Powerful Men 2013
This year’s Powerful Men, as in years past, includes men who are decision makers, who craft the edible and the incredible, whose interests are diverse and wide ranging and who deserve recognition for not only the impact they have on our state and country but also for their altruism, tenacity and talent.
Dean, Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master’s degree in urban design from Rice University. He began his career working for the famed E. Fay Jones and worked in several firms in Tennessee, Florida and Little Rock, Ark., including the firm he co-founded, Polk Shannon Stanley, now Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects.
He has won several awards including, the Master Teaching Award; Outstanding Teaching Award; and the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Category of Creativity. He was named one of the “25 Most Admired Educators” in the November/December 2010 issue of DesignIntelligence. As dean, Shannon developed “new programs to foster leadership and life skills for students and to enhance diversity within the school.” He is founder and executive editor for the publishing collaboration between the school and the UofA Press, and during his tenure raised more than $50,000,000. He serves on the boards of the Arkansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
Q & A
Hometown: Bunkie, La.; Fordyce, LIttle Rock, Star City and Conway, Arkansas
First Job: Mowing lawns
Occupation: Architect, professor of architecture.
First Big Break: Acceptance into the architecture program at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
One Word that Describes You: Analytical.
Volunteer Work: Various
Who is your hero? Louis Kahn, extraordinary architect and professor.
What you love about what you do? Analyzing issues, solving problems and helping students understand the design process.
What is the accomplishment are you most proud of? Helping to bring needed resources to the Fay Jones School of Architecture and its students and faculty.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I love to play computer sports-simulation games and war games with longtime friend Carter Hardage.
As a child, I spent hours … playing outside with neighbor friends, especially cowboys and Indians after Saturday afternoon movies.
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Spending time in the British Isles, home to most of my ancestors, and having a summer place in Wyoming or Montana.
Executive Director, Arkansas Art Center
Herman was curator and also chief curator of European art at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina for six years prior to taking his post at the Arkansas Arts Center. He serves on the development committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors. Herman earned a master’s degree in art history from the University of South Carolina and bachelor’s degrees in art history and science from James Madison University. He earned his Ph.D. in art history from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and is an Italian Renaissance and Baroque Scholar.
Herman has held two Samuel H. Kress Fellowships and taught art history at several universities in the United States and Italy. He has served as a contributor to a number of exhibitions, catalogues and exhibition catalogues, including the catalogue and exhibition “Art From the Court of Burgundy,” and organized “Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade,” a travelling exhibit to which he also contributed to the exhibition catalogue; it received international coverage and its significance was well noted.
Q & A
Hometown: York, Pennsylvania.
First Job: Working in a genetics lab in the pediatrics department at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; [a job that involved long hours] and minimal pay unless you had a Ph.D., so I decided to follow my passion for the arts. It worked out pretty well.
First Big Break: Being hired to work on the exhibition “Art from the Court of Burgundy” at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon. I worked with some of the leading museum professionals and scholars in their field — it opened a lot of doors.
One Word that Describes You: Lucky.
Hobbies: Gardening, travel, British comedy and reading art history textbooks.
Who is your hero? Anyone who has the strength to persevere through adversity.
What you love about what you do? I love seeing [audiences] become excited and engaged when they look at art. It is important that creativity be nurtured, and I love it when you can see positive creative experiences make a difference in a person’s life; their eyes light up and a smile grows across their face. Triggering that part of the brain has an affirmative effect on an individual.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I have a degree in microbiology, and I am an avid sports fan.
As a child, I spent hours … reading anything I could get my hands on.
Economic Developer, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Tennille, a Florida native, earned a degree from Kenyon College in Ohio and moved to Arkansas to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He later served as a communications assistant in the Office of the Governor and then at the Arknasas Game and Fish Commission. Tennille worked for a telecommunications consulting firm, The Thompson Group, in Denver. He later worked as senior director of public policy planning and advocacy for Qwest Comminications International. In 2004, he was named vice president for the startup The Distribition Point in Alabama. He later returned to Arkansas to join Gov. Mike Beebe’s office. During his career, Tennille has “provided business and strategic counsel to companies of all sizes, including small startups and Fortune 500 corporations.” He is married to Rebecca Tennille, a public-relations executive, and has three children.
Q & A
Hometown: Tampa, Florida.
First Job: Copy editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports department.
First Big Break: Moving to the Democrat-Gazette’s Capitol Bureau to cover the 1995 legislative session.
One Word that Describes You: Intense.
Volunteer Work: City Year Little Rock board member.
Who is your hero? Joe Strummer.
What you love about what you do? Helping Arkansas grow.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? My children are happy, smart and funny.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I attended more than 110 Grateful Dead shows.
As a child, I spent hours … reading.
Do you have a Personal Motto? “Memento Mori” [“Remember, you will die”] and Rule #5: “Harden ... Up.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Learning patience.
President and COO, Sissy's Log Cabin
Jones is an award-winning jewelry designer who attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He is a real estate developer and president of Wildwood Realty; a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America; and a board member of National Trade Organizations and the National JCK Trade Association.
The Arkansas Arts and Science Center; 50 For the Future; Lakeside United Methodist Church; Arkansas Repertory Theatre; OPUS; Easter Seals of Arkansas; Women and Children First Shelter; the Arkansas and Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestras; the Pine Bluff School and White Hall School Districts; Saint Bernard’s and NEA Baptist Hospitals; United Way, Pine Bluff; Baptist Health Foundation; Jefferson County Humane Society; and Neighbor to Neighbor are just a few of the organizations that have benefitted from his generosity and philanthropic efforts.
Jones was also instrumental in the fundraising for the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Q & A
Nickname: The General
Hometown: Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
First Job: Manager of sporting goods department at TG&Y, a Pine Bluff department store.
First Big Break: Being given the opportunity to work at Sissy’s Log Cabin.
One Word that Describes You: Determined.
Hobbies: Spending time with my family, horseback riding, water and snow skiing and hunting.
Volunteer Work: I coached my sons’ baseball teams for many years; spearheaded the development and fund-raising for the Torii Hunter Baseball complex; and I am a past board member and chairman of the Board for the Arts and Science Center, Pine Bluff; member and past chairman of the Razorback Chapter of Ducks Unlimited; a Baptist Health Foundation Trustee; MC of Watson Fish Fry; and chamber member, staff parish chair and lay leader at Lakeside United Methodist Church.
Who is your hero? Jesus Christ
What you love about what you do? The joy our products bring to our clients.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? How my family has stayed together through all of the growth and continues to hold God at the center of our business.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I love to work outdoors and operate heavy equipment.
As a child, I spent hours … playing baseball and football.
Do you have a Personal Motto? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" To build additional stores and to get my boys involved in our business.
Dr. Charles L. Welch
President, Arkansas State University System
Welch earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University and a doctorate degree in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).
Welch previously worked at UALR and taught at three colleges in Arkansas. He served as president of Henderson State University; chancellor of University of Arkansas Community College at Hope; vice chancellor of academic affairs at Arkansas State University, Beebe; and dean of university studies at Pulaski Technical College. Notably, Welch “is believed to be the youngest college president in the United States.”
Welch once served as a White House intern and served on the staffs of Sen. David Pryor and Rep. Blanche Lincoln. He served on the executive committee of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities; is a board member of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches; and was named to Arkansas Business’ “40 Under 40.” He also serves on a number of local and regional boards and committees. He and wife Mandy have three daughters.
Q & A
Hometown: Jonesboro, Arkansas.
First Job: Staff assistant to U.S. Rep. Blanche Lincoln.
First Big Break: When Dr. B. Alan Sugg named me the chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope at the age of 31.
One Word that Describes You: Positive.
Hobbies: My three daughters.
Volunteer Work: Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches, Leadership Greater Little Rock and Rotary Club 99.
Who is your heroes? My Mom and Dad; although they did not have a college education, they never let me think it was an optional exercise for me.
What you love about what you do? My job allows me the ability to create opportunities for young people in our state to dream the unimaginable for themselves and their families.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Becoming the first college graduate in my family.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? As a child I dreamed of becoming a sports broadcaster.
As a child, I spent hours … turning down the volume on the television set and pretending I was the play-by-play announcer for sporting events.
Do you have a Personal Motto? “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" To purchase a condominium in Manhattan so I can enjoy my favorite city on a regular basis.
McGehee has “restauranteuring” in his blood as his grandmother served at Red Apple Inn and his father at Blue Mesa Grill and Juanita’s restaurants. McGehee studied at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy. He served as a line chef in Berkley, Calif., at the famed Chez Panisse with Alice Waters.
In 1998, McGehee returned to Little Rock and opened the popular Boulevard Bread Company, which was recognized as one of the city’s top restaurants in Southern Living. He later opened two additional locations. In 2007, he opened ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Company and has since opened a second location in Conway, Arkansas. In 2010 he launched Tre’Za, a franchising company. With his creative partners, McGehee has developed and opened Big Orange Burgers, Salads and Shakes and Local Lime, a gourmet tacos and margaritas restaurant. The partners “aspire to develop and open gourmet-inspired” eateries and “to raise the bar and challenge the status quo in Arkansas.” They plan to unveil a new product this fall.
Q & A
Nickname: Scotty or Scoobie
Hometown: Born in Fayetteville and reared in Little Rock, Arkansas.
First Job: Pumping fuel and cutting grass at Brownie’s Oil company in the Prothro Junction neighborhood in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
First Big Break: Landing a job at the famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., with Chef Alice Waters.
One Word that Describes You: Positive.
Volunteer Work: I have volunteered recently at the Arkansas Rice Depot and the Little Rock Animal Village.
Who is your heroes? My mom and dad, for completely different reasons.
What you love about what you do? With my next location, I will have 320 employees. There’s nothing I love more than interacting with my family of employees and trying to touch their lives in some positive way. I love seeing young people conquer their fears, grow, learn and eventually leave me and do something wonderful with their lives!
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Being a best friend to my wife and three kids. They are everything to me, and they know it. I’m very proud of that.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m a complete sci-fi and fantasy nerd and love, love, love reading about history.
As a child, I spent hours … in the kitchen with my great grandmother, grandfather, mom and dad.
Do you have a Personal Motto? “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" I aspire to travel to every corner of the planet with my wife and kids.
State Film Commissioner, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Ark., native Christopher Crane has worked as a professional actor and technician in theater, film, television and music. He served on staff for Sen. Dale Bumpers; as a primary scheduler for the 1998 Federal Senate campaign; a community development leader for March of Dimes; and taught film and theater at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Since August 2007, Crane has served Arkansas as state film commissioner. He oversees the promotion, recruitment and development of the state’s film industry by marketing Arkansas to national and international film clientele.
His primary responsibilities as film commissioner include: managing the statewide Digital Product and Motion Picture Incentive Program; establishing and maintaining personal contacts with film industry representatives; scouting and marketing locations; handling prospect requests for location and production assistance; acting as primary liaison between the film industry and federal, state and local agencies; representing the Arkansas Economic Development Commission on production sets; and maintaining current information on Arkansas’s available production service resources through Arkansas Production Alliance, also known as arfilm.
Q & A
Nickname: CP, My Middle name is Paul, so that’s what my family called me for years.
Hometown: Hot Springs, Arkansas
First Job: Raking leaves; to this day, I detest yard work
First Big Break: Still waiting on the call.
One Word that Describes You: Persistent.
Hobbies: Playing the guitar.
Volunteer Work: For the past six years, my favorite volunteer activity has been helping run a water stop for the LR marathon. It’s a very enthusiastic, appreciative crowd.
Who is your hero? My dad: he worked three jobs to put himself through law school and build a life for us … there was no day I didn’t hear the words “I love you.” He truly is a great man.
What you love about what you do? I get to help others stay in a place they love while doing something they love. Our film community is second to none, and I get to work for them every single day. I am very blessed.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? It has been a group effort, mind you, but raising my daughter, Madison. She is the girl every father hopes his baby girl grows up to be: smart, kind, compassionate and dedicated. She makes me proud every single day.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m a huge fan of rap music. My wife Lindsay and I have morning parties every day before work.
As a child, I spent hours … creating characters and one-man shows. I’m sure I put my family through many hours of anguish and boredom.
Do you have a Personal Motto? “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Andy Allison, P
Andy Allison, Ph.D., joined the Arkansas Department of Human Services as the state Medicaid director in December 2011. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Division of Health Care Finance within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and as the executive director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority with responsibility for Kansas’ Medicaid program, CHIP, the Kansas state employee health plan and the state’s healthcare and health insurance databases. He is a founding board member of the National Association of Medicaid Directors and currently serves as its president.
He spent six years at the Kansas Health Institute as a researcher, focusing on healthcare and health insurance policy in Kansas. He worked as a Medicaid budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C., from 1992 to 1995, providing staff analysis of health reform legislation and reviewing statewide Medicaid waiver applications.
Q & A
Nickname: “Swimhead”— chlorine turned my hair green during the high school swim season, and I couldn’t get a comb through it most of the winter.
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
First Job: Canoe Rental Facility in Ann Arbor.
First Big Break: Getting into West Point, which led to my first big setback — leaving West Point.
Hobbies: Singing and hunting.
Volunteer Work: I have been pretty active in my church and have always helped with my kids’ ball teams, but recently my job has taken most of my time.
Who is your hero? Joseph, the Jewish leader in the Old Testament. He was a talented, principled, courageous and Godly man, the ideal public servant.
What you love about what you do? The opportunity to help solve important and interesting problems.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Successfully courting my wife, Susan. Professionally, I’m proud of the bi-partisan team effort here in Arkansas to find a novel way to extend private insurance to the state’s poorest citizens.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I would rather be directing a children’s choir in church.
As a child, I spent hours … in the sandbox, playing with Legos and waiting for my parents after church was over.
Do you have a personal motto? No. I’m too worried I might oversimplify Christ’s message.
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Focusing my ambition on the people around me.
Chief Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court
Chief Justice Jim Hannah took office Jan. 1, 2005. He successfully ran statewide contested elections for chief justice in 2004 and in associate justice position no. 5 in 2000. He was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and Pres. Obama to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction and serves as chairman of the State Judicial Institute; first vice president of the Conference of Chief Justices; and board member for the National Center for State Courts. He also serves on the Arkansas Supreme Court Committees for Access to Justice, Client Security Fund, Technology, Child Support and District Court Resources Board and chairs the Drug Court Advisory Committee.
His long resume of law positions in Arkansas includes, but is not limited to: elected chancery/probate judge, 17th Judicial District; White County juvenile judge; Searcy city attorney; deputy prosecuting attorney for Woodruff County; city judge for Kensett and Rosebud; city attorney for Augusta, Bradford, Des Arc, Garner, Kensett and Rosebud; and private attorney at Lightle, Tedder, Hannah & Beebe Law Firm in Searcy, Arkansas.
He calls Searcy home, where he lives with his wife, Pat. They have five children, 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Q & A
Hometown: I claim Searcy and Harrison, Ark., and Ozark, Missouri.
First Job: Sweeping out the dry cleaning business my parents owned.
First Big Break: Being fortunate enough to have the parents that I had.
One Word that Describes You: Motivated.
Hobbies: Competitive sports, travel and reading.
Who is your heros? My mom and dad.
What you love about what you do? I get the opportunity to make a difference and to give back to the community.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? My children — they’ve become good people, good citizens — and marrying my wife.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m introverted.
As a child, I spent hours … reading and playing ball.
Do you have a personal motto? “Accomplish your goals.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" When I leave this court, I hope to leave it better than it was.
President and CEO, Delta Dental of Arkansas
Ed Choate joined Delta Dental of Arkansas as president and CEO in July 2000. He recently completed a two-year term as chairman of the national Delta Dental Board of Directors. Prior to joining Delta Dental, he served 20 years in the managed healthcare industry working for NovaSys Health Network, HealthScope Benefits and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Choate obtained a bachelor of business administration and a bachelor of science in education degrees from Southern Arkansas University (SAU). Since then, he has completed on-site executive education courses at Stanford University and Harvard University and earned the following professional designations: chartered life underwriter; chartered financial consultant; registered health underwriter; and certified health consultant.
Choate is president of Fifty for the Future and is part of the Executive Committee of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the boards of Baptist Health, Renaissance Health Corporation and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
Q & A
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
First Job: Paper route for Arkansas Gazette.
First Big Break: Getting a college football scholarship to SAU.
One Word that Describes You: Blessed.
Hobbies: Pheasant hunting.
Volunteer Work: I serve on the Baptist Health and Fifty for the Future boards of directors.
Who is your hero? My mother – as a single mom, she raised two always-hungry, growing boys on almost no money. She is amazing!
What you love about what you do? Delta Dental provides world-class service to our customers while helping many Arkansans through our foundation.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Marrying my wife, Marilyn; the best things in my life began with her.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I played college football at age 16.
As a child, I spent hours … playing any sport I could play in the backyard.
Do you have a personal motto? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13.
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Taking my grandkids to Disney World.
Horace A. Hardwick
After a 39-year career with General Electric Corp., Horace A. Hardwick retired as director of international sales and marketing for G.E. lighting business in Mexico and served as vice president of student care services for Students in Free Enterprise and began his own consulting business. He is best known for his career as a volunteer and fundraiser in northwest Arkansas.
Hardwick’s main causes are healthcare and education. He currently serves on the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board; the board of directors of Circle of Life Hospice; Northwest Arkansas Senior Services Board; and the Assisted Living Green House Project Board. He has helped raise gifts ranging from $10,000 to $3 million for Circle of Life Hospice, including the long-term lease of 6.1 acres of land used for a new inpatient facility in Bentonville, Arkansas.
In the past, he served in the Arkansas State Legislature House of Representatives; as vice chairman of the Northwest Arkansas Community College Board of Trustees; as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Arkansas Cancer Challenge; and has been associated with several other educational and healthcare organizations.
Q & A
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas.
First Job: Sorting mail at night for the U.S. Postal Service.
First Big Break: Getting hired by General Electric right out of college.
One Word that Describes You: Committed.
Hobbies: Volunteering and traveling with friends.
Who is your heroes? The volunteers and staff at Northwest Arkansas Circle of Life Hospice.
What you love about what you do? Being able to contribute in some way to helping people in need.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Being a husband for almost 57 years to my wife Jeretta, a wonderful lady and my best friend, and being a father to three awesome children and a grandfather to eight fabulous grandchildren.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m a fan of country western music.
As a child, I spent hours … collecting stamps and old coins.
Do you have a personal motto? “Reputation is built on what you do, not what you say.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Walk on the Great Wall of China.
After graduating from Arkansas Tech University, McCaslin taught math and chemistry in public school for four years prior to joining Kraft Foods in 1972. Kraft Foods took the McCaslin family to several states and cities prior to their move to Bentonville, Ark., in 1996. He retired in 2002 and began a career in politics.
He served two terms as alderman prior to being elected mayor of Bentonville in 2006 and is now serving a second four-year term as mayor. Under his direction, Bentonville’s downtown underwent a renaissance that included revamping the roads, streetlights, traffic signs and general appearance of Bentonville’s square. This combined with the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art put Bentonville on the tourism map. Bentonville earned a spot on Travel + Leisure’s esteemed “Hottest Travel Destinations of 2012.”
McCaslin is active on many community committees and endeavors. Additionally, he is a Gideon; Rotarian; member of the adult chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; member of the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce; and former member of the Board of Directors for Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas.
Q & A
Childhood Nickname: Bobby.
Hometown: Mount Ida, Arkansas
First Job: Mowing yards.
First Big Break: Promotion from sales representative to account manager at Kraft Foods in 1978.
One Word that Describes You: Dependable.
Hobbies: Golf and cars.
Volunteer Work: Cross Church, Rotary.
Who is your hero? The Apostle Paul.
What you love about what you do? Making a difference in how our city goes about handling the people’s business by promoting professionalism, character and integrity in all that we do.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Helping my wife of 45 years raise two wonderful daughters.
What's one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I worked one summer during college as a combine operator harvesting wheat.
As a child, I spent hours … riding my bicycle, hunting and fishing.
Do you have a personal motto? “Always remain committed to doing what is right while respecting those who have opposing views.”
What is left on your "Bucket List?" Driving a racecar and attending the Masters.