of 34. Ives found her passion for business during college, switching her career path from pharmacy to accounting. She has 14 years of experience in financing. After earning her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Central Arkansas, she began her career as a nonprofit auditor for BKD LLP, and Welch, Couch and Co. In 2010, she was introduced to WRHS, sparking her interest in health care. In 2016, Ives was hired at WRHS as the budget manager. She was then promoted to controller in 2018, and a year later, to CFO.
Arkansas Federal Credit Union
Eric Mangham is senior vice president and chief financial officer for Arkansas Federal Credit Union. Prior to joining Arkansas Federal, he was a credit union examiner with the National Credit Union Administration. Mangham serves on the boards of Ronald McDonald House, the Better Business Bureau of Arkansas and the NAFCU CFO Steering Committee. He received his bachelor’s and MBA in finance from Lamar University.
Jeff Mascagni, CPA, CGFM, CPFO
Central Arkansas Water
Jeff Mascagni was named CFO of Central Arkansas Water in June 2014. Mascagni is responsible for the finance, customer service and information services departments. During his tenure with CAW, he has overseen treasury management activities, cost of service rate studies, budgetary activities, customer service technology transformations, mergers and acquisitions and development of the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for utility. Prior to joining CAW, Mascagni was an audit manager at a regional accounting firm, specializing in audits of government and nonprofit entities. He is responsible for modifying the utility’s annual budget document and ACFR to comply with Government Finance Officer Association requirements. Mascagni holds a B.S. in accounting and a MBA from Arkansas State University. As a certified public accountant, a certified government financial manager and a certified public finance officer, Mascagni is a past president of the Association of Government Accountants Central Arkansas Chapter and has been a speaker at numerous AGA and American Water Works Association conferences and events.
Hytrol Conveyor Company, Inc.
Daniel McAdoo is the CFO of Hytrol Conveyor Company located in Jonesboro. McAdoo joined Hytrol in 2019 after three years at Big River Steel. He earned his bachelor’s in Accounting/Finance from John Massey School of Business at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and his master’s in Business Administration from Arkansas State University. Before joining Big River Steel, McAdoo was a controller at Douglas/Quikut from 2010 to 2016. He also worked for The Scott Fetzer Company from 2002 to 2010 in various manufacturing, accounting and finance roles. A native of Mobile, Alabama, McAdoo enjoys woodworking, fishing, marksmanship and spending time with his family.
DYNE Hospitality Group
Stuart McLendon is the CFO of DYNE Hospitality Group and manages the company’s financing, investor relations, and business planning activities. A North Little Rock native, Stuart has spent the past 13 years providing corporate financial services to small and mid-sized businesses throughout the US. When not spending time with his wife, Mandi, and their three children, Stuart helps develop the next generation of entrepreneurs by teaching finance and management at UA Little Rock as well as mentoring through startup accelerator and incubator programs.
Barbara McCrory CPA, MPA
The Centers – Little Rock
Barbara McCrory became CFO at The Centers in 2004, before the age of 30. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. McCrory began her career in 1998 at the then Thomas & Thomas CPA firm in Little Rock. She was always drawn to nonprofit work and transitioned to The Centers because of its mission to help children and families in the community. In her spare time, she volunteers as president of the local soccer club in Vilonia, coordinating registration, matches and uniforms for over 200 kids. McCrory is proud to achieve success as a woman in the C-level suite, especially at one of the state’s largest nonprofits which serves thousands of children, families and adults each year.
Cushman & Wakefield|Sage Partners
Tina Miles is the chief financial officer for Cushman & Wakefield|Sage Partners in Little Rock. She has 20 years of combined experience in the accounting field for private business, service industry, manufacturing and nonprofit businesses. Recognized professionally in Arkansas, Miles graduated cum laude with a BSBA in Accounting from Robert Morris University. She previously spent three years as auditor for the largest regional firm in Pittsburgh, Schneider Downs, and was an accounting manager for a nonprofit hospice. Before she joined Sage Partners, Miles spent 10 years as CFO for BioBased Technologies, LLC.
Arkansas Community Foundation
Raised in Sherwood, Arkansas, Corey Moline is a 1995 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas. Prior to his role as CFO for Arkansas Community Foundation, Corey spent two years as the controller of a Little Rock-based trucking company, and worked nearly 17 years in public accounting. He came to Arkansas Community Foundation in the summer of 2014 and immediately fell in love with the organization, its people and its mission to improve the communities in Arkansas. He is proud that during his tenure, the Foundation has grown from a $235 million organization to its current asset size of over $600 million, all due to the generosity of so many Arkansans that want to make a difference in the state. He considers his family to be his greatest accomplishment. Corey and his wife of 28 years, Rebekkah, are the parents of four children, and he is a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Conway.
Sandra Morgan is the vice president and chief financial officer of Riceland Foods. She is responsible for the farmer-owned cooperative’s finance, accounting and information technology, and serves on the management committee for Riceland’s partnerships Rivland, RITO and Best Rice. She is a trustee for the Riceland Employee Benefits Plans. After years in the telecommunications industry at ALLTEL Corporation, Morgan joined Riceland’s accounting in 1989, and has been with the cooperative for 32 years.
Morgan has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Central Arkansas, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountancy and the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants. She has served as an outside director of the AgHeritage Farm Credit Service board of directors since 2015, serving on the Executive Committee, Audit Committee and Human Resources Committee.
Northwest Arkansas Regional
Tim O’Donnell joined the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority in April 2019 as its CFO. Previously, O’Donnell served as the vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Committee and had oversight of a total budget in excess of $800 million.
Prior to joining the UA in 2013, O’Donnell was vice president and treasurer of Southwestern Energy Co. in Fayetteville until the company relocated its energy business to Houston. He spent 22 years at Southwestern and held numerous financial positions with the company. O’Donnell has also worked in commercial real estate and public accounting in his career. He is a CPA (inactive) and has served on numerous boards and committees during his professional career in Arkansas. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa.
Rose Law Firm
Paul Parnell has served as the chief financial officer of Rose Law Firm since 2015. During this time, Paul has been responsible for managing all aspects of the firm’s fiscal operations, including the firm’s expansion in Northwest Arkansas, technological upgrades and advances, and increased operating efficiencies, which have allowed the firm to enjoy consistent growth over the past seven years. In addition to his firm duties, he has an active legal practice advising clients on all aspects of federal and state tax matters, commercial finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Chambers USA recognized Paul as a Band 1 attorney in Corporate/Commercial – Tax. He is a certified public accountant, with an MA in Accounting from Hendrix College and a J.D. from the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Paul is currently a member of the Arkansas State Chamber’s Leadership Arkansas Class XVI.
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
As the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (LRCVB) senior vice president and chief financial officer, Chris Phillips provides operational, strategic, and programmatic support to the LRCVB relative to the annual operating budget and financial management of funds for the organization. He oversees accounting, finance, procurement, human resources, and information technology.
Prior to joining the LRCVB, Phillips spent a decade in the hospitality industry working with both the Little Rock Peabody Hotel and the Little Rock Marriott. Phillips holds an economics degree from University of North Carolina, a culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales, and a Master of Business Administration from University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Phillips serves at the local, state, regional and national level of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2020, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Boy Scouts national honor society, one of only four in Arkansas to have done so.
Westrock Coffee Company
Chris Pledger serves as chief financial officer at Westrock Coffee Company, overseeing all finance, accounting, tax and corporate development functions for the company worldwide. Pledger also leads the global expansion of the company’s trading and export operations.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee in 2013, Pledger served as the company’s outside legal counsel as a partner at Kutak Rock LLP. He has also served as a legal, international business and finance executive at Hunt Oil Company. He began his career as a corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions attorney at Thompson & Knight LLP and Vinson & Elkins LLP. Pledger serves on the board of directors of Falcon Coffees Limited and Rwanda Trading Company.
Travel Nurse Across America
Scott Rosenberg has been the CFO of Travel Nurse Across America since 2020, helping lead the company through rapid growth. Over the course of his 25 year career, Scott has worked in a variety of financial, operational and leadership roles, most recently as vice president of finance, strategic pricing and FP&A for Wellpath, a private equity owned correctional healthcare company. Prior to that, he held financial global leadership roles as VP of finance for Singer Sewing Machines and Finance Director with Asurion Insurance Services. Scott holds an MBA from Rice University and a BA degree in economics and finance from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Heath Simpson joined Ritter Communications in March 2020 following a nationwide recruitment campaign utilizing a leading executive search firm. Simpson’s 25 year career includes extensive financial and operational experience in telecommunications. During his decade at AT&T, he was actively involved in industry transformative M&A transactions. Simpson also led corporate development, strategy and financial planning and analysis at Frontier Communications as a senior executive officer, and was previously CFO at BACOM, a privately held telecom infrastructure company. As CFO, Simpson provides executive level leadership to finance and accounting, human resources, information technologies, program management and facilities. His responsibilities extend to all aspects of financial management, including planning, capital allocation, risk assessment and mitigation and reporting in support of Ritter Communications’ position as a premier independent broadband internet provider.
As a former officer in the Army Reserve, Simpson earned his MBA and undergraduate business degrees from Texas Christian University. Simpson is a native Texan and is married with three children. He enjoys traveling with his family, playing guitar and spending time outdoors.
Rock Dental Brands
As chief financial officer of Rock Dental Brands, Ashley Sims is responsible for the financial performance of 95-plus multispecialty dental clinics. These clinics, operating under multiple brands including Westrock Orthodontics, Leap Kids Dental, Rock Family Dental, and Impact Oral Surgery, provide access to affordable dental care to 400,000 patients each year across Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Sims leads the accounting, financial planning andanalytics, M&A diligence, business intelligence, information technology, and revenue cycle management teams at Rock Dental.
During her time, the company has added more than 60 clinics and 450 employees to the RDB family. She began her career in the telecom industry at Windstream Communications in Little Rock. She was selected to join the Finance Leadership Program at Windstream, where she rotated through several departments across the company.
Sims grew up in Monette and earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Jennifer Styron joined CARTI as chief financial officer in 2018 after spending more than seven years with Arkansas Heart Hospital. Styron leads CARTI’s innovative finance team that includes business intelligence, revenue cycle, patient advocacy, health information management, accounting and supply chain leaders. She has extensive banking, finance and strategy experience, and earned her accounting degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In the community, Styron serves on the board of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care.
Ouachita Baptist University
Jason Tolbert has worked at Ouachita Baptist University for seven years as the chief financial officer. In addition to overseeing the university’s finances and reporting to the Board of Trustees, Tolbert is responsible for human resources, business services, financial aid and dining services as well as the print shop, bookstore and the post office. He lives in Benton with his wife and two sons and is currently building a house in Arkadelphia to be close to campus.
Before Ouachita, Tolbert worked in various accounting jobs including a position at Alltel and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Immediately before joining Ouachita, Tolbert worked at the Arkansas Baptist Foundation where he helped manage endowment funds and planned gifts to Baptist churches and institutions, including Ouachita.
Jeff Weatherly has served as Lexicon’s chief financial officer for more than 20 years. He is responsible for accounting, treasury, risk management, banking and surety relationships, litigation and acquisitions. Prior to joining the Lexicon team as vice president and CFO, he served as director of tax for Hudson Foods in Rogers and manager for Authur Anderson & Co. in Kansas City. A Certified Public Accountant, Weatherly received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Missouri.
/ sē tē ō/
noun: CTO; plural noun: CTOs
a chief technology (or technical) officer, a senior executive with responsibility for managing the technological requirements of a company or other institution.
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
Cory Anderson builds and maintains local and national partnerships, launches bold initiatives, and strategizes to ensure the Foundation pursues equity for all Arkansans. In addition to his role at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Anderson also serves as the interim executive director of ForwARd Arkansas. He understands collaboration because it has been his career. For seven years at The Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Anderson supported state-level child advocacy organizations and helped lead the KIDSCOUNT initiative. He is currently a BMe Public Voices Fellow. He also serves on the boards of Arkansas Baptist College, the Urban League of Arkansas, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, and Neighborhood Funders Group.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Dr. Thomas E. Bunton is the associate vice chancellor and chief information officer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Bunton is responsible for the strategic vision and leadership of information technology initiatives across the organization. He fosters innovation and builds partnerships with campus constituents to evaluate, prioritize, deploy and manage current and future state IT initiatives.
Prior to his roles at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Bunton held various leadership roles at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Purdue University where he led large-scale technological and organizational transformations that included implementing centers of excellence, drafting and executing IT strategic plans, and rationalizing and integrating complex IT portfolios.
Bunton earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where he researched organizational agility within higher education IT organizations. He received both his Master of Science in Information Technology and bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.
Arkansas Heart Hospital
Brian Cahalan brings more than 20 years of information technology management and consulting experience to the Arkansas Heart Hospital. Since 2019, Cahalan has served as the hospital’s chief technology and information security officer where he oversees its IT infrastructure, software applications, cybersecurity, business intelligence and BIOMED departments.
Cahalan graduated cum laude from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business in 1994. Prior to the Arkansas Heart Hospital, he was a partner at Edafio Technology Partners in Rogers and spent more than 15 years with Acxiom. Cahalan brings a wealth of retail, financial services and healthcare industry experience to the hospital with specialties in business intelligence, reporting and cybersecurity.
Washington Regional Medical System
Jim Daly is vice president and chief information officer of Washington Regional Medical System in Fayetteville. Daly is responsible for aligning technology strategy to the mission and core values of the organization and oversees the infrastructure, applications, cybersecurity, biomedical, portfolio management and service desk departments. Prior to joining Washington Regional in 2017, he served as senior director of business solutions for Health Care Service Corporation.
Daly is from Little Rock and a graduate of Catholic High School for Boys. He earned his undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Business Administration and Healthcare Administration from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business. Daly serves as president of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Arkansas Chapter, and was recently recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the “102 Hospital and Health System CIOs to Know.”
As First Orion’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark Himelfarb is responsible for ensuring that the company stays on the cutting edge of the industry by bringing to life software and solutions powering the company’s product line, through innovation in both methodology and technology. Backed by his 20+ years of experience in leading software engineering and systems design teams in a variety of industries, such as financial technology, benefits industry and education, Himelfarb takes his passion for language learning, both computer and human, and pours it into pioneering novel approaches for tackling problems that First Orion’s customers face. Prior to joining First Orion, he designed and developed advanced transaction authorization, real-time processing and fraud-detection solutions for credit and debit card industry, as well as pioneered the use of VOIP technology for building self-service scalable Interactive Voice Response and fax image processing systems.
Southern Arkansas University Tech
Laura Johnson is the chief information officer at SAU Tech in Camden. In this role, she leads a team that provides the necessary resources as it relates to computer hardware and/or software to support the mission and educational goals of the college. She has more than 39 years of technical experience in higher education, all at SAU Tech. Johnson currently manages a 550K+ technology budget and is the project manager for the new student-information system upgrade that is in phase one of the implementation process. Johnson received her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia in 1982. In 1985, she became the first African American female to be named director of computer services in the state of Arkansas.
Kendall Kirby, senior vice president of information technology at USAble Life, has been beating the odds his entire life. Diagnosed with bone cancer as a teenager, Kirby was told he might not reach his 16th birthday. Now he’s celebrating nearly 29 years in the life- and health-insurance industries and has more than 34 years of IT experience, including technical expertise as a software and web developer, network engineer and systems analyst.
Kirby first joined USAble Life in 1993 and in 1997 began a 10-year tenure with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, where he served as an actuarial decision support analyst supervisor. Since rejoining USAble Life, he has been instrumental in providing the strategic direction for technologies that have transformed the company’s IT infrastructure into a leading program for creating operational efficiencies and great customer solutions. Kirby also has been influential in the development of patent-pending technology that supports product advancements. All of these improvements are a critical component of USAble Life’s growth.
City of Conway
Aaron Knight is the director of information technology and chief information officer for the City of Conway. As CIO, Knight leads a team of ten professionals focused on modernizing and securing the city’s technology infrastructure and improving user experience. He is president of the University of Central Arkansas Alumni Association and on the board of directors for Children’s Advocacy Alliance, Faulkner County Affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation and UCA Foundation. Knight also serves on the UCA Computer Science advisory board and is past president of the Conway Public Schools Foundation. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Arkansas.
Robert H. McClanahan
Arkansas Electric Cooperatives
Robert H. McClanahan is vice president of information technology and chief technology officer for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). McClanahan began his career with AECC in 1981 as a programmer, moving to systems analyst, then department manager before his promotion to vice president in 2000. He graduated summa cum laude from Henderson State University with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Computer Science. Over the past decade, McClanahan has been very active in efforts to improve the security of the electric grid. He is a past chair of the Southwest Power Pool Critical Infrastructure Protection Working Group and a past vice chair of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee. He supports the Cooperatives’ interests within the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) and recently completed his term as chair of the Executive Committee of the ESCC’s Cyber Mutual Assistance Program.
Rasesh Patel came to Apptegy with unmatched experience developing software engineering teams. Prior to becoming Apptegy’s Chief Technology Officer, Rasesh spent 24 years at Acxiom Corporation, where he started as a software engineer and rose through the ranks to senior director of product engineering.
Rasesh has a reputation for being the “Fixer.” Much of his work at Acxiom involved consulting with engineering teams to increase velocity and ship projects more quickly. At Apptegy, he’s built the engineering organization from 15 to nearly 100 engineers. His leadership has not only allowed the ed-tech company’s technical team to spread across geographies, but also expand their products.
Keith Jordan, a long-term colleague of Rasesh’s, described him as a strong counter-balance for most technical leaders, “Rasesh considers the engineer first, and the work second. He’s always been focused on building relationships across his teams.”
Rasesh enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife, Rekha, and his children, Ankush and Ayesha.
As Chief Information Officer for Conway Regional, James Reed is responsible for the information system operations of the health system. In addition, Reed provides executive oversight of the pharmacy and quality departments and serves as Conway Regional’s Corporate Compliance Officer. He has spent the past nine years as Chief Information Officer.
Reed has also served as pharmacist and pharmacy director at Conway Regional and was administrative director of St. Anthony’s Medical Center for nearly four years. In 2019, Reed achieved the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s North Metro Healthcare Award for Administrator of the Year.
As Chief Technology Officer, Adam Rockers is responsible for ensuring that DataPath’s technology delivers a modern, secure and superb experience to its clients. Adam possesses firsthand, expert knowledge of both DataPath’s cloud-based Summit platform and the complexities of benefits administration.
Adam started his career with DataPath in 2002. Over the past two decades, he has accepted increasing responsibilities, demonstrating both in-depth knowledge of system development processes and leadership excellence. Adam oversees all aspects and strategic planning for the DataPath technology teams. Adam has two decades of experience in the benefits administration industry, developing software platforms that administer 105, 125, 132, and HSA plans as well as COBRA, card solutions, and Fulfillment. He possesses a comprehensive understanding of the company’s solutions and network infrastructure. Adam’s responsibilities include setting the technology strategy for DataPath, improving processes, and delivering quality and superior functionality to our clients. As CTO, he oversees the collaboration between the Development, Quality Assurance, Project Management, and IT teams.
Adam received his BS in Computer Science from Arkansas State University.
Arkansas State University
Henry Torres serves as the chief information officer for Arkansas State University. Prior to moving to Northeast Arkansas, Torres was an information technology executive specializing in areas of distribution, logistics, store operations and e-commerce. His career included executive positions with Walmart, Neiman-Marcus, CSK Auto and Frederick’s of Hollywood. While at Walmart, he worked in warehouse administration, store operations, Sam’s Club and the Latin America division. While at both CSK Auto and Frederick’s, he held positions as senior vice president, CIO. Additionally, he was instrumental in developing the e-commerce channel for Frederick’s and was part of an internet start-up in Silicon Valley. As part of the College of Business outreach, Torres was the key member of a high-tech company startup where he helped create a software outsourcing company called Rural Sourcing, Inc. and developed it to $1.2 million of annual sales in 24 months.
Torres serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations including Accelerate Arkansas, Commerce Capital Development Company, LLC, The United Way, and Hispanic Community Services, Inc. He resides in Jonesboro with his wife and their three young daughters.
Arkansas Tech University
Before he was the chief information officer for Arkansas Tech University, Ken Wester had already made his mark on the school. His journey began in 1976 when Wester joined the US Army. He served for 12 years and spend an additional three years in the reserves and IRR. During his time in service, Wester self-taught in computer repair and programming and earned over 30 hours in industrial technology at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA. In 1990, Wester went back to school for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Arkansas Tech University. After a work-study, being the first computer/network technician hired at ATU and many more progressing positions, Wester became the chief information officer in 2017. He has dedicated a little over 31 years to Arkansas Tech University, and there is more to come.
Crenisha Wright joined Arkansas Foodbank in July of 2021. Wright has experience working with information systems, data analytics and artificial intelligence. She received a BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Arkansas, a MBA from Texas A&M University-Texarkana, a MS degree in Information Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Computer and Information Sciences program at UALR. In her free time, she loves swimming, traveling and spending time with family and friends.