Each day, Susie Shinn tells the story of 19,000 children in the Bentonville Public Schools, raises funds and supports innovative classroom projects for their futures.
Shinn completed her first year as the Bentonville Schools Foundation’s first full-time executive director in April.
“I focus on what’s going to make Bentonville Public Schools a better place for students,” Shinn says. “Teachers come to us for grants to implement interesting ideas to improve classrooms for their students. I am a product of public schools, which is a huge motivating factor. They’re our future; we should set them up for the best success that we can.”
She focuses on forming strong relationships and connecting donors’ interests to facets of the foundation’s mission.
A Tulsa native, Shinn earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in public administration.
One of Shinn’s first positions was in marketing and public relations for the Community Clinic in Springdale. In 2011, she became director of development for Habitat for Humanity in Pulaski County.
“I knew little about fundraising at that point. Luckily there was a wonderful network of Habitat chapters throughout the country, and I was able to learn from many of those great fundraisers and people in the Little Rock area who had been doing fundraising for a long time and felt the need to mentor me,” Shinn says. “I fell upward, learned on the job, and I’m still learning.”
Shinn went on to serve as director of annual giving for Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock and later held development jobs working with the Razorback Foundation and UAMS. She helped fundraise for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank’s $25 million capital campaign. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas.