Everyone in Northwest Arkansas deserves the opportunity to thrive.

As Northwest Arkansas grows, so does its prosperity. But for many in our community that prosperity remains out of reach. More than 150,000 people in Benton, Madison, and Washington County face financial insecurity, housing instability, and a host of other challenges every single day. These people need tangible, lasting change in the systems that shape their lives, and they need someone to fight for that change right now.

Helping drive lasting change.

Excellerate, a name combining ‘excellence’ and ‘accelerate’, knows that transforming our region requires strategy, diligence, and, most importantly, decisive action that keeps the process moving forward. It must also be a collaborative effort, one that allows each of us to bring our knowledge, our talents, and our resources to the table so that we can play to our collective strengths. Together, we can build a Northwest Arkansas where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Our History

Excellerate Foundation was established through the sale of Springdale Memorial Hospital and Bates Memorial Hospital in Bentonville in 1998. As a result, Excellerate focuses its efforts on the service areas of the two hospitals: Benton, Madison, and Washington counties.

Excellerate has always leveraged its assets to impact the greatest needs of Northwest Arkansas, including primary and secondary education, health and well-being, and community building among our diverse residents. Since inception, Excellerate has invested more than $115 million to improve the lives of all those who call Northwest Arkansas home.

 

 

 

 

Driving Toward the Future

We are now Excellerate Foundation, which reflects our ongoing commitment to excellence and a new focus on accelerating decisive action. We will continue to invest in the forward-looking ideas and tangible solutions of our ever inventive and resourceful community. But we will also step forward to drive lasting change when we see untapped opportunities through our data-driven insights. We will operate at the systems level, standing side by side with the businesses, municipalities, and institutions that shape our region, developing a shared vision and a common will to ensure that all may fully benefit from the prosperity of Northwest Arkansas.

This more proactive approach towards the bigger picture and long-term impact defines Excellerate as we move into the next phase of our work.

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Excellerate Leadership

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Jeff Webster

President / Chief Executive Officer

As President/CEO of Excellerate Foundation, Jeff works closely with Excellerate’s Board of Directors and is responsible for the overall management, leadership, and strategic direction of the Foundation.

Of late, Jeff has played a pivotal role in addressing the housing crisis in Northwest Arkansas. Projects have included coordinating a $40MM community tax credit housing syndicate, chairing the Bentonville Affordable Housing workgroup, and bringing forward multiple affordable housing partnerships.

Jeff also brings decades of experience as a high-level executive at companies in Northwest Arkansas and across the country, including President/COO of Simmons Feed Ingredients, Group VP of Renewable Products and Senior VP of Strategy at Tyson Foods, Inc., VP of Global Strategy for Kellogg Company, and CEO/COO for multiple start-ups in technology and human performance sectors.

Originally from Kalamazoo Michigan, Jeff attended Michigan State University in their Geophysics program and attended Northwestern's Executive Development Program. Jeff is married to his wife Teena of 36 years and has two daughters and 4 granddaughters all residing in NWA.

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Susan Upchurch

Chief Financial Officer

Susan is the Chief Financial Officer responsible for all financial and administrative activities at Excellerate Foundation. She brings decades of experience across a wide set of financial disciplines. 

Previously, Susan had a twenty-one-year career at Tyson Foods, Inc. where she held various Director and Senior Director roles in External Financial Reporting, Shared Services Accounting, Retail and Foodservice Sales Finance, and Foodservice Revenue Management.  

Before Tyson Foods, she was an Auditor at Ernst & Young LLC in Little Rock, AR for five years.

Susan graduated from Hendrix College with a BA in Economics and Business with an Emphasis in Accounting. She is also a Certified Public Accountant.

She has lived in Northwest Arkansas for the last 21 years with her husband and three children.

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Justin Fletcher

Chief Program Officer

Justin Fletcher leads and directs the implementation of the foundation's philanthropic investments, demonstrating forward-looking ideas and tangible solutions to the most urgent issues in Benton, Madison, and Washington counties.

Justin joined Excellerate in 2012, leveraging more than two decades of experience in arts and nonprofit management, fundraising, and program development. Much of his career was spent in Chicago, IL, where he served as artistic director for both City of Chicago and off-Loop theater companies, as well as in development roles for After School Matters, Chicago's premier organization for out-of-school time programming for high school teens in underserved communities.

Justin sits on the steering committees for Arkansas Impact Philanthropy—which supports the creation of more equitable systems across the state—and the Arkansas chapter of the Asset Funders Network—which engages philanthropy to advance economic opportunity and prosperity for low and moderate income people.

Justin graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama. He lives in his hometown of Fayetteville with his wife and children and is so grateful to be able to give back to the region that has given so much to him.

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Josh Hall, LCSW

Vice President / Executive Director Hark at Excellerate Foundation

During his over ten year career in human services, Josh has gained extensive experience in a multitude of practice areas including clinical services, program development, and implementation, curriculum development, clinical supervision, poverty, multicultural issues, community development, organizational strategy and management, and social justice advocacy.

Josh received his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas.

Although not a native on NWA, Josh, his wife, and their two sons, Luke and Josiah, have put down significant roots. Having lived in Northwest Arkansas for twelve years, Josh and his family love the community and enjoy all it has to offer.

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Jamion T. Nash

Vice President / Excellerate Housing
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Ali Johnson

Director / Marketing

Ali is the Director of Marketing at Excellerate Foundation. Prior to Excellerate, Ali has overseen the build and launch of multiple technology platforms and applications including Hark at Excellerate Foundation.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas and the Razorback soccer team in 2008, Ali was armed with a Bachelor of Science and a specific concentration in Marketing. She gained extensive knowledge and experience at Fortune 500’s, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., in operations, customer success, market research, and national account sales and was also was a part of the company’s first Women’s Executive Resource Group.

After JBHT, Ali joined the team at Field Agent where she helped build, launch, and run a location-specific smart device application that allowed users to “check-in” at designated venues called ClassCheck.  

Ali has been in Northwest Arkansas since 1990 and is married (Justin) with three kids (Parker, Easton, & Palmer).  

Excellerate Team

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Sara Allbright, LCSW

Director / Programs

Sara is the Director of Programs at Excellerate Foundation. Prior to her time at Excellerate, Sara’s postgraduate professional focus was in mental health services with a special emphasis on trauma therapy practices as well as serving as a clinical supervisor for the NWA region. Sara has also worked as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) contract manager, served as a lecturer for the University of Arkansas School of Social Work and provides supervision for social work licensure. 

Sara received her Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Human Services from John Brown University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Arkansas.

Sara and her husband, Tyler, have lived in NWA for over a decade and have a son, Will. 

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Lacey Bailey

Director / Social Support

Lacey is the Director of Social Support at Excellerate Foundation.  Prior to Excellerate, Lacey spent over a decade in the implementation and growth of Camp War Eagle, where her work focused on program development, strategic recruitment, and community partnerships. Lacey also worked as a Program Manager for Girls on the Run in Kansas City, Missouri, building corporate support and collaboration for under-resourced communities.

Lacey received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Ouachita Baptist University. 

She and her husband, Josh, have called Northwest Arkansas home for a decade, where they are raising their three daughters (Annalee, Eleanor, and Brynn).

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Christy Guiterrez

Director / Technology, Security & Privacy Officer

Christy is the Director of Technology for Excellerate Foundation and in addition serves as our Security & Privacy Officer. She has worked in Social Services in some capacity since 2004. 

Previous to Excellerate Foundation, Christy worked at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County in various roles; Bilingual Advocate and Bilingual Advocacy Team Lead. Additionally, she has held two international posts in both El Salvador and Costa Rica. In both countries, she focused on initiatives to strengthen community members while addressing the needs for systemic change within the communities. 

Christy got her BA of Science in Family and Human Services/Psychology from John Brown University. 

She has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years and loves spending time with her husband and son. 

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Beau Henson

Director / Analysis & Insights

Beau is the Director of Analytics and Insights for Excellerate Foundation. Beau comes to Excellerate with over 25 years of experience in Analytics and Supply Chain management. He has spent the previous 20 years in various roles at Tyson Foods, most recently serving in the position of Senior Director of Supply Chain Analysis, where he played a vital role in Tyson’s S&OP and inventory management processes.

Beau is a graduate of the University of Chicago, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 1995. A native of Northeast Ohio, Beau has been a resident of Northwest Arkansas since 2003, where he and his wife, Emily, have raised their four children, Garrett, Connor, Brady, and Ella.

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Sara Bynum

Office Manager

Excellerate Board Members

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Stephen Dacus

Chair

Stephen Dacus brings a wealth of business and legal knowledge in his role as a board member at Excellerate Foundation. In addition to being the Chair of our board, he serves on our Hark, Social Support (as Chair), and Finance committees.

As a Partner at Kutak Rock LLP, Stephen focuses on complex business disputes in state and federal trial and appellate courts. He has represented clients across a wide range of industries including financial services, technology, and healthcare, and has a brilliant litigating record in business-related disputes like breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, intellectual property and trade secret litigation, and more.

Stephen began his law career in Dallas at K & L Gates. He and his wife Leslie moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2014 to be closer to family and to be part of the vibrant and wonderful community. Stephen and Leslie are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Elle and Audrey.

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Kelly Sikorski

Vice Chair

Kelly Sikorski, the Vice Chair of the Excellerate Foundation board, additionally holds roles on the Education, Finance, and Housing committees. She has served in the retail world for over 17 years as the Vice President of Corporate Finance at Walmart and previous to that was the Vice President of Finance at Sam’s Club.

Kelly and her family live in Bentonville, AR where she enjoys things like running, knitting, and reading books.

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Steve Lane

Acting Treasurer

Steve Lane’s professional career spans three decades and covers a wide variety of commercial real estate disciplines including corporate real estate, land development, sales and leasing, structuring investments, and asset management. 

Lane began his career in Arkansas in 1992 with Walmart Stores’ Real Estate Department, where he became a top producer.  After leaving Walmart to pursue shopping center development, Lane served as a Vice President for a national Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) before forming a brokerage business in Northwest Arkansas.

Lane merged his brokerage firm with Colliers International in 2004 and currently serves as Managing Director of the Northwest Arkansas office, where his responsibilities include the overall financial performance of the office as well as his personal brokerage.  He has received the Everest Club designation from Colliers multiple times, which recognizes the top 10% of all Colliers commercial real estate brokers throughout the United States.  His personal brokerage focus has been in retail, specifically shopping centers, and he has represented Ross Dress for Less stores in multiple states for over 15 years.  Lane currently has a strong focus on sponsoring investment groups to pursue Northwest Arkansas opportunities. 

Lane holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Missouri.  He lives in Rogers with Kim, his wife of 26 years, and their two children Sophie and Mason, where they are active members of Central United Methodist Church.

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Dr. Lucas Campbell, MD

Lucas Campbell, MD, currently serves as the Chief Transformation Officer at Washington Regional. There, he provides clinical oversight of system clinics, population health, and practice transformation initiatives, and works collaboratively with leaders and key stakeholders on systemwide strategic planning and key initiatives.

Before Washington Regional, Dr. Campbell served as president/CEO of Northwest Arkansas Pathology Associates where he was a partner and practicing pathologist. In that role, he provided pathology services throughout the region, including serving as medical director of the clinical laboratory at Washington Regional Medical Center. Dr. Campbell also completed two years of service on the Washington Regional Medical System board of directors.

Dr. Campbell earned his medical degree and completed his residency in anatomical and clinical pathology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock and at St. Louis University in Missouri. He is board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology.

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Robin Eason

For the past 22 years, Robin Eason has served in both medical and education arenas.  She now also serves on Excellerate Foundation’s Education and Social Support committees.

Robin is the Ambulatory Manager for Patient Experience at Washington Regional Medical Center.  Her primary role is responsible for assisting in the development, leading, monitoring, and modifying of the overall organizational approach to the patient and family experience. In her role, she develops process improvement interventions that solve operational problems and improves quality, service, and productivity in the ambulatory setting and facilities within the system. 

Robin served as Vice President of Instruction for Northwest Technical Institute for three years.  Prior to that, she served as the chair of the Surgical Technology department, the Director of Allied Health, the Assistant Director of Allied Health, and the Chief Compassion Officer. Prior to those duties, she worked for North Hills Surgery Center in the operating room assisting surgeons in all fields of specialties.

A native Texan, Robin has a B.S. degree in Business and Technical Writing, and a minor in English from the University of Houston.  She also holds a CST (Certified Surgical Technologist) from Northwest Technical Institute, which allows her to work in the operating room.

Robin and her husband Drew reside in Fayetteville and have one son, Charles who lives in Texas.

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Julio Echegoyen

Julio was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and currently resides in Fayetteville,
Arkansas, where he leads P&G’s Walmart Global Operations Team. Julio has
responsibility for one of P&G’s largest customers, Walmart International, as well
as Strategy across Walmart US Health, Beauty & Grooming, and Global
Sustainability.


For the past 29 years, Julio has worked in Sales & Financial management at
P&G, in various geographies around the world, and for various product areas
and services. Julio’s expertise in Walmart expands 25 years, with multiple
assignments in the US and Latin America, across Sales, Category Management,
Finance, and Customer Team/Country Leadership.


Julio was awarded a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with
an emphasis in Economics, Accounting, and Computer Science, and a Masters of
Business Administration degree with emphasis in Leadership and Ethics, 
from John Brown University, where he was a Walton International Scholar. He
and his wife of 28 years, enjoy spending time with family and teaching at their
local church. They are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters.
Julio is passionate about developing leaders and active in his church, the
community and several non-profit organizations in Northwest Arkansas.

Today, Julio serves as Chair of the Executive Advisory Committee of LatinXNA, a non-
profit organization focused on elevating, empowering, and engaging Latino Talent throughout every sector in Northwest Arkansas. Julio also serves on the
Excellerate Board, as well as Banco Si Advisory Board, a division of Signature
Bank.

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Dr. Yvette Murphy-Erby

Dr. Yvette Murphy-Erby, a Professor of Social Work, joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in 2004 and has served in numerous administrative roles including director of the School of Social Work, associate dean for the college of arts and sciences, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, and director of African and African American studies.  Yvette is also the owner of Facilitate Forward www.Facilitateforward.com

Noted for her speaking, training, and facilitation skills, Yvette has a passion and heart for service to under-supported populations and a commitment to promoting leadership development and leading change in ways that promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations and climates. In addition to being an active change agent, Yvette maintains an extensive research agenda.  In collaboration with colleagues, Yvette has received over $17 million dollars in external funding and has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and a book. 

Yvette has received numerous awards and recognitions from academic institutions that she has been associated with; including, The Pacesetter Award presented by the University of North Carolina-Greensboro College of Health and Human Services, the Outstanding Faculty Leader Award presented by the University of Arkansas Academic Affairs: Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Social Work Distinguished Alumna Award, and The Excellence in Leadership for Advocacy and Activism Award from The University of North Carolina Charlotte.  Yvette has also received several distinguished and lifetime achievement awards. 

Yvette received her BA from the University of North Carolina–Charlotte (1985), MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill (1991) and her PhD from UNC-Greensboro (2004).  Yvette and her husband Anthony Erby, reside in Fayetteville and they enjoy fishing and boating, hanging out at the lake, and playing with their 95-pound fur-baby.

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Ryan Faust

Ryan joined Excellerate Foundation's board in 2023 and sits on the housing and social support committees.  

Ryan is a Founding Partner and the Managing Principal of BUF Studio.  He is involved in overall company strategic growth initiatives ensuring the BUF Studio team delivers on the company vision. He focuses on team building, employee engagement, growth and leadership, and cross-office collaboration instilling the three core values of the company across the entire organization.  He is also involved in critical project moments, ensuring that employees and clients are fully supported for the success of their projects.

In addition to his work with Excellerate Foundation, Ryan works with the Mercy Health Foundation and the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County.  Working with non-profits to help them realize a vision is a rich and rewarding experience.  He and his family are grateful for all Northwest Arkansas has offered them and work to give back to those that want to continue to grow the area to new levels.

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Will Gladden

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Thomas R. Harris

Excellerate Foundation's newest board member, Thomas R. Harris, is the Co-Founder of Klearvision Group LLC/Director of Real Estate Development Cardinal Capital Management, inc. A development firm where he was responsible for generating interest in developments and initiating company growth by networking and partnering with officials on local and state levels, and developers. Harris also works closely with elected officials to create innovative solutions to redevelop difficult sites and to help address housing needs in urban areas throughout Northwest Arkansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, S.Carolina, Arizona and Colorado. 

Prior to Klearvision Group & Cardinal Capital, Thomas spent more than a decade working in local, county, state and federal government including serving as Chief of Staff in the Wisconsin State Senate, Director of Community Relations for the Milwaukee County Executive, and Special Assistant to Milwaukee’s Mayor. He also worked as an associate in Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Government Affairs Department, lobbying in Wisconsin, Chicago and Washington D.C. During his years in government service.

Harris proudly fought for and helped bring about significant change. From his instrumental role in helping reinstate the Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission to his work on criminal justice reform. Harris holds his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Pre-Law and Masters in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His experience and thought leadership will be paramount to us as he serves on our Hark and Housing subcommittees. 

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Curtiss Smith

Curtiss Smith is a Board Member of Excellerate Foundation and serves on the Social Services and Hark committees. He is also the Senior Pastor of the 1100-member Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas which has been a pillar of the Northwest Arkansas community since 1865. As the church's Senior Pastor, he leads the church in vision casting, spiritual development, and community engagement. 

Curtiss spent 13 years at Walmart Stores, Inc. and held assignments in Real Estate, Store Operations, Labor Relations, Human Resources, and Diversity where he established and developed the company’s Associate Resource Groups that have become the emerging business areas of focus for the company’s growth in the diversity market sectors. He enthusiastically serves on the Board of The Joshua Center and Washington County Habitat for Humanity.

Curtiss’ passion is creating dignity in the lives of the underserved, disenfranchised, and poor communities and works to raise the standard of hope to transform their lives.

Curtiss has BS in Business and ThM (Theology). Curtiss and his wife Jacinda reside in Springdale and have four adult children and two grandchildren.

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Rick Parsons (emeritus)

Rick Parsons has been bettering Northwest Arkansas for over 65 years. We are proud to have Rick as a board member at Excellerate Foundation. Rick currently serves on our Finance and Housing committees and provides us with immeasurable direction, knowledge, and guidance.

Rick has over a 40-year career with Bank of America and also served as a Credit Risk Executive for Coopers & Lybrand for a period of time previous to B of A.

A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Rick and his beautiful family reside in Springdale where they are constantly giving back to our region.

 

Excellerate Is Hiring

 

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Together, we can drive systemic change in Northwest Arkansas.


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Together, we can drive systemic change in Northwest Arkansas.