Awards

The NWA LeaderCon committee recognizes leaders in 3 categories every year. Winners for 2017 NWA LeaderCon will be announced soon. See below for descriptions of each award category.

Don Soderquist Servant Leadership Award: someone who has a proven track record of impacting their organization and the NWA community through their inspirational leadership.

Trailblazer Leadership Award: someone who is a bold and courageous game changer, trailblazer and a difference maker in the NWA business arena.

Tomorrow’s Leader Award: an up-and-coming rising leaders, who show emerging “potential” for great impact on NWA in the near future.


Previous Award Recipients - title block

2016 Award Recipients

Don Soderquist Servant Leadership Award: someone who has a proven track record of impacting their organization and the NWA community through their inspirational leadership.

Recipient: Donnie Smith

President and Chief Executive Officer, Tyson Foods Inc.

Donnie’s enthusiasm for Tyson Foods is contagious among the company’s 113,000 Team Members. Appointed to his role as president and CEO in 2009, his passion is the hallmark of his tenure at the company, which he joined in 1980. He guides Tyson Foods to be a company with a conscience, focused on feeding the world great, affordable food, while also making a positive difference in people’s lives.

Through his career, Donnie has worked to learn every angle of the Tyson Foods business. He joined Tyson, working in poultry operations for seven years in Tennessee before moving to the company’s headquarters in Springdale, Ark., where he started as a commodity buyer. He was named director of commodity purchasing in 1991 and during the next several years added complementary responsibilities to his management portfolio: logistics, purchasing and information systems in 2006; and engineering, food safety and quality assurance, and environmental health and safety in 2007. He moved into the company’s consumer products division in 2008 and was named senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods in early 2009, the same year he was appointed as president and CEO.

A native of Tennessee, Donnie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

Trailblazer Leadership Award: someone who is a bold and courageous game changer, trailblazer and a difference maker in the NWA business arena.

Recipient: Ed Clifford

CEO, The Jones Center 

Ed Clifford was raised and educated in the Philadelphia, PA area, and after college, held a number of manufacturing and retail chain positions in Philadelphia and State College, PA, Syracuse and Albany, NY, and Saginaw, MI. In 1984 he joined Walmart stores as the hardware buyer, and held a number of merchandising management positions before retiring in 2001.

After his retirement from Walmart, Ed was named the President/CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, a position he held for 11 years, and under his leadership, the Chamber tripled its membership, and the downtown Bentonville project flourished to become one of the most vibrant downtowns in Midwest United States.

While at the Chamber of Commerce, Ed was added to the Jones Trust Board in Springdale, AR, and when he retired from the Chamber in May of 2012, he was named the President/CEO of the Jones Trust and the Jones Center for Families, a 220,000 sq. ft. community center in Springdale facing financial and structural challenges. Working with an expanded and engaged Board of Directors, and a new staff of dedicated Advancement, Operations, Recreation and Education professionals, a strategic plan was developed leading to an Endowment Fund cash infusion of $30 million, revised community recreation and meeting room offerings, and partnership agreements with Northwest Arkansas Community College, the Springdale School District, Camp War Eagle, Ozark Education, and the U of A hockey and swimming clubs and others. In addition, new fundraising events were created, all of which resulted in a facility that is now financially sustainable.

The Jones Trust also operates 2 non-profit centers in Springdale and Rogers, AR, which host more than 70 active non-profits at significantly reduced lease rates, allowing them to spend more of their dollars on community programing.

Ed is involved with the Downtown Springdale Alliance, formed to lead a renewal of that area, and serves on numerous Boards, including Chairing the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City. He has also received several community involvement awards from Walmart, the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber, the City of Bentonville and the Northwest Arkansas Community College.

Tomorrow’s Leader Award: an up-and-coming rising leaders, who show emerging “potential” for great impact on NWA in the near future.

Tom Walton

Recipient: Tom Walton

Walton Family Foundation

Thomas L. Walton is the managing principal of RopeSwing, a Bentonville-based hospitality company dedicated to creating unique culinary, entertainment and cultural events.

Born and raised in Bentonville, Arkansas, Tom has a special interest in giving back to his home region through both personally directed contributions and the Walton Family Foundation’s Home Region Program. Tom is instrumental in revitalizing Northwest Arkansas downtown areas with a desire to create collaborative spaces for the region’s growing population.

In Bentonville, Tom has been involved in notable projects such as the 21c Museum Hotel, responding to the demand for downtown hospitality driven by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and business travel; improving natural spaces like Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas; and the recently announced collaboration with NorthWest Arkansas Community College to provide world-class culinary arts training in the area.

A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Tom discovered a love for mountain biking while in college in Flagstaff. He actively promotes the development of quality, sustainable trail systems in Northwest Arkansas. Tom has led support efforts for organizations that expand cycling assets and promote biking in the community by making the sport accessible to diverse audiences. Cycling entities supported by Tom include Friends of Arkansas Single Track (FAST), Bentonville/Bella Vista Trailblazers Association, Bike Bentonville, Pedal It Forward and Girls Bike Bentonville. Most recently, he was part of the effort to initiate a National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) league in Arkansas.

Tom is an art enthusiast who enjoys performance and visual arts. He frequently supports artists and music performers.

Tom is the son of Jim and Lynne Walton and the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton and his wife Helen.

Steuart Walton1
Steuart Walton

Recipient: Steuart Walton

Walton Family Foundation

Steuart L. Walton is the chief executive officer of Game Composites, Ltd., a company he founded in 2013 that designs and builds small composite aircraft. He previously worked for the London office of Allen & Overy, LLP handling matters related to debt equity offerings by non-U.S. entities. Steuart also worked for Walmart’s international division focusing on mergers and acquisitions.

Steuart holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Before law school, he worked in the office of U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald. While in law school, Steuart worked on commercial law issues at a law firm in Santiago, Chile.

Steuart serves on the board of directors of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Leadership for Educational Equity.

Steuart was born and raised in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has a special interest in giving back to his hometown and state through both personally directed contributions and the Walton Family Foundation’s Home Region Program. He has played a vital role in a wide range of foundation-funded projects, from supporting the development of recreational multi-use trails in Northwest Arkansas to donating trees to individual residents to help maintain the natural beauty of Bentonville.

Steuart is the son of Jim and Lynne Walton and the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton and his wife Helen.

2015 Award Recipients

Don Soderquist Servant Leadership Award: someone who has a proven track record of impacting their organization and the NWA community through their inspirational leadership.

Recipient: Mike Duke

Former President & CEO Walmart Stores, Inc. & Chairman, Executive Committee of the Board of Directors

Mike Duke served as the fourth Chief Executive Officer of Walmart from 2009-2013. Duke joined Walmart in 1995, and most recently served as the executive in charge of the company’s international operations before taking over as the CEO. He graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1971. He formerly held positions with a number of retailers including Federated Department Stores, May Department Stores, and Venture Stores. Duke also serves on the board of directors for the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the board of directors of the Consumer Goods Forum. Duke ranked No. 10 on Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful People in 2013 and that same year, Walmart ranked No. 15 on Forbes list of Most Patriotic Brands – the only retailer on the list.

Trailblazer Leadership Award: someone who is a bold and courageous game changer, trailblazer and a difference maker in the NWA business arena.

Recipient: Cameron Smith

President, Cameron Smith & Associates, Inc. (CSA)

Cameron Smith & Associates, Inc. is an institution within the Walmart supplier community which is recognized as one of the most successful executive search firms in the United States. Since its founding in 1994, the CSA team has been credited with luring hundreds of Walmart supplier offices into Northwest Arkansas, creating thousands of jobs. In 2010 CSA launched a new division, CSA Outplacement & Career Coaching, to assist companies during layoffs and downsizing, followed by the opening of a temporary staffing division. CSA currently employs 20 people in Northwest Arkansas. Cameron was recently recognized by Arkansas Business as the 2014 Business Executive of the Year. Cameron is also involved in numerous community efforts to enhance technology, international trade opportunities and higher educational resources available to world-class companies working in conjunction with Walmart. Cameron is married to the love of his life, Monica Smith, who is also the CFO of the company. Together they have 4 children and 8 grandchildren.

Tomorrow’s Leader Award: an up-and-coming rising leader, who shows emerging “potential” for great impact on NWA in the near future.

Recipient: Nick Nabholz

Business Development Officer, Nabholz Construction

Nick began his professional career at Nabholz Construction Services in 2001 while he was still in high school, working in Nabholz’ South-Central Operations, headquartered in Conway, AR. He continued his work throughout his enrollment at the University of Arkansas, where he graduated with a BS in Business Administration in 2007. Upon graduation he began his full-time career as a Project Engineer in the Midwest Operations of Nabholz Construction, headquartered in Rogers, AR. He played a key role in multiple Northwest Arkansas projects and was promoted to his current position in 2010. Nick stays involved throughout Northwest Arkansas by serving on numerous boards and volunteering for countless philanthropic endeavors. He is the proud husband to his wife, Shea, and father to their two young boys, Noah and Nate.


2014 Award Recipients

Trailblazer Leadership Award: someone who is a bold and courageous game changer, trailblazer and a difference maker in the NWA business arena.

Recipient: Mary Ann Greenwood

Chairman and Investment Advisor, Greenwood Gearhart Inc.; President, Greenwood Group LTD.

Mary Ann Greenwood achieved her Ph. D.  in Economics and Finance from the University of Arkansas 35 years ago and has been a strong focal point in the development of our region. She has served on countless boards and professional organizations on the local, regional, state and national levels. She has received high accolades for her work including honors and awards from her fundraising ability to her skills in economic development. Her positive, hard-working attitude has truly made her a difference maker in the state of Arkansas.

Tomorrow’s Leader Award: an up-and-coming rising leader, who shows emerging “potential” for great impact on NWA in the near future.

Recipient: Bo Bittle

 President, Signature Bank, Fayetteville

Bo is a Finance graduate of Ole Miss and has been with Signature Bank since its opening in 2004. As a commercial lender and loan manager, he helped redefine customer service in the NWA region. Bo has served on numerous boards and committees and served as a director for several area non-profits. He also put his leadership skills to use as he helped guide the Fayetteville Chamber’s Leadership Fayetteville committee. With several great accomplishments already achieved, Bo has poised himself to be Northwest Arkansas’ next outstanding leader.

Don Soderquist Servant Leadership Awardsomeone who has a proven track record of impacting their organization and the NWA community through their inspirational leadership.

Recipient: Alice Walton

 Founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Alice needs no introduction. She is the youngest of four children of the late Helen Walton and the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Nearly ten years ago, Alice involved her family in her dream to have a significant art museum in her hometown so the NWA region would have ready access to great works of art. This led to the creation of Crystal Bridges, which not only celebrates American art and history, but also the stunning Ozark landscape that she loved as a child. The museum opened on 11-11-11 and since that time, has welcomed more than one million visitors.


2013 Award Recipients


Trailblazer Leadership Award:
someone who is a bold and courageous game changer, trailblazer and a difference maker in the NWA business arena

Recipient: Sandy Edwards – Deputy Director, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

“Sandy’s inspirational leadership of the museum relations department includes overseeing guest services and membership strategies, a pivotal role that guided the museum through its highly successful first year. Sandy has been, and continues to be, a guiding force in establishing this institution, creating and growing connections to bring increased tourism to the area, as well as offering our regiona’s residents unparalleled arts, cultural and educational experiences.”
-Laura Jacobs, Director of Communications, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Tomorrow’s Leadership Award: an up-and-coming rising leader, who shows emerging “potential” for great impact on NWA in the near future.

Recipient: Daniel Barnes – President, McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc. – Fayetteville Branch

 “Daniel is concerned about not only his employees, but also their families and the commmunities where they live. He is the kind of leader who never expects anyone to do something he would not do himself. Daniel’s leadership skills are shown best by his ability to serve others. He never expects recognition for what he does, but always exhibits appreciation and enthusiasm for a job well done by those who surround him.”
– Jennifer Jones, Office Administrator, McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc.

Servant Leadership Award: someone who has a proven track record of impacting their organization and the NWA community through their inspirational leadership.

Recipient: Don Soderquist – Senior Vice Chairman and Retired COO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Founding Executive, The Soderquist Center

“Northwest Arkansas is blessed with abundance of exceptional leaders. Don Soderquist stands among the best. He has demonstrated a commitment, not only to providing leadership but also providing resources and talent to recruit, train and develop leaders through the Soderquist Center. Don has built a legacy of leadership that exemplifies the drive and inspiration underlying a servant leader and one of Tomorrow’s leaders.”
– Steve Clark, President and CEO, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce