The Future is Female — 2022 AMP Future 50 Profiles: Madeline Burke and Dr. Megan Godfrey with the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas
Since 1998, The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas has been committed to providing tangible support for women pursuing education and careers, while fortifying the leaders of the next generation. In a world that strives more each day to celebrate women in all capacities, a sense of security is essential to women feeling encouraged and empowered in the workforce. Two of WFA’s own leaders, Madeline Burke and Megan Godfrey, are working every day to ensure the Foundation adheres to its supportive model and helping to expand its reach in the process. With Burke and Godfrey working with WFA, the future really is female.
Burke handles social media and communications for the Foundation, where she uses her background in journalism and public service to benefit the future of women in Arkansas by creating and publishing content for the WFA brand, as well as updates on the organization’s progress.
Godfrey, the project coordinator for the Foundation’s Save10 initiative, facilitates the WFA’s efforts to empower Arkansas women to save for life and retirement. With her background in public education and her fierce commitment to expanding opportunity, Godfrey brings passion and purpose to her role of leading the SAVE10 Initiative for Arkansas Educators initiative and elevating the life-changing message of improved financial security for women across the state. As an educator and policymaker, she has worked extensively in research and team leadership. Godfrey obtained her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction while serving two terms in the Arkansas Legislature. She also founded Room 100 Consultancy, where she provided consulting services to Arkansas women and served as an education and political consultant.
The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas is involved a lot in helping Arkansas women. Whether it’s helping to educate, leading initiatives such as “Women Empowered” or “Girls of Promise,” or researching and providing necessary resources, the Foundation works closely with others to help further economic opportunity.
“I would say my favorite part of my job is not only working with an all-women team but also just being able to bring real change to women and girls in Arkansas,” Burke said.
In working to get the word of WFA opportunities out to the public, as well as news of its initiatives, endeavors and philanthropic work, Burke has been able to experience living out her values, including her value of equity.
In her work, Burke works in helping what is traditionally referred to as “underserved” communities, but she likes to approach it differently — referring to disadvantaged communities as “underestimated communities,” communities who are capable of achieving many things when resources are available.
“Equity, for me, means looking at the processes and outcomes to ensure they are fair. Usually that means seeing that underestimated individuals that need resources to get there, can get where they’re going,” Burke said.
Burke has been with the WFA since last September and has been working in everything the WFA does for communication initiatives. As a recent graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service, Burke also attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she was a Donaghey Scholar. Outside of the WFA, Burke works with ReMix Ideas and helps with the Black Founders Summit, which aligns with her desire to create racial equity.
The ReMix Ideas organization works in building a supportive ecosystem for Black-owned businesses, while working to see the desired outcomes of increased numbers of Black-owned businesses, increased access to capital and markets, and to scale Black-owned businesses. In addition to the Black Founders Summit, Burke also works closely with the Imani Fund, a partnership between ReMix Ideas and FORGE Community Loan Fund, allowing for an innovative loan product, which is rooted in equity, one of Burke’s core values.
Burke is passionate about philanthropy and promoting good work while helping women feel empowered.
“Honestly, I just love what I do, I love an opportunity I have to help others in the state,” she said. “[In the future,] I would like to continue to use my passion and skills to continue working toward racial equity, and I want to do this locally and across the nation and eventually internationally.”
According to Godfrey, her own personal and professional experiences as an educator-legislator have led her to the person that she is today. Godfrey has worked in district leadership — as an English Second Language teacher — and recently as a state representative with a vision for the community.
“As a consultant, I get connected to a lot of different areas, projects, and I get to be involved in things that have a lot of potential for impact,” she said.
Opened doors lead to new opportunities, and the same is true for Godfrey’s most recent endeavor: her consultancy agency, Room 100. Named after her very first classroom as an educator, Godfrey explained how in classroom 100, she set out every single day to open doors for excellence, engagement and empowerment for her students and now, in her consultancy, she sets out to do the same thing for her clients.
Elevating others expanding opportunities, and inclusiveness were all values that Godfrey named as core values, which she holds close and has pursued her career. This includes her time spent as an educator, time in district leadership for Springdale School District, in the Democratic party, in creating and assessing ESL curriculum and in her work as the Save10 project coordinator for WFA.
Save10 refers to the 10% of their income that WFA is encouraging women to put back in savings for retirement. Godfrey, with passion and purpose, has had many opportunities with this project, including getting Arkansas educators involved. She has been able to partner with the Arkansas Department of Education in order to get the message out to teachers, and elevate Save10 among in-person and online educators.
The project essentially informs women how they can not only plan long-term, but also become more financially literate — empowering them to become financially aware and intentionally work toward savings, retirement and debt reduction.
Godfrey also explained that in working with educators, she has also been able to make options for student loan forgiveness for public servants, like some teachers, known — thus further elevating the message of debt reduction.
“Some educators, once they were aware, were able to have all or part of their student debt forgiven,” she explained.
Godfrey says the most meaningful part of her work is the opportunity her projects give to live out her core values. She recently earned her doctorate from the University of Arkansas and continues her work in curriculum and education.
“My biggest piece of advice for women is that it’s not about the job you have, but the work you do,” Godfrey said. “It’s less about what your actual job title is, and I would say to women this: Say yes to jobs that allow you to live out your values, regardless of what role you’re currently in — you can do work that matters to you and fulfills you and your values.”
As a native of Springdale, Godfrey is a mom to a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, visiting and eating at local taco stands and frequently attends Jazzercise.
Both Godfrey and Burke expressed gratitude for all of their opportunities, both involving WFA and outside endeavors, including being named as part of Arkansas Money & Politics’ 2022 Future 50.
Serving as two examples of the exemplary women who are involved in the WFA, the Foundation has team members and volunteers who are committed to creating a future for women in Arkansas.