Grab a seat in the C-suite and get to know the executives heading up the SWLS opening session on Oct. 2 and leading their industries while they're at it.
Vice President and General Counsel, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) & Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI)
Industry: Energy and utility services
Founded: AECC: 1949; AECI 1942
Employees: 650 combined; with subsidiaries, 2,000+
Life motto: You will never regret taking the high road.
Qualities that got you where you are today: Hard work, drive, self-awareness and a self-deprecating sense of humor
Career moment you felt you were on the right track: I have them daily; every time I see how my work improved other people's lives.
Hardest lesson to learn: To quote Benjamin Franklin, "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."
Easiest career decision you ever made: Joining AECC/AECI while four months pregnant with my second child
Change you'd like to see in your industry: More women and people of color in leadership positions (ArkansasWomenInPower.org)
Why you chose to be part of the Soirée Women's Leadership Symposium: Focusing on women in middle- and upper-management positions and connecting them to each other is a way to get more women in middle- and upper-management positions. Empowered women empower women. I like being around smart, talented and engaging people, and the SWLS allows me to do that.
Chief Legal Officer, Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority
Industry: Municipal wastewater
Life motto: I believe I’m ultimately responsible for my happiness — personally and professionally — so I am intentional about creating positivity, growth and balance in all aspects of my life.
Qualities that got you where you are today: Drive, hard work and delivering results
Career moment you felt you were on the right track: This moment. I’ve been a part of LRWRA’s senior leadership team for four years. I’ve grown tremendously as an executive during that time and continue to daily. I liken it to the villain in a Disney movie when they’re literally growing with power, except instead of growing with evil, I’m growing with knowledge, insights, experience and judgment. And I’m not a villain.
Hardest lesson to learn: To own and fully occupy your seat at the table
Easiest career decision you ever made: To go to law school. When law school was first suggested to me, the reason given was “the versatility of a law degree.” That reason, simple yet compelling, immediately resonated with me. I’ve never regretted my decision to go or my chosen profession.
Change you'd like to see in your industry: More women and people of color. A 2018 Brookings Institute report revealed women account for 14.9% of the water/wastewater workforce and people of color account for 35%. I believe those numbers should be significantly higher, and that women and people of color should be reflected across all professional and leadership spectrums of my industry.
Why you chose to be part of the Soirée Women's Leadership Symposium: I was impressed by the vision, mission and execution of the inaugural event, and the monthly Work Wife online newsletter that spun out of it. I’m a big proponent of women supporting women and the Women’s Leadership Symposium does that.
President & CEO, Entergy Arkansas
Industry: Electric Utility
Life motto or general rule you live your life by: Advice from my father. “Don’t just accept responsibility, chase it down.”
Qualities that got you where you are today: Strong work ethic, determination, resiliency and respect for others
Career moment you felt you were on the right track: When I was named president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas
Hardest lesson to learn: Learning what not to do from failure or mistakes is a tough pill to swallow, but often the best lesson to learn, professionally and personally.
Easiest career decision you ever made: Pursuing a law degree was the most natural career decision I have ever made.
Change you'd like to see in your industry: More women leading change and innovation in the industry.
Why you chose to be part of the Soirée Women's Leadership Symposium: To connect with and generate a strong coalition of women to help lead change in our community,
Chief Operating Officer, Rock Dental Brands
Life motto: These are words I share with my twin boys as well what I live by in my professional life. Put me in coach. Be eager on the bench, have gratitude for your position, be ready and willing when others aren't and hustle no matter what.
Qualities that got you where you are today: Grit, a relentless pursuit to get the job done and then wake up and do it again, eternal optimism and insatiable curiosity
Career moment you felt you were on the right track: In 2009, I embarked on a terrifying career move. I accepted a lateral position in New Jersey, a mere 1,200 miles from friends and family. I knew it was time to take a risk and bet on myself if I wanted to continue to grow and progress professionally. It was a transformational time both personally and professionally and it paid off in dividends.
Hardest lesson to learn: Things that seem impossible at the time seem inevitable in retrospect.
Easiest career decision you ever made: The easiest decision I ever made was also the most difficult. After 18 years in the telecommunications industry and a series of cross-country moves, I knew it was time to move "home" and allow my twin boys to have the roots they deserved. Leaving a career I loved was difficult, but opened up new doors and opportunities for me to learn a new industry. Rock Dental Brands has created an entirely new chapter of growth and learning for me and I am very grateful to be a part of this dynamic industry.
Change you'd like to see in your industry: Dentistry is not traditionally known for being convenient. I would like to see the industry evolve and leverage the digital revolution to make oral health as seamless and simple as possible for patients, whether it's online scheduling or virtual diagnostics and appointments.
Why you chose to be part of the Soirée Women's Leadership Symposium: You should always put yourself in a position to win, and what better way to win than by surrounding yourself with smart, talented women in the pursuit to continuously learn and grow?