LeadAR participants announced

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 952 views 

LeadAR, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s leadership program, has selected 21 Arkansans from around the state as members of Class 20. The 18-month program provides an in-depth learning experience about economic and social issues impacting Arkansas.

Operated by the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, LeadAR was founded in 1984 and originally modeled after the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s leadership training program. LeadAR now has more than 500 alumni serving as leaders in their communities throughout Arkansas.

Members of Class 20 will participate in a team-building and goal-setting seminar at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock to kick off the program. Over the next 18 months, they will travel to two-day seminars around the state, covering topics such as infrastructure and public health, natural resources, agriculture, livestock and community and economic development.

“The overall goal of LeadAR is to equip leaders with the knowledge, skills and network they need to make a difference in their communities or organization,” said Julie Robinson, extension associate professor for Community, Professional and Economic Development for the Division of Agriculture. “They will learn about issues affecting rural and urban areas of Arkansas and how the state is interwoven.”

The program includes a national study tour to Washington, D.C., where participants will learn about policy development and meet with their congressional delegation to discuss issues impacting their communities. Members will also travel on an international study tour, where they will learn how international issues and policy decisions impact the United States and Arkansas. The location of the trip will be decided in 2024.

The members of LeadAR Class 20 include county extension agents with the Division of Agriculture, directors of Arkansas non-profits and leaders of Arkansas businesses.

LeadAR is supported by program alumni, corporate donors, foundations and the Division of Agriculture. The cost to participants is $3,500, which covers seminar expenses, most lodging, meals and travel expenses. Class members are encouraged to seek tuition support from outside sources, such as their employer, and scholarships are available to help participants with payment.

LeadAR Class 20 members:

  • Rachel Bearden, Hot Spring County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
  • Sherry Beaty-Sullivan, Polk County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
  • Chelsea Boozer, government affairs manager for Central Arkansas Water
  • Arnetta Bradford, owner of HeBrews 11:1 coffee shop in Hope
  • Sylvia Brown, director of strategic operations for the Ruralorganizing.org Education Fund
  • Harold Clark Jr., battalion fire chief for Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services
  • Angelique Cooper, community partnerships for Southern Bancorp
  • Meagan Davis, vice president of government relations and strategic partnerships for inVeritas
  • Jody Harris, co-owner of Harris Valley Springs Farm
  • Jason Kaufman, district director of Arkansas Farm Bureau
  • David Long, northwest Arkansas director of engineering and development for Cromwell Architects Engineers
  • Michael Mangrum, owner of MLM Farms in Lake City
  • Desarae Nelson, director of TRIO Student Support Services for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Winfrey Norton, outreach editor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service
  • Daniel Phillips, state surveyor for the Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services
  • Wendell Scales Jr., deputy director of innovation for Arkansas Lighthouse Charter Schools
  • Christel Taylor, director of workforce and downtown development for the Newport Economic Development Commission
  • Priscella Thomas-Scott, extension instructor and 4-H events coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
  • Dan Villamor, research scientist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
  • Stacy Walley, southern lumber sales manager for Weyerhaeuser Company
  • Anthony Whittington, director of parks and trails for the City of Hot Springs.