Heartland Forward in Bentonville announced the hiring Wednesday (June 23) of a native Arkansan as the organization’s first full-time fundraiser.
Paige Jernigan is the nonprofit’s new director of development. According to a news release, she will lead Heartland Forward’s efforts to raise funding for the organization supporting its research and program work aimed at accomplishing the mission of improving the economic performance of the center of the U.S.
Jernigan will work together with Blake Woolsey, chief communications and development officer of Heartland Forward, which now has nine full-time employees.
“The first thing I noticed when vetting Paige as a candidate is her passion for the Heartland as well as her entrepreneurial spirit and forward-thinking mindset,” Woolsey said in a statement. “While she has loved living in London and New York City, it is obvious her roots are tied to the Heartland as a native of Pine Bluff. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her joining this team as we work to achieve a mission serving so many at such a critical time in our economy. She is all about finding solutions, connecting the people who can make it happen and acting upon it.”
Jernigan started her career as a telecom equity research analyst at Goldman Sachs. She is a strategic advisor to disaster relief tech startup Everest Effect and created a mentoring/work program for high school students to work with its two female founders.
Jernigan also advises PeopleShores, a tech services outsourcing company enabling disadvantaged youth in underserved communities training and jobs in tech services. She’s also a founding member of the Delta Arts District, an impact collaboration creating consumer packaged goods from the Arkansas/Mississippi Delta which include Yazoo Yaupon Tea, Yaupon Brothers American Tea Company, and Ilex Organics.
Jernigan has served as a trustee to three independent schools in both London and the U.S., helping create and execute capital campaign and annual fund initiatives. She graduated from Hollins (Va.) University and received an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“It is a thrill to be back in my home state to help with the important work of economic renewal in the middle of the country,” Jernigan said. “I believe all humans are entrepreneurs, thinkers and doers, yet too few have access to the tools and knowledge to execute on their ideas and dreams. Being part of the team to help turn Heartland Forward’s research into action is an honor.”
Launched in 2019, 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.