past Speakers

 
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Nick Brown

President/CEO, Southwest Power Pool

Nick Brown was elected president and CEO of SPP in 2003. In his current position, he serves in the board of directors and is responsible for ensuring that SPP achieves its mission and goals.

Prior to this position, Mr. Brown served SPP members as senior vice president and corporate secretary from 1999-2003; vice president and corporate secretary from 1998-1999; director, engineering and operations from 1993-96; manager, engineering services from 1989-1993; and in several engineering positions since joining the SPP staff in 1985. Mr. Brown began his career as a planning engineer at Southwestern Electric Power Company.

Nick received Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and math from Ouachita Baptist University and in electrical engineering from Louisiana Tech University. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advance Management Program. A registered professional engineer and master electrician, Nick is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu engineering honor societies, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Nick has served on the board of directors of the Electric Power Research Institute and has served on numerous organizational groups of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation over the past 30 years.

 
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James “Kirk” Thompson

Chairman of the Board, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

Thompson was elected to the Board in 1985 and was elected Chairman of the Board in 2010 after serving 23 years as President and Chief Executive Officer.

J.B. Hunt grew from $63 million in revenue to $400 million in revenue from 1983 to 1988, during which time Thompson was promoted to president and CEO. Today, J.B. Hunt Transport Services has revenues of $7 billion making it one of the largest publicly held transportation logistics companies in North America.

Thompson, an Arkansas Business Hall of Fame inductee, joined the company as CFO at just 26 years old and three years later he guided J.B. Hunt through its initial public offering.

A graduate of the University of Arkansas and a Certified Public Accountant, serves on the board of directors for Rand Logistics.

 
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Mark Saviers

Principal, Sage Partners

R. Mark Saviers has more 35 years of experience in developing and leasing office buildings, business parks, datacenters, warehouses, and corporate headquarter/campuses. He began his real estate career in 1982, and spent the first ten years in the development, property management, construction, and disposition of commercial real estate with the Trammell Crow Company. Experience with the company spanned four cities – Dallas, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Chicago. In Chicago, Mark was the Division Partner in charge of all industrial properties and related companies.

Currently Mark is a Partner with Sage Partners, a commercial real estate firm he co-founded with offices in Northwest Arkansas and in Little Rock. He is also a partner in Tempus Realty Partners, a Little Rock based real estate investment firm.

Mark, current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arkansas Children’s Inc., is the author of the newly published book, Flipped, which tells the story of how faith, family, friends and community came together to create triumph over tragedy.

 
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Cameron Smith

CEO, Cameron Smith & Associates

Since Cameron Smith founded CSA in 1994, he and his team have been credited with luring hundreds of Walmart supplier offices into Northwest Arkansas, creating thousands of high-paying jobs.

A leader in the supplier community, Cameron is actively involved in efforts to enhance technology, international trade opportunities, and higher educational resources available to world-class companies working in conjunction with Walmart. He was recognized by Arkansas Business as the 2014 Business Executive of the Year.

A California native and former professional fast-pitch softball pitcher, Cameron spearheaded conversion of girls’ softball from slow-pitch to fast-pitch in the state of Arkansas.

Cameron is married to Monica Smith, who is also the CFO of the company. Smith serves on the board of America’s CarMart.

 
Donnie Smith, Tyson

Donnie Smith

Former CEO, Tyson Foods, Inc.

Donnie Smith’s passion for leadership has been the hallmark of his 36-year career in the food business. As president and CEO of Tyson Foods from 2009 to 2016, he led the company to focus on feeding the world great, affordable food, while also making a positive difference in people’s lives. Under his leadership, Tyson Foods achieved four straight years of record profits, multiplying stock value six times in seven years.

Throughout his career, Donnie worked to learn every angle of Tyson Foods’ business. He joined the company in 1980, working in poultry operations for seven years in Tennessee before moving to the company’s headquarters in Springdale, Ark., where he started as a commodity buyer. He was named director of commodity purchasing in 1991 and during the next several years added complementary responsibilities to his management portfolio: logistics, purchasing and information systems in 2006; and engineering, food safety and quality assurance, and environmental health and safety in 2007. He moved into the company’s consumer products division in 2008 and was named senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods in early 2009, the same year he was appointed as president and CEO.  

He now serves as a consultant for Tyson Foods, while also focusing on his continued work to feed the world. He and his wife Terry are native Tennesseans and have three children and one grandchild.

Donnie earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and continues to be involved in his alma mater.

 

 
Be just as comfortable in the breakroom as the boardroom.
— Donnie Smith, CEO Tyson Foods (2009-2016