Blake Woolsey of Fayetteville, formerly an executive vice president at Fayetteville public relations firm Mitchell, is now working in a communications role for Heartland Forward in Bentonville.
Woolsey said she’s worked part-time for the think-and-do tank since this past spring, ramping up to join the research organization full time in August.
“While I don’t have a finalized job description and offer, I hope nothing will keep me from starting Aug. 1,” Woolsey wrote in an email to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Nothing would bring me greater joy or a sense of purpose than helping the Heartland states in our country, especially when it comes to our economy.”
Heartland Forward is the first U.S. think tank focused exclusively on the economic situation of the Heartland region. It is spearheaded by members of the Walton family and led by former Walton Fellow and Milken Institute chief research officer Ross DeVol.
In January 2018, Woolsey resigned from Mitchell, where she was a long-tenured executive and worked with company co-founder Elise Mitchell for nearly 20 years.
After departing Mitchell, Woolsey set up her own consulting business called Blake Communications Inc.
A Texas native, Woolsey was a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s inaugural class of Forty Under 40 honorees in 1997. At the time, she was six months into her job as a senior development officer at the University of Arkansas’ College of Business Administration. Perhaps her greatest achievement while at the UA was participating in and receiving a gift of $50 million from The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation Inc. — the charitable program created by the family of Walmart founder Sam M. Walton — in 1998. It was the most significant gift, at that time, ever made to an American business school. It resulted in a new name for the business school, the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Through her community involvement, Woolsey eventually formed a friendship and then a working relationship with Elise Mitchell. The two co-owned Executive Communication Consultants LLC for several years while Woolsey maintained duties at the UA. In 2008, ECC became part of Mitchell Communications Group, launched by Mitchell in Fayetteville in 1995, and Woolsey left the UA to join Mitchell full time.
Woolsey was appointed to the Northwest Arkansas National Airport board of directors in 2015. She has served as board chairwoman since 2018.