The Jones Center hires longtime Crystal Bridges fundraiser for top development job

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,678 views 

Emily Ironside

The Jones Center in Springdale has hired longtime fundraising executive Emily Ironside as its new chief development officer.

For the past decade, Ironside held various fundraising leadership roles at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary in Bentonville, most recently as head of strategic philanthropy.

According to a news release Wednesday (April 19), Ironside led the museum’s development team during a period of significant growth, facilitating a 215% increase in contributed revenue and launching the Momentary’s fundraising program.

Before working at the museum, Ironside was the annual giving manager at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, where she helped grow contributions by 17% in two years. She has held leadership roles at the University of Arkansas, Walmart International and YMCA of the Rockies.

Ironside’s new job reunites her with Terri Trotter, who worked in several roles at Walton Arts Center from 1998 to 2014, including chief operating officer.  Trotter succeeded Ed Clifford as president and CEO of The Jones Center in early 2022.

“We’re thrilled to have Emily in this key role on our executive team,” Trotter said in a statement. “She has a passion for Springdale and Northwest Arkansas and a heart for inclusive community building. Her enthusiasm for our mission of fueling community connections is already making a meaningful difference as she connects supporters with the work of The Jones Center.”

Ironside was raised in Rogers but was born in Springdale and has strong ties to the city. According to the release, both her grandmothers and her mother were teachers at Central Junior High School. Ironside’s husband, Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, is also a Springdale native.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to serve a community that is near and dear to my heart,” Ironside said. “The Jones Center is a trusted gathering place for local families and community groups. As Springdale and our region grow and our community’s needs shift, we have an exciting opportunity and responsibility to reimagine the ways we serve. I’m grateful to be a part of such a transformative chapter for The Jones Center.”

Ironside is a member and past board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of Northwest Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named her a Forty Under 40 honoree in 2021.