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New Leadership for AEAF

Kathleen Lawson, executive director of Economics Arkansas; and Steve Rice, entrepreneurship instructor for the Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA); have been elected as new members to the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF) Board of Directors.

AEAF was established in 1999 as a 501(c)(3) affiliate of Arkansas Capital Corporation. The mission of AEAF is to be a catalyst in an environment focused on ideas and initiatives that nurture Arkansas’s future entrepreneurs, especially young Arkansans living in underserved communities.

“The Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition and the Youth Entrepreneur Showcase for Arkansas are our most notable initiatives,” said Sam Walls, president of AEAF and president and COO of Arkansas Capital. “To date, more than 11,000 Arkansas youth and young adults will have competed, gaining a real-world entrepreneurial experience and a further development of the financial knowledge and skills they need after they leave school.

“Economics Arkansas and ASMSA have long supported AEAF and its mission,” Walls noted. “Through these organizations, Kathleen and Steve have a direct pulse on what teachers in our middle, junior high, and high schools say their students are hungry for when it comes to financial and entrepreneurial education. Their expertise will greatly help AEAF stay relevant and true to its mission in the exciting times ahead, especially given the ongoing advances of technology.”

In addition to his role at ASMSA, Rice is also the founder of “Start Here Little Rock,” a community-led initiative that seeks to close the gap in access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Lawson has more than 15 years of nonprofit management, including serving as the director of the Arkansas Discovery Network for six years before joining Economics Arkansas.

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