The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas established the Woman Business Leader of the Year award recognize a woman in Arkansas who has shaped the success of her organization/business and demonstrated leadership, professional achievement and contributed not only to her workplace, but also her community. The award is presented at the Power of the Purse Luncheon in Northwest Arkansas. This award is designed to honor and preserve the names and exemplary accomplishments of women business leaders in Arkansas. Nominees are welcomed from across the state.

Woman Business Leader of the Year Honorees

Elise S. Mitchell / 2016 Woman in Business / Women's Foundation of Arkansas

Elise S. Mitchell

2016 Woman Business Leader of the Year

Elise is an accomplished strategic communications professional whose entrepreneurial spirit helped build Mitchell into one of the top 10 fastest-growing firms globally and a two-time Agency of the Year winner – honored by both PRWeek and The Holmes Report.

Today Mitchell is the leading PR brand in Dentsu Aegis Network, where Elise is also building a global PR capability for the network.

Among many other recognitions, Elise has been named PRWeek Public Relations Professional of the Year and a Top 50 Power Player in PR.

Elise holds a master’s degree from the University of Memphis.  She is a wife, mom, runner, motorcyclist and passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs.

Joan Johnson, Co-Founder & President of White River Hardwoods

Joan Johnson

2015 Woman Business Leader of the Year

Joan Johnson is the Co-Founder and President of White River Hardwoods.

Photo © Beth Hall Photography

©Beth Hall Photography

Martha Moore

2013 Woman Business Leader of the Year

Martha Moore is owner and President of McCormick Works located in Ozark, AR. Growing up in the small town of Altus, Arkansas, Martha experienced first-hand the dire need for change in our economy and country. As a member of the first Mexican-American family in her town, she grew up with a passionate ambition to overcome poverty, to rise to challenges and achieve her lifelong dreams. Martha slowly worked her way up in the company her father, Edward McCormick, started in the 1980’s; from steamroller operator to secretary to office manager and ultimately buying the company piece by piece until she was 100% owner. Martha is now approaching her 22nd year of business, which alone is cause for celebration in these tough economic times. She has built strong relationships with many men and women in the industry, and has established a well-supported and solid reputation for her company.

McReynolds-Judy

Judy McReynolds

2012 Woman Business Leader of the Year

Judy R. McReynolds is President and Chief Executive Officer of ArcBest CorporationSM, responsible for managing the multi-billion dollar freight transportation and logistics services company, including oversight of the operating companies ABF FreightSM, ABF LogisticsSM, Panther Premium LogisticsSMand FleetNet America®. Since 2010, Ms. McReynolds has also held the post of Director of ArcBest Corporation, and is the only member of the company’s senior management who serves on the board. Her 25 years of transportation industry experience, including 18 years at ArcBest, provides significant value to the board.

During her tenure, Ms. McReynolds has evolved the ArcBest strategic focus to expand beyond its core less-than-truckload services in order to better serve customers across the supply chain spectrum. Building upon ABF Freight’s 90-year-old roots as an LTL leader, she is diversifying ArcBest into an all-inclusive transportation and logistics provider through the addition of non-asset-based and asset-light businesses. These include the 2012 purchase of Panther, which provides time-sensitive, mission-critical delivery and premium logistics, and the 2013 formation of ABF Logistics as a complementary sister company to ABF Freight.

Previously, Ms. McReynolds was Senior Vice President – Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Vice President – Controller, and Director of Corporate Accounting when she joined the company in 1997. Prior to joining ArcBest, she served as Director of Financial Reporting and Taxation with P.A.M. Transportation Services, Inc. and as a Senior Manager of Ernst & Young LLP.

Ms. McReynolds serves on numerous outside boards including OGE Energy Corp., First National Bank of Fort Smith, the Transportation Industry Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Westark Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She also serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, the UAFS Foundation Board and is a member of the American Trucking Associations Board of Directors and Executive Committee. A Certified Public Accountant, Ms. McReynolds holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Oklahoma.

Nominate a Woman Business Leader of the Year for 2016


Selection & Presentation Details

Nominations for the 2016 Woman Business Leader of the Year are now being accepted. The state-wide award will be presented at WFA’s Power of the Purse – Northwest Arkansas to be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas Women’s Advisory Council will review the nominations and recommend an honoree to WFA’s Board of Directors for approval.

Self nominations are welcome. Please submit nominations in their entirety to ensure adequate consideration of nominee’s contributions to the state.


Nomination Criteria

  • Nominees may be living or posthumous*.
  • Business/professional success
    • Nominee has made a significant impact as a business leader; is recognized primarily as a business leader and for her managerial success.
    • Accomplishments such as starting and building her business or leading an established business to greater achievements are especially noteworthy.
    • Industry recognition, being an industry pioneer and/or leader and recognition by peers and others for her achievements are also considered.
    • Demonstrated the highest level of ethics in her business dealings.
  • History of helping/supporting/promoting women
  • Has made an impact on her company and community.
    • Nominee displays concern for improving her community as a business leader and community member.
  • A woman living within the state of Arkansas.
  • A consideration will be given for diversity.
  • The person will be non-political and not controversial.
  • Support of and involvement with WFA is preferable but not mandatory.
  • Nominations will remain on file for five years.
  • Nominations must be submitted by the nomination deadline to be considered for the upcoming award year.

*For posthumous nominations, please include date of death and mailing address information for a relative or contact.

Nomination Letter Requirements

To nominate an exceptional woman for this award, please send the following details to awards@womensfoundationarkansas.org with the subject line “Nomination: Woman Business Leader of the Year Award”

  • Nominee’s Name
  • Job Title/Business
  • Contact information (if available):
    • Phone
    • Email Address
    • Mailing Address
  • Specific outstanding professional accomplishments meriting the award
  • Professional recognition received (with dates)
  • Activities and accomplishments in public service (boards, committees, consultantships, civic and/or service activities, important offices held, etc)
  • Why are you nominating this woman?
  • Your Name
  • Your preferred contact information:
    • Phone
    • Email Address
    • Mailing Address

Nominators may include additional supporting documentation. Please submit nominations in their entirety to ensure adequate consideration of nominee’s contributions to the state.

For posthumous nominations, please include date of death and contact information for a relative or contact.

Nominations may also be submitted via postal mail sent to WFA’s mailing address c/o “Woman Business Leader of the Year Award”.