Powerful Men 2011
Photography Edited By Chach Bursey
Meet This Year's Baker's Dozen ... All Accomplished And Distinguished Gentlemen.
Marlon Blackwell, FAIA
Occupation: Architect and Principal, Marlon Blackwell Architect; distinguished professor and department head, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Fay Jones School of Architecture Department of Architecture
Marlon Blackwell earned degrees from Auburn University and Syracuse University in Florence. In 1990, he established his company and began almost immediately to receive acclaim for his work. He has received national and international recognition for his commercial and residential design from organizations, including American Institute of Architects. His work has been published in a number of books, architectural journals and publications including Architectural Record; Architect; Arquine; Dwell; Metropolitan Home; and The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture to name a few. Blackwell has been a visiting professor at several colleges and co-founded the University of Arkansas Mexico Summer Urban Studio and has coordinated and taught in the program at the Casa Luis Barragan in Mexico City since 1996.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Tenacious.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My family; my relationship with my wife; and the opportunities that my career has afforded us to travel and see the world.
What do you love about what you do? The opportunity to pull together all the elements that make architecture happen — cultural concerns, design issues, the site and the relationship with place, interfacing with the client. My favorite moment is when those first marks are put to paper, when your ideas are generated and secondly, the development and realization of those ideas — getting things built.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? To design larger public buildings and spaces. I believe in the power of architecture to enrich lives and create a dignified presence in society.
Peter B. Lane
Occupation: Arts Manager, Walton Arts Center
Before taking his role as president and ceo of Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Ark., Peter Lane served as ceo for the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a $100 million arts center located on the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Here, he gained much experience developing arts programming and launched the new, award-winning Woodstock museum. He also served as the executive director of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall for 10 years, where he was responsible for the development of all concert presentations at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Lane is a classically-trained bass player, who attended San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He and his wife Bobbie have two sons, Jack and Chris.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Passionate.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? Raising my boys.
What was your first job? An apprentice at an instrument maker and violin repair shop.
First big break: Working for Skitch Henderson with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.
What do you love about what you do? Introducing great artists to audiences.
Who is your mentor? My uncle Peter Benoliel has been a key supporter and mentor of my career in the arts.
What is your dream profession? Besides what I am doing — being a philanthropist.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? Opening two new performance halls to complete the Walton Arts Center expansion.
John W. Allison
Occupation: Chairman of the board, Home BancShares, Inc. (parent company of Centennial Bank)
John W. Allison earned his bachelor of science degree from Arkansas State University (Asu) in Jonesboro, and served on the asu board of trustees from 1979 to 1984. Allison is founder and current board chairman for Home Bancshares, Inc. and Centennial Bank. He served more than 20 years as chairman of the board of First National Bank of Conway, now Regions Bank, and was chairman of the executive committee of the former Little Rock-based holding company First Commercial Corporation. He is the owner of Capital Buyers, Inc., a mobile home brokerage/financing company and is a former owner of mobile home manufacturing companies Castle Homes and Spirit Homes. Allison serves his community as a commissioner for the Arkansas State Police, a past central Arkansas representative of the Murphy Commission and on the board of directors of the Manufactured Home Commission.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Spontaneous.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My family donated land to the city and helped develop and construct Centennial Park, the soccer complex in Conway, and creating employment for more than 1,000 people.
What was your first job? Digging ditches for my father in Allison Mobile Home Park.
Who is your mentor? Kemmon Wilson — his philosophy has guided me since I was in college: "Don't give up — if you believe in what you're doing, be persistent."
When you knew you'd made it: When I took my first company public and saw the stock symbol show up on a ticker.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? Retirement, but I’m not sure I will like it when I get there.
Joel E. Anderson
Occupation: Chancellor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR)
Joel Anderson is a graduate of Harding University. He also earned a masters of the arts degree from American University; a Ph.D., from the University of Michigan; and completed the Institute of Educational Management at Harvard University. He has dedicated more than 30 years to university and community service. He served as the founding dean of the graduate school and launched UALR’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, “It’s Time for UALR,” which has exceeded its initial goal of $75 million and is working toward a new goal of $100 million. Anderson serves on the executive committee of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce; the board of directors of the Arkansas Research Alliance; the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science; the Downtown Little Rock Partnership; and Fifty for the Future. He and wife Ann have three sons, two granddaughters and a grandson.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Sleep-deprived.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? Establishing the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity.
What was your first job? Picking cotton.
First big break: When, as a senior in high school, I was named National 4-H Club Achievement Winner and attended the National 4-H Congress in Chicago.
What do you love about what you do? Working with smart, dedicated people every day for a better world.
What philosophy guides you daily? Look ahead, but live life one day at a time.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? Raise UALR faculty salaries to southern regional, then national levels.
Steve L. LaFrance, Sr.
Occupation: Pharmacist & Chairman of the board of Stephen L. LaFrance Pharmacies
Steve L. LaFrance Sr. is chairman of the board of Stephen L. LaFrance Pharmacies. In 1984, he opened the first USA Drug, the largest family-owned drug store chain and the fourth largest in the United States. There are approximately 160 locations in six states. The native New Orleanian graduated from Louisiana Monroe University School of Pharmacy in 1964 (then Northeast Louisiana State College). He opened his first drug store in Pine Bluff, Ark., in 1968, and in the 1970s established SAJ Distributors, a full-service wholesale distribution company that services food and drug accounts in 11 states. LaFrance and Linda, his wife of 42 years, have three children and six grandchildren.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Committed.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
What was your first job? Sacking groceries at a small grocery store when I was 14 years old.
First big break: When I opened my first pharmacy in 1968.
What do you love about what you do? The people.
What is your dream profession? To own a restaurant and be the cook.
What philosophy guides you daily? Do the next right thing!
What goal do you have that you have yet to achieve? That all my children and grandchildren live in the same town as my wife Linda and me.
Occupation: Advertising Executive, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods (CJRW)
Wayne Woods began his career in 1971, when he joined his brother Shelby’s agency, The Woods Brothers Agency. Here, Woods honed his skills in advertising and tourism promotion for the state. He was instrumental in organizing the first Governor’s Conference on Tourism in 1974, as well as in developing the Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation in 1978. Woods has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Hospitality Association’s Silver Cup in 1990; was named “Tourism Person of the Year” and given the Henry Award at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism in 1991; induction to the Arkansas Hospitality Association Hall of Fame in 1999. As CEO/president and chairman of the board at CJRW, Woods oversees the daily operations of the agency, manages more than 90 employees in two offices as well as the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism account.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Loyal.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My brother and I were instrumental in establishing tourism in the state and its being recognized as an industry in Arkansas.
What was your first job? Working construction on the Arkansas River.
Who are your mentors? Shelby Woods and Wayne Cranford.
What is No. 1 on your bucket list? Cruising around the world on my own yacht.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? We are celebrating our 50th anniversary on Oct. 15, and I want CJRW to continue to be a successful agency for another 50 years.
Shelby V. Woods
Occupation: Advertising Agency Executive, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods (CJRW)
Shelby Woods founded The Woods Brothers Agency in 1967, and after he and his brother Wayne Woods joined forces, the agency quickly gained a reputation for expertise in promoting travel and tourism in the state. Woods served as president of that company until it merged with Cranford Johnson Robinson Associates in 1990, the same year he and his brother were named “Advertising Men of the Year” by the Arkansas Advertising Federation. CJRW is now the largest advertising, public relations and marketing agency in the region. Woods is a former chairman of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce; has served on numerous tourism-related task forces and committees; is a charter member of the board of the Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation; and serves on the executive committee as treasurer. He was raised in Dumas, Ark., and earned a degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Thankful.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? In business, it would have to be the small role I have played in the growth of the Arkansas travel and tourism industry into one that employs almost 100,000 people and attracts more than 22 million visitors annually, who spent almost $5.5 billion last year.
What do you love about what you do? The fact that it matters.
Who is your mentor? I have several people who I would include as key mentors, but Jim Gaston would have to be at the top of the list.
What philosophy guides you daily? My philosophy would have to be centered around the belief that when much is given, much is expected.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? To make sure I finish my life well and to show my gratitude to those who have helped me along the way.
Peter D. Banko
Occupation: Healthcare leader
Peter Banko serves as president and CEO of St. Vincent Health System; he has held this office since 2007. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Cornell University. Banko is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and completed a Fellowship with the American Hospital Association’s Creating Healthier Communities Program. Prior to joining St. Vincent, Banko worked in operations and strategy roles at Christus Spohn Health System in Texas; PhyAmerica Physician Group in North Carolina; and Saint Clare’s Health Services in New Jersey. He began his career in the health industry nearly three decades ago as a hospital volunteer.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Passionate.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? Our decision, investment and groundbreaking for St. Vincent West. It is our largest and most comprehensive new campus development in 50 years. I like to think the Sisters, who made the move to University and Markham in 1954, are proud of this next big step.
What do you love about what you do? I love the people I work with. We have the best board, medical staff, and executive team I’ve ever been associated with.
When you knew you'd made it: Now that I’m “here,” after 27 years of trying, truly “making it” for me will be leaving behind an enduring legacy.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? St. Vincent has the unique opportunity for national recognition for the care we provide to patients — in cardiovascular, neurosurgery, orthopaedics and urology in particular. I want Arkansas to be recognized for our true superstars in medicine.
Ross M. Whipple
Occupation: Banker/Timberland Owner-Operator
Ross Whipple has had a very successful career in banking, he is also well known and recognized for the work he does as chairman of The Ross Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Esther Ross and daughter Jane Ross began The Ross Foundation in 1967, with an endowment from J.G. Clark. The Ross Foundation's Board of Trustees manages timberlands held for conservation purposes and administers a philanthropic grants program that benefits the people of Clark County through revenue produced by these timberlands. In addition to his work with the Ross Foundation, Whipple also serves the Arkansas Bankers Association; Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation; Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute; Arkansas Forestry Association; Henderson State University Foundation and more.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Persistent.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My children.
Who is your mentor or what philosophy guides you daily? Jane Ross was my mentor. The philosophy that guides me daily is maintaining a balance of passion for the job and compassion for people.
What do you love about what you do? The people I work with.
First big break or when you knew you'd made it: When Jane Ross included me in the timber business as a young man.
What is No. 1 on your bucket list? To duck hunt the Central Fly Way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in one season.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? Continuing to pass on my philosophy of life to my children and coworkers.
Frank Lyon, Jr.
Occupation: Executive / Investments
Frank Lyon Jr. graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. Sharing his parents’ commitment to philanthropy, Lyon has concentrated his efforts in the church, education and healthcare. He is the former president of the Frank Lyon Company; former chairman of the board and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas; former chairman of the board for TCBankshares; former director and chairman of the executive committee for Twin City Bank; and former director of U.S. Bank. He currently serves as chairman of the Arkansas Irrigation Company and Wingmead, Inc. Lyon has also served the community as a member of the board of deacons and treasurer at Second Presbyterian Church; the board of directors for the Pulaski County Chapter of the American Red Cross; the Epilepsy Foundation; the Little Rock Boys Club and Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. He and wife Jane breed and raise thoroughbred horses at their farm outside Lexington, Kentucky.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Determined.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? My work with Lyon College.
What was your first job? Packing and Parcel Post.
What do you love about what you do? The challenges and excitement.
Who is your mentor? My father Frank Lyon, Sr.
What is your dream profession? The work that I am currently doing.
Occupation: Governor of Arkansas
Since taking office in 2007, Gov. Mike Beebe has worked hard for the Natural State to improve education, expand Arkansas’ economy and cut taxes for its citizens. He has been a champion of education and economic development and has overseen the state’s rise in education rankings and the creation of more than 26,000 new jobs. A proud Arkansas native, Beebe was born in Amagon, Ark., in 1946. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arkansas State University in 1968, and completed law school at the University of Arkansas in 1972. He and wife, Ginger, have three adult children.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Grateful.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? Helping to lead Arkansas’ rise in national stature and economic progress.
What do you love about what you do? Watching Arkansas grow and knowing that the decisions we make today are going to provide lasting benefits to future generations of Arkansans.
What was your first job? Stocking shelves at the Newport Kroger.
Who is your mentor? Dale Bumpers has had the most influence on my political life. He appointed me to the board of trustees of Arkansas State University in 1974, which started my career in public service.
What is your dream profession? I will retire at the end of this term because I can’t imagine any job better than the one I have now.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? To complete the elimination of the state sales tax on groceries.
Occupation: Owner, Gaston's White River Resort
Jim Gaston took his love of nature and the Natural State and turned it into a lifelong career as owner of Gaston’s White River Resort. He was born in Illinois, raised in Kansas and settled in Lakeview, Ark., when he was 20 to take over the 26-acre resort his father had started. Gaston has developed the resort into a world-renowned troutfishing destination, which occupies 400 acres along the White River. He was appointed to the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission in 1973 and is now a lifetime member. Through his work for Arkansas Parks and Tourism, Gaston has brought life to the tourism industry in the state and help put Arkansas on the map.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Pragmatic.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? Being a part of a group of folks who have worked and are working to build Arkansas Tourism.
What was your first job? "Bucking hay" and working at a Sears store at age 14.
First big break: Having friends who worked with me when I started out in business at age 20.
What do you love about what you do? The resort, serving on the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission … both are my life ... I am lucky to enjoy each day.
Who are your mentors? Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? My only goal is do to my best to serve whatever duty comes forth … seeing what the next day brings.
Occupation: Executive Director, Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB)
Robert Phelps studied at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; he served in the U.S. Army and afterward moved to Little Rock to pursue a career in advertising. After serving as principal in firms in Little Rock , he formed Robert Phelps and Associations. Phelps’ dedication to environmental concerns motivated him and wife Deede to launch an award-winning, anti-litter bumper sticker campaign, “Only Trash Litters,” in 1992. He was named executive director of KAB in 1998. Phelps is a former vestryman and senior warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock; was president of the Arkansas Advertising Federation; and chairman of the State Leaders Council of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. He is a board member of the Arkansas Recycling Coalition and serves on the Arkansas Scenic Byways Commission. Phelps is the recipient of the Diamond Award, honoring lifetime professional achievement, from the Arkansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Q & A
One word that describes you: Optimistic.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of? the development of KAB following the principles of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
What do you love about what you do? the opportunity to contribute to inspiring, educating and engaging individuals to accept personal responsibility for improving their communities.
What philosophy guides you daily? To receive without forgetting and to give without remembering.
What goal is still on your list that you have yet to achieve? I hope to strengthen and increase capacity for the KAB Foundation, so it can expand its ability to influence positive behaviors toward our state’s valued environment and further contribute to its sustainability, economic vitality and quality of life.