Arkansas Women's Forum boasts influential executives.
The Arkansas Women's Forum, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is a statewide executive leadership and networking group based in Little Rock. An affiliate of the International Women's Forum, AWF doesn't raise money or seek publicity. It does not lobby government, espouse political agendas or champion causes.
Members such as Linda Dillman, executive vice president and chief information officer at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, said AWF's power is in its talent pool, which serves as a conduit for professional development. Through companies and organizations such as Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods Inc., Heifer International and Stephens Inc., the decisions AWF's members make affect tens of thousands of Arkansans and even the global economy. For evidence, see the complete 53-member roster on Page 17.
They get together several times a year and re-energize each other through powwows about business, leadership and life. It's like the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" of Arkansas boardrooms.
Dillman said although business leaders often do volunteer work and get involved in their communities, they've typically been called to contribute time, energy or resources. AWF, she said, is self-infusing.
Fortune magazine named Dillman one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" on Nov. 1.
It was the third straight year that Dillman made the list, coming in at No. 29 last year and this year.
"When I joined the Arkansas Women's Forum, I did it for me," Dillman said. "I may have a lot of contact with CIOs and others in retail, but to be able to learn from women who have pioneered medical research, been innovators in education or leaders in nonprofits is incredible.
"Sometimes, as senior leaders, we talk about how there's not really very many places where you can go and be in a position to both give and receive. I get a whole beck of a lot out of this group."
Betty Tucker, AWF's president, is the director of development of the Myeloma Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and, as wife of Jim Guy Tucker, is the former First Lady of Arkansas. She said it wasn't AWF's intention to become elitists. A group of founding members simply decided to quietly focus on making the organization a catalyst for camaraderie and professional growth.
"The essence of the group is women empowering and nurturing other women," Tucker said. "It's just a wonderful opportunity to meet women from all over Arkansas and put our heads together and think about where we as women and leaders need to go."
According to its Web site, the International Women's Forum was founded in 1982 and now reaches five continents, 21 nations and 60 affiliated forum locations such as Arkansas'. There are more than 3,800 members from the Middle East to middle America.
Tucker said AWF has never been larger The group has grown about 70 percent from only 30 members in the last few years.
Nearly 17 percent of its members are in law and politics, but AWF represents a diverse group of sectors and talents. About 70 percent of its members are from Little Rock, and the largest other concentration is in northwest Arkansas, where there are six.
Two of the group's members have died: Johnnie Holcomb, who worked in investment banking at Stephens Inc., and Betsy Blass, who died in late October. Blass was a well-known philanthropist in Little Rock.
Don't Call Us
No one joins AWF. It calls you.
Tucker said AWF doesn't cap its membership per se. But between the handful of additions selected each year, and older participants gradually taking their memberships "inactive," the annual net growth is typically only a few people.
AWF's nominating committee adheres to IWF guidelines. It looks for women who are directly responsible for policymaking decisions in their organizations.
Diane Alderson of El Dorado said nominees should be at the top of their fields. Alderson is a longtime philanthropist and was only the second female University of Arkansas trustee when she served from 1972-1984.
"I imagine we're very much what it used to be like in the old Victorian smoking parlor where the men went and talked," Alderson said. "Our gatherings are about the only time we don't have to be responsive to someone else."
Rebecca Garner, president and chief investment officer of Garrison Asset Management in Fayetteville, is the incoming president for 2006-07. She describes AWF's value to prospective members this way:
"I say, 'How often do you go into a room or meeting where whatever energy is in the room is what you created?' For these women, it's usually every time. That's draining, and sometimes you just get all the energy sucked out of you. This group breathes it back in."
Nominations are made in the spring and put to a vote in June or July. Selections require a nomination and a second, typically by someone in the nominee's region.
AWF meets as many as eight times per year, but members are only required to attend two of those meetings. Garner said most of the time is spent sharing ideas.
"There's no secret handshake or anything," Garner said. "We're all so old that we'd forget it anyway."
AWF members get passionate talking about their group. Jo Luck, president and CEO of Heifer International, demonstrated her zeal for AWF during the first week of November.
Even after an exhausting 16-hour plane trip home from Geneva, Switzerland, Luck made time to return a call about AWF.
"When you put so many dynamic leaders and accomplished people in the room together, it raises the entire level of IQ, the skills, the compassion and commitment to making a difference, not just in our state and country but in the world," Luck said. "Our members are not just interested in Arkansas, but in global issues."
Heifer International sponsored AWF's anniversary event Nov. 4-5 at The Peabody in Little Rock. The weekend included tours of the Clinton Presidential Library and Heifer International.
Luck and inactive member Betty Bumpers, the founder of Peace Links and wife of former governor and U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, have received IWF awards for being "women who've made a difference."
Vicki Stephens is president of C.C. Jones Trucking Inc. and the first woman in the 72-year history of the Arkansas Trucking Association to serve as its chairman.
She said it's a thrill to be part of a group that is Arkansas history.
"I'm used to being the minority in the room, and that's really what we share at AWF," Stephens said. "We all understand the unspoken stuff. Women leaders have to maintain a persona, but in that room, we're all the same."
The Arkansas Women's Forum The following is an alphabetical roster of members of the Arkansas Women's Forum, a statewide leadership and networking organization based in Little Rock: Name Title City Affiliation Diane Gunn Alderson * El Dorado The Rocking "A" Ranch managing partner Sharon Allen Little Rock Arkansas Blue Cross president & CEO & Blue Shield Susan Davis Allen Jonesboro Arkansas State vice chancellor for research University and academic affairs Kay Kelley Arnold Little Rock Entergy Services Inc. vice president, public affairs Margaret Bogle Little Rock USDA Agri Research executive director Service's LMDNIRI division ** Diane Bray Little Rock SEA Tropics Inc. president Bettye Caldwell ([dagger]) Little Rock UALR/UAMS distinguished professor emeritus/professor emeritus Mary Ann Campbell Little Rock Money Magic Inc. president Janet Cathey Little Rock Little Rock Gynecology doctor Associates Sandra Wilson Cherry Little Rock U.S. Attorney's office first assistant U.S. attorney Hillary Clinton Washington, U.S. Senate ([dagger][dagger]) D.C. New York senator Frances Cranford Little Rock philanthropy philanthropist Nancy DeLamar Little Rock South Central Division- director of external affairs The Nature Conservancy Betty Dickey Little Rock Arkansas State Supreme associate justice Court Linda Dillman Bentonville Wal-Mar Stores Inc. executive vice president, chief information officer Martha Dixon Arkadelphia Dixon Manufacturing Inc. president Jeri Dunn Springdale Tyson Foods Inc. senior vice president, chief information officer Joyce Elliott Little Rock Arkansas State House state representative of Representatives Olivia Farrell Little Rock Arkansas Business chairman & CEO Publishing Group Inc. Barbara Finley Fordyce Fordyce Chamber of executive director Commerce Jimmy Lou Fisher ([dagger]) Little Rock State of Arkansas retired state treasurer, gubernatorial candidate Karen Flake Little Rock Flake, Wilkerson Market chairman & CEO Insights Rebecca Garner Fayetteville Garrison Asset president, chief investment officer Management Shelia Gomez Little Rock Catholic Charities director Mary Good Little Rock UALR College of dean Information Science & Systems Engineering Sue Griffin Little Rock UAMS, Reynolds Center of professor Aging Ruth Hawkins Jonesboro Arkansas State director of Delta heritage University initiatives Stacy Hurst Little Rock City of Little Rock city director Sun Lee Little Rock American Taekwondo chairman Association Blanche Lincoln (#) Washington, U.S. Senate U.S. senator D.C. Betty Lower ([dagger]) Little Rock Arkansas Children's emeritus medical director/ Hospital/UAMS associate dean emeritus Jo Luck Little Rock Heifer International president & CEO Inc. Diane Mackey (##) Little Rock UAMS College of Public assistant dean for Health organizational and institutional affairs Margaret McEntire Little Rock Candy Bouquet president International Elise Mitchell ([section]) Fayetteville Mitchell Communications president Group Inc. Roberta Monson Little Rock UAMS associate dean Beverly Morrow Pine Bluff TLM Management owner Maria Johnson Norris Little Rock Aristotle Inc. CEO Annett Pagan Little Rock Winrock International managing director-U.S. programs Becky Paneitz Bentonville NorthWest Arkansas president Community College Nan Plummer Little Rock Arkansas Arts Center director Linus Raines ([subsection] Little Rock Green Stamp America Inc. director of business development Janet M. Roderick Little Rock UALR Arkansas Small executive director Business Development Center Mary Gay Shipley Blytheville That Bookstore in owner Blytheville Dana Silaski Little Rock Stephens Inc. managing director Esther Silver-Parker Bentonville Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vice president of diversity relations Liz Smith Blytheville Blytheville/Gosnell Area executive director Chamber of Commerce Vicki Stephens North Little C.C. Jones Trucking Inc. president Rock Stephanie Streett Little Rock William J. Clinton executive director Foundation Betty Tucker Little Rock Myeloma Institute, UAMS director of development Millie Ward Little Rock Stone Ward president Jennifer Wilson-Harvey Little Rock Wilson and Associates chief operating officer Susan Webber Wright Little Rock U.S. District Court, chief justice Eastern District Notes: USDA--United States Department of Agriculture. UALR--University of Arkansas at Little Rock. UAMS--University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. * Business located in Santa Fe, N.M. ** The Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative. ([dagger]) Retired. ([dagger][dagger]) Member emeritus. (#) Home office is in Little Rock. (##) Also director of the JD/MPH dual degree program through UALR's William Bowen School of Law. ([section]) Also co-owner of Exective Communication Consultants LLC of Fayetteville. ([subsection]) Business located in New York, N.Y. Source: The Arkansas Women's Forum
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|Article Type:||Panel Discussion|
|Date:||Dec 5, 2005|
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