Nonprofit Executive of the Year.
Angela Duran says two things set her on the course to become president of Southern Good Faith Fund: her parents and grandparents, who had roots in Bradley County in southeast Arkansas, and attending Catholic schools, which instilled in her the values she holds today.
"I believe we're here on earth to give and to serve, and that's what I try to do," she said.
Duran, with the Southern Good Faith Fund since 1998, took over as president three years ago during a time of economic crisis. During the go-go days of the 1990s, the budget had grown to a point that was not sustainable, forcing Duran to makes cuts in staff and programs.
Despite a smaller staff, she has managed to nearly double the total number of people served by the fund, which is part of Southern Bancorp's family of nonprofit organizations.
The secrets of success, Duran says, are hard work and having a great team. "It's all about the team effort. No leader ever did it all by herself."
She was instrumental in lobbying the Arkansas Legislature to establish individual development accounts, which are matched savings accounts for working poor families trying to buy a first home, pay for postsecondary education or job training, or start their own business. Duran is also working with Southeast Arkansas College at Pine Bluff to develop a Career Pathways program. The state liked her model--which helps move low-income adults up the career ladder through educational programs that enable them to combine school and work and advance to better jobs--well enough to ask her to replicate it at several other community colleges. The Transitional Employment Board has allocated $16 million to develop the model program at 10 additional community colleges.
Duran, who says she most admires Jo Luck, the CEO at Heifer International, finds time to serve on several boards and committees in the state, and she's on two national boards.
Phyllis Haynes, Arkansas Foodbank Network Little Rock
Running a nonprofit organization fits Phyllis Haynes like a glove.
Not only has she spent her entire career in the public sector, but she is motivated by making an impact on people's lives, which she is in prime position to do as head of the Arkansas Foodbank Network.
"I believe it is our responsibility as individuals in a society to ensure that all people in that society have even/opportunity to achieve their dreams," she said. "I am driven by a work ethic that finds reward in contributing to humankind."
And that's a good thing, considering that more than 11 percent of Arkansans count on some kind of emergency food assistance each year.
Haynes has been a leader in the development of a statewide association of food banks called the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which secured an initial $870,000 grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and a $389,000 settlement grant from the Arkansas Attorney General to set up a more efficient network of distributing food to hungry Arkansans throughout the state.
Before Haynes took over in 1999, the Arkansas Foodbank Network was almost 95 percent dependent on one revenue source. Almost seven years later, the number of individual donors has gone from 250 in 1999 to more than 25,000 in 2005.
"We have also expanded grand funding, special events and other donations to further diversify our funding sources," she said.
Continued development of the AHRA network is one of Haynes' plans for the near future, along with securing funds to build a state-of-the-art, green food bank facility that includes trucks, refrigerators and forklifts. Haynes said she'd also like to upgrade the 400-plus member food pantries across the state.
By 2010, Haynes said she'd like to have achieved her goal of cutting hunger in half in Arkansas.
Bonnie White, Mid-South Health Systems Inc. Jonesboro
Bonnie White always was driven to help people.
White, executive director of Mid-South Health Systems Inc. of Jonesboro, started at the agency in 1973 when it was called the George W. Jackson Community Mental Heath Center.
She worked her way up from case manager to executive director in 1980.
"I began to see that there were changes that can occur as a result of mental health services ... [and] as a result of more intense outpatient services," White said.
In 1997, the agency transformed itself from a state agency to a private nonprofit. White said George W. Jackson was the only one of the 15 community mental health centers that the state operated.
"It seemed to be the direction that we needed to go, and that it was going to be a move that would help us expand our services," White said.
Mid-South's revenue has grown from $5 million in 1997 to $32 million currently. A big move came in 1998 when Mid-South was awarded the contract to manage Counseling Services of Eastern Arkansas.
Mid-South serves 6,500 clients in seven counties in northeast Arkansas and serves 3,000 clients for Counseling Services. Mid-South has 350 staff members; Counseling Services has about 150.
White's management style calls for an open-door policy, which she said has worked well.
"It's encouraged the staff to just stop by and share with me some of the experience that they are having on the job," White said. "And I get to hear about the successes and I get to hear about some of the problems they've encountered."
Recently, Mid-South was awarded a $6.5 million federal grant to provide extra services for children and their families in four counties in northeast Arkansas.
White said she sees Mid-South continuing to look at the needs of the area and offer any services that she feels clients should have.
Ben Steinberg, Southern Financial Partners Helena
Ben Steinberg's interest in economic development with a nonprofit twist led him on a globetrotting career path that brought him to Arkansas. His trip began in his native California, shifted to the East Coast and then went abroad for nearly a decade.
Steinberg, 38, graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and international relations from the University of California at Davis and a master's in public affairs from New Jersey's Princeton University.
After a short stint with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., he pursued his yearning for field work. That resulted in assignments to help build a middle class in places such as Armenia and Tanzania.
During an early tour of duty in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, Steinberg stumbled into microfinance and developed a passion for it.
He enjoyed building a self-sustaining loan program established on small, nontraditional loans in underserved markets and seeing the ripple effect of economic development.
In 2003, Steinberg returned to the U.S. and ended up in Little Rock working as a volunteer in Wesley Clark's presidential campaign.
By July 2004, he had found an avenue to take his overseas experience and put it to work domestically: Southern Financial Partners.
The affiliate of Southern Bancorp has helped put together $10 million in grants and loans for the Delta Bridge Project in Helena. The program has helped improve blighted areas of the city, education, housing and tourism to make the city a more attractive place for internal and external investment.
"It's a long and winding path that, I'm happy to say, brought me to Phillips County," Steinberg said. "People are taking renewed interest in the community. There's a momentum that's developing that's really exciting."
Bob Young, Healthy Connections Inc. Mena
In 1995, Bob Young retired after 30 years as a Navy pilot. The Washington state native and his Floridian wife picked Mena as their retirement home after seeing an ad in the Navy Times.
Though he was not yet 50, Young really did intend to retire. But, he said, "I discovered that mental atrophy sets in real quick." In 1998, he got involved with a local group that was trying to address the high rate of teenage pregnancy in Polk County.
He volunteered to write the first grant for the organization that became Healthy Connections Inc. Before that money came through, he had written a second. When the money started to flow, he agreed to become executive director--despite having no background in health care or the world of nonprofits.
"I love it, but it's been a little bit like drinking through a fire hose trying to learn everything you need to know--working with the federal government, working with the medical and dental communities, which are very different. Every day presents something new."
In less than eight years, Healthy Connections has grown from a single program staffed by volunteers to a multifaceted community health organization with 30 employees and an annual budget of $2 million. The medical and dental clinic kept 12,000 patient appointments last year, and Young is investigating the possibility of opening satellite clinics.
Still, the challenges seem unending.
"Even today we find people who are going to the feed store and buying penicillin that is intended for fish or cattle and treating their children with it," he said. "We don't fluoridate our water--it's a Communist plot, you know. And some people won't sign up for ARKids First because they are afraid immunizations will be mandatory."
After more than 10 years, Young said, he has no regrets about becoming an Arkansan and taking on the problems he found here.
"I'd seen the world. Now it was time to maybe do something for it," Young said.
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|Title Annotation:||ARKANSAS BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2005; Southern Good Faith Fund's Angela Duran|
|Comment:||Nonprofit Executive of the Year.(ARKANSAS BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2005)(Southern Good Faith Fund's Angela Duran)|
|Date:||Mar 6, 2006|
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