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Under 40 Forum report touts ways to heal state’s ‘fractures’

PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN, Ark. (May 30, 2017) — The 2017 Under 40 Forum report was released this morning by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. The report is being mailed to political, business and community leaders across the state and can be viewed online at www.rockefellerinstitute.org/2017under40report.

The report summarizes the discussions that took place March 2-3 at the Rockefeller Institute at the Under 40 Forum, which invited all 40 Under 40 honorees as designated by the two business publications in 2016 to engage in meaningful dialogue to address “Fractured Arkansas.” The topic sought to explore the various divisions – social, economic, cultural, political, etc. – that divide the state and hinder progress, and to offer solutions to those challenges.

A group of the 2017 Under 40 Forum participants met earlier today with Gov. Asa Hutchinson to discuss the report and expand on their findings.

“After my meeting with the Under 40 honorees at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, I am more confident than ever about the future of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “This generation of leaders have big ideas and the commitment to service that will help bring the ideas into reality. I applaud them for their hard work and clear thinking.”

One of the key issues identified in the report is a need for alternative approaches to education.

“It’s no surprise that education was a key part of the discussion at the Under 40 Forum,” said Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Rockefeller Institute. “This topic was a highlight of their meeting with the governor. They championed a greater commitment to internships and mentorships for high school students. Building bridges between the business community and our schools was a clear priority.”

Another key theme of the report is leadership in cultural competency.

“The need for better understanding across cultural gaps is pretty clear,” said Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. “It was encouraging to have this impressive group of young leaders, from various cultural backgrounds, all working together and all willing to be honest with the governor about what they think is important.”

One of the recommendations in the report is for cultural competency to become a priority not just in the more populated portions of the state, but also in small towns and in corporate board rooms.

The Under 40 Forum began in 2016 as a partnership between the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. It was supported this year by Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, Simmons Bank, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Clinton School.

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. By integrating the resources and expertise of the University of Arkansas System with the legacy and ideas of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, this educational institute and conference center creates an atmosphere where collaboration and change can thrive.

Program areas include Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Civic Engagement, Economic Development, and Health. To learn more, call 501-727-5435, visit the website at www.rockefellerinstitute.org, or stay connected through Twitter and Facebook.

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Our own version of March Madness

March came shooting out of a cannon at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. We put on four programs in March, up from our typical 1-2 per month schedule that we typically adhere to.

We kicked off the month with the second annual Under 40 Forum, which brought some of the state’s brightest young leaders, as designated by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and Arkansas Business, together for a  two-day facilitated discussion on the fractures that divide our state and ways to heal them. The Forum is held in conjunction with the Clinton School of Public Service. One the participants – Eric Wilson, CEO of Noble Impact – offered this feedback on the Forum: “Every state has a 40 Under 40 list, and most of them are photo opportunities and a happy hour. But here in Arkansas, we’re trying to do something more. Instead of just taking a photo, we’re getting everybody together in a room and asking them to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing our state.”

A report detailing the group’s findings is forthcoming and will be distributed to leadership across the state in government, business and communities.

Then about a week later on a cool spring day, more than 65 participants gathered at the Institute for the Business Workshop for Landowners. Part of a partnership with Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprise Program and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, the workshop provided experts with in-the-field knowledge on how to manage the land and look at their land with a different focus.

The morning session included a field tour just a short drive from the Institute on the property of Mr. Henry Jones. The property included 288 acres of short-leaf pine and hardwoods. The property has been in Mr. Jones’ family since 1884 and started out as a cotton field and evolved through the years to some timber property and space for the family to hunt and experience nature. During the field tour, participants enjoyed talks from wildlife biologists, foresters and Mr. Jones discussing the history of the property and different forestry management techniques such as thinning to improve forest stands and disking for wildlife. Mr. Jones was able to show his success after implementing these techniques in one year’s time: a quail covey established on the west end of his property. 

After lunch, attendees heard talks on recreational enterprise opportunities, legal liability issues and estate planning. We sold out the event this time and already have folks asking about the next workshop. We hope to have another one in the fall, with an announcement coming late spring or early summer.

The following day, on March 10, we held our ninth Uncommon Communities training. Uncommon Communities is our community and economic development program done in partnership with Dr. Vaughn Grisham, the Cooperative Extension’s Breakthrough Solutions program and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock’s School of Public Affairs. In this session, our five participating counties – Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren and Yell – were coached in quality of place and placemaking.

Representatives from Yell County presented to the group their plans for downtown revitalization in Dardanelle. These plans include installation of a hammock park, a dog park, historical re-enactments, bike and walking trails, a Native American heritage museum and more.

Finally, on March 23-24, we held our Rural Health Summit (pictured above), which convened health care leaders from across the state to identify gaps and opportunities related to health care in rural areas. This is the first wide-scale effort to address this pressing need. The Institute will soon report out to the group with a summary of their recommendations, and a group of volunteers from among the participants will work to begin implementing some of those recommendations and identifying other partners to join for another summit in late 2017 or early 2018. This effort has the potential to provide higher quality and more access to care for our state’s rural populations, all through the power of collaboration and cooperation.

There’s lots more to come in 2017 for the Institute, including our Art in its Natural State competition, which kicked off in February, and our annual performance of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. We’re relieved that the March Madness is behind us and are ready to take on the next challenges.

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Commitment to diversity, pre-K expansion among top priorities in Under 40 Forum report

PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN, Ark. (July 20, 2016) — In a report released today, leaders under the age of 40 from across the state identified key issues for retaining and recruiting young talent to Arkansas.

The report, composed by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, is the result of the Under 40 Forum, a two-day summit held April 1-2 by the Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service. The summit brought together the 2015 40 Under 40 honorees as designated by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. More than 30 of the honorees attended and participated in a facilitated discussion about opportunities and hurdles related to talent recruitment and retention. This was the first meeting of its kind with the Under 40 honorees.

Among the highlights of the report are recommendations for businesses and government to do more to embrace diversity; expansion of the state’s pre-K opportunities; and commitment to increasing broadband access across the state.

“This report is important because it represents the next generation of leaders in Arkansas,” said Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. “These leaders chose to make a life in Arkansas, and they were forthright in articulating the challenges and opportunities they’re facing. Through participation in the Forum, they came to realize their role in being a part of the solution. We hope state and community leaders will heed their recommendations.”

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, said that while many of the issues addressed in the report are not brand-new concepts, what makes it meaningful is the group from which it comes.

“These young leaders represent the future of our state," Rutherford said. "They are engaged; they are smart; and they know what it will take for Arkansas to realize all of its potential. This is a group whose voices need to be heard.”

Copies of the report are being sent to each member of the Legislature, as well as other government and business leaders across Arkansas, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson kicked off the Under 40 Forum in April with an address and question-and-answer session with the attendees. In his address, he praised the group for their willingness to engage in a search for solutions to the state’s most pressing challenges.

“You are really a key part of the success we’re going to have in the future,” Hutchinson said to close his address to the honorees.

The report can be downloaded by visiting www.rockefellerinstitute.org/Under40Report. Plans for the second annual Under 40 Forum have been set for March 2017.

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. By integrating the resources and expertise of the University of Arkansas System with the legacy and ideas of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, this educational institute and conference center creates an atmosphere where collaboration and change can thrive.

Program areas include Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Civic Engagement, Economic Development, and Health. To learn more, call 501-727-5435, visit the website at www.rockefellerinstitute.org, or stay connected through Twitter and Facebook.

 

About the Clinton School of Public Service

The first school in the nation to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service gives students the knowledge and experience to further their careers in the areas of nonprofit, governmental, volunteer or private sector service.

A two-year graduate program with a real-world curriculum, the Clinton School is located on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Ark. The school embodies former President Clinton’s vision of building leadership in civic engagement and enhancing people’s capacity to work across disciplinary, racial, ethnic and geographical boundaries. For more information, visit www.clintonschool.uasys.edu.

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Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Clinton School of Public Service team up to present Under 40 Forum

PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN, Ark. (March 29, 2016) — The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service will partner this week to present the inaugural Under 40 Forum, an overnight retreat designed to connect the honorees of the annual 40 Under 40 lists as published by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

All 78 honorees from the two publications’ 2015 lists (there were two individuals on both lists) have been invited to gather at the Institute atop Petit Jean Mountain Friday and Saturday for this one-of-a-kind event. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will kick off the event Friday with an address and question-and-answer session. The participants will then engage in a facilitated discussion centered around recruitment and retention of young talent in the state. Matt DeCample, president of Aarch Communications in Little Rock and previously communications director for former Gov. Mike Beebe, will serve as facilitator.

The conversation about talent recruitment and retention will continue Saturday morning, with plenty of networking opportunities built in.

“Our goal for this meeting is two-fold,” said Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. “First of all, we want to engage these young leaders in a meaningful discussion about the future of our state. Second, we firmly believe in the power of connection and collaboration, so we want to give them ample time and space to get to know one another.”

A report detailing the outcomes of the facilitated discussions will be published and provided to the governor’s office, the state Legislature and other state leaders.

“This is exactly the type of summit we think Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller would be proud of,” said Janet Harris, director of programs for the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. “He was known for using his beautiful space atop Petit Jean to convene the best and brightest minds in the state and beyond to advance solutions to Arkansas’ most pressing needs. We look forward to seeing what this distinguished group of people brings to the discussion.”

The Under 40 Forum is being held in full cooperation with Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. The event is by invitation only to the 78 honorees, though Gov. Hutchinson’s address will be open to the media. The resulting report will be available to view at www.rockefellerinstitute.org.

 

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. By integrating the resources and expertise of the University of Arkansas System with the legacy and ideas of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, this educational institute and conference center creates an atmosphere where collaboration and change can thrive.

Program areas include Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Civic Engagement, Economic Development, and Health. To learn more, call 501-727-5435, visit the website at www.rockefellerinstitute.org, or stay connected through Twitter and Facebook.

 

About the Clinton School of Public Service

The first school in the nation to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service gives students the knowledge and experience to further their careers in the areas of nonprofit, governmental, volunteer or private sector service.

A two-year graduate program with a real-world curriculum, the Clinton School is located on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Ark. The school embodies former President Clinton’s vision of building leadership in civic engagement and enhancing people’s capacity to work across disciplinary, racial, ethnic and geographical boundaries. For more information, visit www.clintonschool.uasys.edu.

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