Education: A.A., Westark Community College; B.S., business administration, M.L.A, communications, Arkansas Tech University
Professional background: Walker has about 16 years’ experience in higher education and has worked at John Brown University since 2008. Her previous jobs were as director of marketing and communications at University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (2001–2007) and coordinator of information services at Arkansas Tech (1996–2000).
What motivated you to choose the field of higher education? I was a student ambassador in college and got hooked on higher education. I love everything about the college experience. I took a brief hiatus for a better paying job but realized that success is about much more than your paycheck; it’s about your quality of life.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date? What are you most proud of? I love it when students “get it” for the first time — when you see them fall in love with learning, and you know their lives are going to be different because they’re opening up their minds to new things.
What drives you to succeed? I’m an extreme Type A personality, so being driven has never been in question. But as I grow older I’m more driven by finding my work/life balance and having time for community involvement.
What do you plan to accomplish professionally during the next year? We’re launching several new and revamped degree programs this fall, so my hope is that we’ll see higher enrollments and, more importantly, more lives changed.
What role does your faith play in your professional life? I’m very lucky that I’m able to integrate my faith into my job each and every day. My relationship with Christ is such a part of who I am that I can’t imagine having to separate it from my work.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career, and have you overcome it? Leadership is always a work in progress, but my biggest challenges come when business decisions involve personnel changes. That’s always tough. And I pray that I never become hardened to that.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why? My mom was a woman of deep faith who instilled in me a great work ethic; my dear friend Estella Tullgren, [major gifts officer, Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home], helped me find my philanthropic heart and passion for giving back; and my best friend Krista Khone, [vice president of special projects and leadership at the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce], helped me understand that business and community are inextricably linked.
At JBU, I greatly admire our vice president of finance/administration, Dr. Kim Hadley, because she handles tough situations with grace, mercy and abundant prayer.
Also, participating in Soderquist Leadership’s Milestone program was truly life-changing for me personally and for my career.
If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be titled? “I Want To Do It All. But I Also Want To Do Absolutely Nothing.” I am the busiest/laziest person you’ll ever meet.
What are the attributes of a good leader? Authenticity, integrity and never asking of others what they’re not willing to do themselves.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten? Use all your vacation days. Finding a work/life balance isn’t only important to your health and well-being, it’s also essential to your happiness and long-term success. Nobody wants a stressed-out boss.
What aspect of your work do you most enjoy? I’ve heard that vision is what keeps you up at night, but mission is what gets you out of bed. That’s so true. Completing a college degree is life-changing — not just for the individual, but for the family, too. And there’s nothing more gratifying than getting to be a part of that.
What is your favorite part of living in Northwest Arkansas? I consider myself an unofficial member of the Northwest Arkansas “street team.” I’m obsessed with this community and love telling others how great it is to live here. But my favorite thing about Northwest Arkansas is the wonderful network of friends I’ve made here; I am never lonely or without plans (unless I choose to be).