The impact and causes of hunger and poverty in Arkansas are the focus of the upcoming Under 40 Forum conducted by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service.
The forum, scheduled for Feb. 20-21, at the Rockefeller Institute campus on Petit Jean Mountain, invites recent Forty Under 40 honorees of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and Arkansas Business to “collaboratively examine issues facing Arkansas and identify strategies they themselves, and their workplaces, can employ to address those issues.”
“Our goal with the 2020 Under 40 Forum is to illuminate root causes of hunger and poverty in our state, and ask the Under 40 leaders to think collaboratively about how they can take responsibility and action in their communities.,” Janet Harris, chief programs and marketing officer for the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, said in a statement. “We are grateful for the participating Under 40 honorees’ commitment to being informed, being thoughtfully concerned, and participating in the search for solutions as Winthrop Rockefeller challenged us to do.”
Ronnie Dedman, president of AT&T Arkansas, will speak about the company’s “Believe Arkansas” initiative to fight hunger in Arkansas, which is part of AT&T’s national effort to inspire change in communities. Specifically, Dedman is expected to talk about how company leaders have taken direct action to address poverty and hunger in their respective communities.
The group will in the two days participate in three sessions, including a “Bridges out of Poverty” workshop conducted by Monieca West. Following are other speakers scheduled for the forum.
• Kathy Webb, AR Hunger Relief Alliance
• Emily English, assistant professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and core partner for Arkansas Farm to School Network
• Nate Coulter, Central Arkansas Library System executive director and partner in “Be Mighty” campaign to connect children to after-school and summer meals
The group will also engage in a session using the National Issues Forum’s Land of Plenty issue guide that examines policy options to ensure that food systems work for everyone. The dialogue will be led by Institute staff and Clinton School students.
“Though poverty and hunger continue to be major challenges in Arkansas, it’s worth highlighting some important work being done including that of Clinton School graduate Emily English who is one of the panelists,” said Clinton School Dean James “Skip” Rutherford. “We’re pleased to join the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in sponsoring this forum.”
Recommendations and strategies from the forum will be provided to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other top political leaders. Following are the topics addressed in recent years.
2019: Pursuing racial equity and how to build a more inclusive Arkansas
2018: Building a Better Brand for Arkansas
2017: ”Fractured Arkansas” – identifying the various barriers that keep Arkansas divided, be they geographic, social, or political
2016: Recruitment and retention of young business talent in Arkansas