Every day, Emma Pierce makes a difference in the lives of teachers and students. Through her leadership in implementing strategies in fundraising, special events and grantmaking, she helps generate $300,000 in private, unrestricted donor support annually to support the foundation’s mission of providing Fayetteville Public School students with a nationally competitive education.
“I think public education is important because it’s inclusive,” Pierce said. “Every kid deserves to have an exceptional education, no matter their race, gender or abilities.”
Growing up in Anderson, Mo., with a public school teacher mother, Pierce was interested in education but knew teaching was not her calling. In 2014, she graduated with a general studies degree from Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., then began classes at the University of Arkansas with a workstudy at the foundation. After a year of school, she realized she would rather pursue a career and went to work in Arvest Bank’s customer service.
The foundation’s coordinator position became available in December 2016, and executive director Cambre Horne-Brooks contacted Pierce. Taking the job was easy for Pierce because “mission-driven work” intrigues her. After two years, the foundation promoted her to development coordinator.
Along with fundraising, Pierce is responsible for grantmaking to teachers and student scholarships through the foundation’s $4 million endowment. She also directs the Fayetteville High School Student Alumni Association (SAA), which connects current students with FHS alumni.
“Because we’re such a small shop, I’m able to get involved in different areas, whether that’s building our budget or designing the grant application for teachers, or coming up with marketing plans. I’m able to learn all facets of nonprofits,” she said.
A member of the NWA Fundraising Professionals Affiliate and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Pierce continually strives to be the best and learn something new every day.
“I want to be the person everyone comes to because I have whatever skill-set they may need, and so I keep challenging myself to build my resume for the future and learn so I can be a more well-rounded professional,” she said.
Philanthropic at heart, Pierce volunteers with a variety of charity events in the region. She also serves on the Fayetteville chamber’s teen leadership planning committee and is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Fayetteville.
In her downtime, Pierce reads a new book each month and enjoys hiking and camping.