25th Anniversary

The History of the Women's Foundation of Arkansas

The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas (WFA) was launched in 1998 when former Arkansas Business Publishing Group CEO, Olivia Farrell, and Pat Lile, then President of the Arkansas Community Foundation, saw the need for funding dedicated to investing in projects that support women and girls in our community. These women were instrumental in seeking out prominent female leaders from “Top 100 Women in Arkansas,” where the idea for an organization for and by women was initiated. We strive to not only expand educational opportunities for women who do not have access to them, but also empower and equip women with necessary resources for emerging occupations, improve the economic status of Arkansas women, and promote mentorship for women and girls who are in need of tangible and emotional support.

Learn more about the WFA and its mission.


Women's Foundation of Arkansas Inducted int the Arkansas Women Hall of Fame

Founded by women for women.

The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas (WFA) initiated the efforts of a group of prominent women leaders to create a charitable fund dedicated to investing in projects for women and girls in Arkansas. In 2002, the WFA became its own 501(c)(3) organization. Arkansas Business Publishing Group began selecting and honoring the “Top 100 Women in Arkansas” in 1995. Each year ABPG sponsored a luncheon at which these women were honored. In 1998, the women were challenged to come up with a way they could collectively make a difference in Arkansas. The idea of a foundation for and by women emerged. The Arkansas Community Foundation and ABPG were asked to lead the effort. They organized a committee, developed plans for the foundation and raised the initial contributions establishing the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. Our official Founder’s Day is January 11, 1998.

The WFA proposed to improve the educational status of Arkansas women and girls by encouraging women and girls to improve their skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The purpose of the WFA would be to train women and girls for emerging occupations, promote mentoring of women and girls, improve the economic status of Arkansas women and girls, and promote philanthropy by and for women.

All current and former Top 100 Women, as well as other prominent Arkansans were challenged to become founders of the WFA with $1,000 contributions. More than 150 women responded. Those listed below contributed and became founding members of WFA.


Betty Abbott // Dr. Dana Abraham // Sharon K. Allen// Sandy Alstadt // Virginia Bailey // Shelby Baker // Emma L. Bass // Dr. Carolyn Blakely // Jan Bolton // Sissi Brandon // Ellen Brantley // Patricia Rhine Brown // Dolores F. Bruce // Joan R. Campbell // Mary Cantrell // Charlie Cole Chaffin // Sandra Cherry // Ellon R. Cockrill // Ethel Cook // Judi S. Dawson // Lynn DeVault // Mary Dillard // Dr. Lee Lee Doyle//  Joy Drummond // Helen T. Dyke // Audrey R. Evans // Olivia Farrell // LaVerne W. Feaster // Karen E. Flake // Maribeth Frazer // Sue Frueauff // Marion W. Fulk // Rebecca Garner // Greer Grace // Dr. Karen G. Grant // Barbara M. Graves // Ellen M. Gray // Jane Hardin // Diana T. Hueter // Catherine L. Hughes // Johnelle D. Hunt // Janet Jones // Myra Jones // Sissy Jones // Brownie W. Ledbetter* // Sharron Johnson Leslie // Jo Knight Light // Betty Lile // Pat Lile // Linda Linn // Margo Low // Diane S. Mackey // Cora McHenry // Dr. Shirolyn Moffett // Dorothy Morris // Beverly Morrow // Billie Ann Myers // Susan Newkirk // Wanda L.N. Hartz // Martha Ann Norton // Kay S.  Patton // Stacy B. Sells // Karen E. Potts // Carolyn Pugh // Janet L. Pulliam // Lisenne Rockefeller // Judge Judith Rogers // Jane Ross // Amy Rossi // Jane P. Saunders // Charlotte T. Schexnayder // Helen Selig // Lottie Shackelford // Mary Gay Shipley // Billie Jo Starr // Jean D. Stockburger // Patti Upton // Cynthia VanWinkle // Sherry Walker // Helen R. Walton // Millie Ward // Carolyn B. Witherspoon

Wo(men) of Worth Support a Second Decade

In honor of the Foundation entering its second decade, the Wo(men) of Worth campaign was launched in 2008 to build on the vision of WFA’s founders.

Wo(men) of Worth donors include individuals from across the state who each gave $2000 to help make the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas an even stronger organization, positively impacting the lives of more women and girls across our state. In its first decade, the Women’s Foundation was able to give out almost $200,000 in grant money.

Sharon K. Allen //Leila Alston // Anonymous // Kay Kelley Arnold // Deborah Baldwin // Dr. Carolyn Blakely //  Dr. Margaret L. Bogle // George Campbell // Martha B. Chowning // Cynthia L. Conger, CPA // Dr. Lee Lee Doyle // Stacy Duckett // Olivia Farrell // Maribeth Moore Frazer // Dr. Cynthia Frazier // Sue M. Frueauff // Dr. Karen Grant // Dr. Sue T. Griffin // Jonathan Groff // Maria Haley // Dorothy Hall // Catherine L. Hughes // Johnelle D. Hunt // Marla Johnson Norris // Linda Linn // Gena Lovett // Dr. Betty Lowe // Melanie Masino // Dorothy Morris // Rosalind Mouser // Debby Thetford Nye // Amy Pierce // Karen Potts // Bryce W. Reveley // James B. Rule // Helen Selig // Mary Gay Shipley // Barbara Sugg // Cynthia Van Winkle // Lynnette Watts // Drs. Robert and Jane Wayland // Carolyn Witherspoon


Encyclopedia Entry about the WFA

Read more about our history.


Read More
Powered by Lapero