Honorees and co-chairs for the 24th-annual ‘Power of the Purse’ Luncheon have been announced by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. Celebrating career and philanthropic accomplishments of women and organizations across the state, this year’s luncheon is presented by Arkansas Children’s and will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
“We are excited to announce our honorees and co-chairs for this year’s Power of the Purse Luncheon,” said Jill Floyd, President of WFA’s board of directors. “For the past 24 years, our organization has had the privilege of honoring and recognizing such a long list of Arkansas women whose impact can be seen all across the state. We are thrilled to continue to add to this list with more women who are passionate about giving back to their communities and removing barriers for the next generation of women and girls in our state.”
First lady Susan Hutchinson will receive the Woman in Public Service Award. As the First Lady, Hutchinson has brought a lifetime of experience in advocating for and working with children to the state. She has spent several years on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, one of 16 nonprofit Children’s Advocacy Centers across the state that works with abused children, and other organizations that are dedicated to services for children and various health initiatives.
Esperanza Massana-Crane, director of the minority and women-owned business enterprise division at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, is the Woman of the Year in Business. Esperanza is responsible for facilitating the growth, development and expansion of minority and women-owned businesses by helping them gain access to valuable information, new market opportunities and financial resources.
The woman honored as Woman of the Year in Philanthropy is Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Arkansas Community Foundation. In her career, Larkin has showcased her commitment to engaging people and connecting resources to build stronger communities in Arkansas. She has overseen the Community Foundation’s growth from $19 million in assets and $1.4 million in annual grants, to over $600 million in assets and $35 million in annual grants.
The WFA is also debuting a new award this year, the Woman of the Year in Innovation award. Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer and Executive VP of people and human resources at J.B. Hunt will be the first-ever recipient of the award, which is sponsored by MHP/Team SI in honor of the agency’s “50th Innoversary.” Simpson, throughout the past 27 years at J.B. Hunt, has positioned herself as an innovative leader dedicated to growth and progression in transportation and logistics.
Co-chairs of this year’s event are Beverly Morrow, entrepreneur, community advocate, and chair of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Board of Directors, and Shannon Hendrix, MS, RD, LD. Hendrix is the senior vice president and chief administrator at Arkansas Children’s Northwest.