Doug White Leaves the Light On at Ronald McDonald House

Doug White has always enjoyed a good adventure, be it physical or mental. He’s a hiker, camper, canoeist and kayaker. “I play golf and tennis, fish a bit and am working on a screenplay.”

This fall, White, along with pals Doug Evans and Bret Curry, will hike the 220-mile Ouachita National Trail. “We’ve talked about this for a couple of years,” he said. “We figure we can hike the entire Ouachita National Trail (from Pinnacle to the Oklahoma border) in two weeks, good Lord willin’. I plan to keep a blog, and we will photograph along the way.”

A native of Tulsa, he obtained his bachelor’s degrees in journalism and marketing from Oklahoma University, and then completed 90 percent of his master’s degree in linguistics. He’s currently pursuing the final 10 percent. “I love the study of language (Noam Chomsky, and the like), as well as the physiology, sociology and other disciplines involved with this miracle of communication we humans possess!”

White got his start in the electric cooperative industry in 1987 in Stillwater, Okla. He fell in love with the industry, later following it to Vinita, Okla., and finally to Arkansas in 1996. After 14 years in The Natural State, White considers himself an Arkansan. “I love the state, love the city and all we have here.”

As the current vice president of systems services for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), White is a spokesperson, the guy who appears on television, radio or in print after disaster strikes the state and electricity is lost. It’s a challenging role. “How do you best represent your ‘product’ or ‘service’ (electricity) in the darkest of times,” he asks. “My credo is tell them what I know, share as much information as possible and emphasize that our employees—those linemen out there—are also members of the cooperative, and we all want to get the power on as quickly and safely as possible.”

A typical day for White may hold a handful of different responsibilities. “It is…what is the expression…controlled chaos,” he said. “We have marketing and communications in our division. But I also manage the economic development and community development duties, as well as the safety training program. [My] day might include a speaking engagement across the state; or a TV appearance during an outage; or designing a new ad, featuring energy efficiency; or writing a column for our magazine, Rural Arkansas.”

“In my role as the voice (dare I say face?) of the co-ops, I have the pleasure of traveling all over the state and meeting lots of folks,” he said. That’s how he came to find Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas. “I began playing in their golf tournament more than a decade ago,” he said. “It has always been an impressive tournament. It is well-run, played on a beautiful course, and the money raised goes to an absolutely wonderful cause.”

When White’s good friend and current RMHC Board Chairman Tim Carney asked if he’d be interested in sitting on the board, White didn’t hesitate to accept. “I think it was my first meeting where I learned I had volunteered to chair the golf committee, and, voila, here we are getting ready for our annual RMHC Golf Scramble. Thankfully, the foundation has an incredible staff that makes my job a breeze.”

As chair of the tournament, White says he works with Foundation staff to send out letters asking for support and encourages teams to sign up. “This tournament is our second largest fundraiser (behind Chocolate Fantasy Ball), and my personal goal is to fill up on teams and have a successful social night and auction the night before our tournament.”

The event White refers to is the pre-tournament reception and auction that will begin at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, August 22, at Pleasant Valley Country Club. The golf tournament will take place the following day, Monday, with 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. start times.

As an active RMHC board member, White is passionate about the mission of the organization. “We’ve helped almost 20,000 families since we began in 1980, almost 1,000 last year alone. Think about that,” he said. “We help families stay together during the most stressful times of their lives—when one of their young children is sick. The value of having a family to be there for their child during their hospital stay is immeasurable. The staff and leadership are so dedicated, and the volunteers and my fellow board members are just incredible.”

Ronald McDonald Golf Classic

A four-person scramble tournament to benefit RMHC
Reception: 6:30 p.m., Sunday, August 22
Golf tournament: 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday, August 23
Pleasant Valley Country Club

Tickets are $2,500 for a team, which includes beverages and meals, a gift and tickets to the Sunday night reception; reception tickets alone are $50 per person.

For more information about RMHC, or to sign up a team for the tournament or get pre-tournament reception tickets, call Emily Piechocki, 501-978-3119, or email


Fond Fourth memory?

My house burned down during the bicentennial of our country, 1976. Seriously. We lived in a motel while the insurance adjustors worked, and we relocated to an apartment complex that entire summer. The first few nights were terrible—we lost just about all of our possessions in the fire, but no one was hurt. My dad’s 40th birthday was July 9, five days later. I remember the sign on the Holiday Inn said, ‘Happy Birthday, LoLo,’ and he came into our dinky motel room and said that he had to laugh or he would start crying. He didn’t realize it at the time, but his positive attitude amidst total disaster was such a powerful learning experience for my brother and me. Indeed, that summer was one of the most memorable of my life. Funny how life works!

Family? I am so proud of my two daughters. Kelsey just graduated from Hendrix. Mackenzie is a sophomore at Oklahoma State. I am engaged to a wonderful young woman, Tonya Thomas. I love my job, I love my life.

Best day on the job? Today. Corny, but I believe that. Today is a gift, and I feel obligated to treat it as such.

Worst? August 8, 2004. We lost three linemen in a fatal electrical accident from North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (Salem). It reminded us all of how precious life is and just how dangerous the job of a lineman can be.

Best advice you’ve been given? I am not sure who to attribute this to, but I love it and am paraphrasing. The advice is to spend the first third of your life learning, the next third earning, and the last third giving back.

Constant sky watcher? Yes! I subscribe to several e-newsletters on the weather, and have the alerts on my phone. My favorite months are April and October, and that is no coincidence that they are the most benign months in our state!

Whatever the opposite of monotonous is, that is what my job is like.


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