Blake Rickman, vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the UAFS Foundation, and Jennifer Holland, executive director for student retention, have been named to the 2020 class of Leadership Fort Smith, where the two will represent UAFS among 25 of the city’s most committed and ambitious citizens.
Leadership Fort Smith is a 10-month program run by the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, which offers participants an inside look at the Fort Smith Region to better both their civic understanding and their ability to support and empower their community. The annual class assesses the strengths, challenges, needs, and overarching community matters that participants can directly address.
“Leadership Fort Smith is designed to educate and motivate citizens to become leaders in our community,” said a press release from the Chamber. “This is a great professional development opportunity that builds confidence, community relationships, and professional networks.”
Rickman was born and raised in Fort Smith but only returned to the region in a professional capacity this January. After a nine-year career at the University of Arkansas, culminating in his role as the Senior Director of Development & External Relations for the Fulbright College where he oversaw a capital campaign that put the university’s endowment over the $1 billion mark, Rickman brought his skills home to UAFS.
“Fort Smith is my hometown,” Rickman said. “I want to know everything about the city, and I am eager to find new and exciting ways to continue learning. The progress our city has seen over the last few decades indicates that we are a city of continual advancement and growth.”
As for how he can support the city in return, Rickman said, “I want to learn more about the industries, organizations and people of Fort Smith, so that I may better contribute as a citizen and UAFS employee. My professional position provides me a unique opportunity to contribute to the program and ultimately, our community.”
Holland, who began her tenure at UAFS in 2015 as coordinator of non-traditional student support and deputy Title IX coordinator for students remarked, “I am excited to make connections that will be beneficial to our campus and its students, and I look forward to learning more about the rich history, the resources, and the economic drivers in our area.”
“For the last two decades, I have had the opportunity to serve students, and I get to witness, every single day, the power of education.” She continued. “I am honored to represent the campus I am so very proud of in the Leadership Fort Smith program. I have a strong affinity for my community, and a desire to make it better through leadership, effectively making connections, communicating interests and needs, and facilitating beneficial collaborations.”
Only 25 participants are selected each year for Leadership Fort Smith. Selection criteria includes, but is not limited to, demonstrated leadership, potential leadership ability, and commitment to the community. An effort is made to build a diverse, well-rounded class that is representative of Fort Smith.