A highlight of the luncheon is the keynote address. While the past speakers have come from diverse backgrounds, they have all been powerful and persuasive women who shared their stories of how giving back benefited their communities and created balance in their hectic lives. They challenged those attending to engage others in charitable activity and to imbue a philanthropic spirit in their peers.

Keynote Speakers

Carol Coletta / 2016 Power of the Purse Keynote Speaker / Women's Foundation of Arkansas

Carol Coletta

2016 Keynote Speaker, Little Rock

Carol Coletta is a senior fellow with The Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice. She is leading a proposed $40 million collaboration of foundations, nonprofits and governments to demonstrate the ways in which a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased and more widely share prosperity for cities and neighborhoods.

She formerly was vice president of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She led the two-year start-up of ArtPlace, a public-private collaboration to accelerate creative placemaking in communities across the U.S. and was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities for seven years.

She also served as executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation.

For nine years, she was host and producer of the nationally syndicated weekly public radio show Smart City, where she interviewed more than 900 international leaders in business, the arts and cities.

Carla Harris

Carla Harris

2015 Keynote Speaker, Little Rock

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management as well as Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, is delivering the keynote address to WFA’s 17th annual Power of the Purse luncheon in Little Rock on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Ms. Harris has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. In August 2013, Carla Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council.

Ms. Harris was recently names to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America”; U.S. Bankers Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance (2009, 2010, 2011), Black Enterprise’s Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business (2010), to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 75 African Americans on Wall Street” (2006-2011), and Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World”, Ebony’s list of the Power 100 and “15 Corporate Women at the Top” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004” by the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and in 2011 by the Yale Black Men’s Forum.

Ms. Harris began her career with Morgan Stanley in 1987. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Carla received her MBA from Harvard Business School, Second Year Honors and an AB in economics from Harvard University, Magna Cum Laude. Carla is actively involved in her community and heartily believes that “we are blessed so that we can be a blessing to someone else”.


Susan McPherson

2015 Keynote Speaker, Northwest Arkansas

Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focusing on the intersection between brands and social good, was the keynote speaker at the third annual Power of the Purse luncheon in Northwest Arkansas on Monday, March 9, 2015.

McPherson has more than 25 years experience as a corporate responsibility consultant and social change expert. She is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Triple Pundit. She also invests in and advises technology start-ups, serves on several boards, including Girl Rising, and is an adviser to Girls Who Code, She’s the First, and The OpEd Project.

McPherson was selected as a Vital Voices global corporate ambassador and was named as Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter, and Fast Company’s 25 Smartest Women of Twitter.

See Video Archive on Media for videos from Power of the Purse events.