2019 Speakers


Marcy Doderer

President & CEO, Arkansas Children’s, Inc.

Doderer took the helm as President and Chief Executive Officer of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in 2013. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from a single hospital to the state’s only pediatric health system.

Previously, she served as a member of senior leadership for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System in various capacities since 2002. Doderer became Administrator for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in 2008 and led the effort to transform the facility into the freestanding Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

Doderer is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives and currently serves as a member of the Children’s Hospital Solutions for Patient Safety Board of Directors, the Education Committee of the Children’s Hospital Association and the board of Healthy Active Arkansas.

She obtained her BS in Finance from Trinity University in San Antonio and her MA in Hospital and Health Administration from The University of Iowa.


Ed Choate

President & CEO, Delta Dental of Arkansas

Choate joined Delta Dental of Arkansas as president and CEO in 2000. Prior to joining Delta Dental of Arkansas, he worked for 20 years in the managed healthcare industry in leadership roles at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, NovaSys Health and HealthScope Benefits.

Choate was named Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 2006 and was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. Delta Dental was chosen as the Arkansas Business of the Year in 2013 and has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Arkansas every year since 2013.

Choate is chairman of the Baptist Health Board of Trustees, a past chair of the Delta Dental Plans Association and DeltaUSA Boards of Directors. He is recognized as a Board Leadership Fellow by the National Association of Corporate Directors and attended the Stanford Law School Director’s College in 2018.

Choate is a graduate of Southern Arkansas University.


Ronald L. Dedman

President, AT&T Arkansas

Dedman has been with A&T since 1974, starting his career with the company when it was operating as Southwestern Bell. His tenure with the company began as an intern and he has been part of numerous business and technology upgrades within the company.

Dedman was promoted twice in 2018, first as Regional Director of External Affairs in Jan. 2018 and then to President of AT&T Arkansas in June 2018. He has worked in operator services, marketing and external affairs.

Dedman, 1978 graduate of Arkansas State University, has served on numerous boards during his career, including a stint as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and as a twice-appointed board member of Pulaski Technical College. Other board appointments have included the Arkansas State University Foundation, Little Rock Boys & Girls Club and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.


John W. Allison

Founder & Chairman Home BancShares, Centennial Bank

Allison is founder of Home BancShares and Centennial Bank, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Home BancShares ranked No. 1 on Forbes “Best Banks in America” list for 2018 and 2019. It is one of only seven publicly traded banks or thrift holding companies currently assigned an A-plus (Excellent) rating by The Street Ratings.

Allison served more than 20 years as chairman of the board of First National Bank of Conway (now Regions Bank) and was chairman of the executive committee of the former Little Rock based holding company First Commercial Corporation.

Allison, a graduate of Arkansas State University, served on the ASU Board of Trustees from 1979-1984 and in 1988 was named Distinguished Alumni from ASU. Allison is a member of the Arkansas State Police board and in 2013 was named 2013 Community Banker of the year by American Banker Magazine.

Allison was named Business and Professional Leader of the Year in 2018 by the Rotary Club of Little Rock.


Donnie Smith

Former CEO, Tyson Foods

Smith’s passion for leadership has been the hallmark of his 36-year career in the food business. As President & CEO of Tyson Foods from 2009 to 2016, he led the company four straight years of record profits, multiplying stock value six times in seven years.

Smith worked to learn every angle of Tyson Foods’ business and joined the company in 1980, serving seven years in Poultry Operations. He was named director of Commodity Purchasing in 1991 and spent the next few years added responsibilities to his management portfolio ranging from logistics to engineering and quality assurance.

He now serves as a consultant for Tyson Foods and focuses on his continued work to feed the world. Smith is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and continues to be involved in his alma mater.

It matters to people around you that you have a purpose.
— Donnie Smith, CEO Tyson Foods (2009-2016)

*Speakers subject to change.