Then & Now: Peggy Boyles supports Crystal Bridges’ growth

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,436 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.


Peggy Boyles has been a fundraiser for multiple Northwest Arkansas organizations over the past 20 years, including the University of Arkansas and, most recently, for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

She joined the Bentonville museum in October as a development officer and was promoted to senior development officer in February.

After learning about the job opening at the museum last year, she was unsure of her chances of landing the role amid a large applicant pool.

“I’ve always wanted to work at Crystal Bridges. But it’s Crystal Bridges, so it’s like, ‘OK, you’re not going to get hired at Crystal Bridges.’ I’m sure the pool is just vast,” she said. “But I was like, ‘OK, might as well try.’ I tried, and I got the job. And I absolutely love it there.”

When the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named Boyles to the Forty Under 40 class in 2008, she was director of development in the UA’s student affairs division. She started working for the university while attending classes and began as a fundraiser in 2002.

Boyles, 53, pointed to where she started in her fundraising career as the highlight so far. During the university’s Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, Boyles was critical in the Sam M. Walton College of Business’ success in raising over $223 million.

“That was a fun time,” she said. “The University of Arkansas raising $1 billion in a fundraising campaign that was unheard of. That had never happened before in the state of Arkansas.”

In 2012, she left the UA to become head of development at The New School in Fayetteville. She was looking for a change, and the opportunity led her to the new role.

“It was a new challenge working with different families and constituents,” she said. “I had never worked at a private, independent school before, so that was a different opportunity and a different challenge for me.”

After her role at The New School, Boyles attended graduate school full-time. In 2015, she earned a Master of Arts in management and leadership from Webster University. The De Queen native previously earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the UA. While not something she plans to start immediately, she said she would like to earn a doctorate.

After completing graduate school, she had some savings and took time to travel and volunteer in the community.

Boyles is a board member for Outcomes Inc. and the Northwest Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council. Over the past two years, the organization has helped with COVID-19 vaccinations and provided a volunteer food pantry that includes back-to-school activities. She’s also a member of the Northwest Arkansas alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

In 2018, she joined Arkansas Support Network as director of development. A friend recommended her for the role after she started looking for a job.

Boyles joked that the savings don’t last forever.

“It was great while it lasted,” she said. “I had a good time.”

Before she joined Crystal Bridges, she had received a notice on social media about an opening there. She said Emily Ironside, who eventually hired her, had sent out information about the job via LinkedIn. Ironside, the head of philanthropic strategy, is a 2021 Forty Under 40 honoree.

In her current role, Boyles works as a fundraiser for the museum. The position includes cultivating donors and stewardship. She also oversees three development officers.

She stepped into her initial role at the museum about six months after it announced plans to increase its size by 50%, adding 100,000 square feet to the 200,000-square-foot building. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

She said the growth would lead to more officers, more space for exhibitions and more fundraising. Boyles said her goals are to expand the program and to continue to make it more successful. She plans to work for the museum until she retires, which she joked would be in her 80s.

Boyles enjoys watching shows on the Investigation Discovery channel. She also likes to read. She and her daughter, Autumn Blakely, reside in Springdale.