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.
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.
Excellerate Foundation (formerly Endeavor 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.
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.
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.
Jeff has decades of experience as a high-level executive at companies in Northwest Arkansas and across the country, including President/COO Simmons Feed Ingredients, Group VP Renewable Products and Senior VP Strategy at Tyson Foods, Inc., VP Global Strategy for Kellogg Company, and CEO/COO for multiple start-ups in technology and human performance sectors.
Jeff is originally from Kalamazoo Michigan, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Ali is the Director of Technology, Marketing, and Security Officer for 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).
Sara is the Director of Community Liaisons at Hark at Excellerate Foundation. Prior to her time at Hark, 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 twelve years and have a son, Will.
Christy is the Director of Technology Development for Hark at Excellerate Foundation. She has worked in Social Services in some capacity since 2004.
Previous to Hark at 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.
Monica is the Director of Diverse Social Networks at Excellerate Foundation. Previous to her time at Excellerate she held numerous positions both in the US and UK.
In Bentonville, AR, Monica was Vice President for the Bentonville Film Festival where she focused on building regional partnerships and engagement with local organizations and was also the Executive Director for Downtown Bentonville, Inc. where she worked on creating community experiences and collaborating with local stakeholders.
During her time in Palo Alto, CA, she worked as a Project Specialist at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in which she focused on building relationships with stakeholders, supported building, developing and growing the campus, and also writing and securing grants.
In London, UK, Monica was a Family and Human Rights Solicitor where she practiced Human Rights law and acted on behalf of asylum seekers. She was also an Attorney and Co-Founder for Duncanson and Co of the Turks and Caicos Islands which utilized her legal skills in the forms of litigation, trials, complex trust law and corporate governance, client fund management, and managing the human resources department.
Monica has her Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree and post-degree professional qualification in legal practice (Diploma in Legal Practice) from the London College of Law. Additionally, she also has her Qualified Lawyers Legal Test (QLTT) which allows her to practice law outside of the UK.
She has lived in Northwest Arkansas for seven years.
Regina is the Administrative Assistant at Excellerate Foundation and has been with the Foundation for thirteen years. Previously, Regina worked at Helen Tyson Middle School in Springdale for eleven years in multiple roles that included Registrar/ Secretary to the Principal and Computer Lab Manager.
Regina studied at the University of Arkansas and hails from Hunstville, AR. She loves spending time with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter as well as extended family and friends.
Steve Lane has served on Excellerate Foundations Board for seven years and has been the Chairman for the past two. Steve plays an integral role at the Foundation by serving on the Executive, Finance, and Housing committees.
Steve’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.
Steve 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, Steve served as a Vice President for a national Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) before forming a brokerage business in Northwest Arkansas.
Steve 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 multiples states for over 15 years. Steve currently has a strong focus on sponsoring investment groups to pursue Northwest Arkansas opportunities.
Steve 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.