Shayla Copas has worked extensively with Arkansas non-profit organizations for the past twenty years; including co-chairing the Heart Ball for the American Heart Association, co-chairing the Opus Ball for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and she founded and served as past co-chair of the Arkansas Woman of Inspiration for Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, two years in a row.
She has also served on numerous boards in the central Arkansas area including; Easter Seals of Arkansas, UAMS Psychiatric Institute Advisory Board member, and is currently appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson as a commissioner for the Arkansas Governors Mansion. Past awards and accomplishments include the 2017 Heart Ball Jerry Davis Award, Arkansas Business 40 under 40, and the 2015 KARK Distinguished Service Award by DHS Division of Community Service.
She is also a national award-winning interior designer with her firm Shayla Copas Interiors. Shayla’s firm has been nationally published and recognized for their work, as well as continually named by regional publications as a top design firm in the state of Arkansas. The award for Woman of the Year in Philanthropy acknowledges a woman who is committed to empowering and inspiring women and girls.
We asked Shayla a few questions about what philanthropy means to her.
WFA: Why does philanthropy matter? And what is your personal philanthropy statement- meaning what motivates you to give?
Shayla: Philanthropy is EVERYTHING to a healthy society. It is important to teach “giving back” to our youth so that they will learn to help those that are in need and to be globally conscientious. I personally give to organizations surrounding children and the disabled as it has been my life’s mission to help abused children and disabled adults. I am motivated every single day by remembering where I came from and by thanking the Lord for the ability to help those in need. I think now, more than ever, we need to be “pitching in” to help causes close to our hearts.
WFA: What advice would you give to a “young” philanthropist, for example, a student or someone who is passionate but doesn’t have the discretionary income to make large financial gifts?
Shayla: WOW! This is an excellent question and one that I hear often. You do not need to have a ton of discretionary income to make a difference. Philanthropy can start at any level and every single penny and hour donated makes a HUGE impact on charitable organizations. Over my 20 plus years in philanthropy, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that it is important to impress upon the younger generations the impact they can make…one step at a time. I started my philanthropy in 1995 and at the time could only afford a small donation a year to a charity that I served as a board member with. However, it grew over the years, and my small donations grew as the years went on and as my financial circumstances changed. We have “junior” boards with younger and upcoming philanthropists sprouting all over the city. I would tell our youth to get involved in those organizations and “grow” with the organization. I would also tell a new philanthropist to sit down and and really think about causes that strike your heart! Finding where your heart lies creates passion…once passion has been established, you will make the most impact! In other words, NARROW down to the causes that you truly believe in and you WILL make a difference! One last piece of advice, always make sure to find female mentors that believe in you. Mentors motivate others to succeed. All of us should consider taking younger generations under our wings to help in their success.
WFA: Where do you see the most opportunity for philanthropy to significantly impact the status of women and girls in Arkansas?
Shayla: I see the most impact sprouting in the education of young women in our state! We need more opportunities for young women such as the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas’ – Girls of Promise and Women Empowered programs. We as a state have an obligation to join together to empower girls and women in Arkansas to reach their fullest potential! I take the success of women in our state personal and will do whatever it takes to give back to organizations helping young women succeed.
Tickets to the 2017 Power of the Purse luncheon are officially sold out.
We had so much support this year that we ran out of space for tables at our current venue. In preparation for next year, we are working to secure a larger venue to accommodate all of our supporters and patrons.
We are so humbled by the overwhelming support we have received this year, and want to thank each of our donors and volunteers for continuing to support our mission and cause. Visit our website for other ways you can stay involved.
Anna Beth Gorman is the executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas.