United Way of NWA announces new board chair

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,256 views 

Helena Gadison

The nonprofit group United Way of Northwest Arkansas (UWNWA) announced Monday (Jan. 10) the election of Helena Gadison as board chair. The appointment was effective Jan. 1.

Gadison succeeds Tyson Foods executive Joe Lloyd, who will continue to serve on the board. According to a news release, Gadison is the first woman and African American to lead the UWNWA board.

United Way has been serving Northwest Arkansas since 1931 when Community Chests supported families in need. United Way affiliates in Washington and Benton counties merged in 2007 to create the current United Way of Northwest Arkansas.

Board officers serve a one-year term. The appointment can be renewed for an additional year.

“We are excited to have Helena begin her term as board chair,” UWNWA president and CEO Jackie Hancock said in a statement. “She is a dynamic individual and will bring her energy and strengths to the chair position. I am looking forward to Helena’s service along with our other passionate and committed board members.”

Gadison, a board member since 2019, served the UWNWA in various capacities for five years including volunteer and committee chair. She was Volunteer of the Year in 2017.

She served on the board for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, White River School of Massage, University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, New Design School and was appointed to the John Brown University Soderquist College of Business Advisory Board in March 2021.

Since August 2019, she has held a senior sales role for Conair LLC, a multibillion-dollar company headquartered in Stamford, Conn. Before that, she spent more than two decades working in leadership roles for Walmart and Lane Bryant, holding positions as vice president, Walmart International Apparel Merchandising, and as a company spokesperson in Washington, D.C., New York and Tokyo.

For a decade, she has been a highly requested speaker and facilitator on the topics of leadership, personal branding, networking, dining etiquette and dressing for success.

Gadison earned a master’s degree in leadership and a bachelor’s degree in communications from John Brown University. She also studied music and performing arts at the University of Arkansas.

Gadison will serve alongside fellow United Way of Northwest Arkansas board members:

  • Andrew Thompson, First Church United Methodist Church of Springdale (Vice Chair)
  • Kent Williamson, Arvest Bank (Treasurer)
  • Missy Cole, City of Fayetteville (Secretary)
  • Joe Lloyd, Tyson Foods
  • David Vaden, EY
  • Betsy Smyth, Legacy National Bank
  • Kathleen Trotter, retired, Krysalis Consulting
  • Kim Needy, University of Arkansas College of Engineering
  • Megan Duncan, Fayetteville Public Schools
  • Chad Chance, Point Financial Group
  • Mark Ryan, Arvest Bank
  • Mike Baker, United Parcel Service
  • Chad Kinsley, Black Hills Energy

United Way of Northwest Arkansas covers Benton, Washington and Madison counties and aims to help individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives. Key initiatives are Arkansas 211 and the Community Investment Grants focusing on empowering ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) families.