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Alex Cornett
CEO (Interim)

Alex serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Milestone Leadership. He has over 35 years of leadership experience in the food industry, working in leadership roles at Steak and Ale Corporation, The Pillsbury Company, and General Mills and Milestone, as well as working voluntarily for a variety of non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Milestone Leadership, Alex built Pillsbury’s cross-functional business team in Northwest Arkansas, leading the team through and after the General Mills acquisition of Pillsbury. He later led sales and marketing efforts across the Supercenter and Division 1 formats and was also responsible for leading the General Mills partnership with Walmart’s rapidly growing Small Format division.

In addition, Alex worked with the General Mills International Team to build and scale the international partnership between Walmart and General Mills and served as the supplier lead for Walmart’s Sustainable Food and Agricultural network. Alex’s areas of expertise are Strategic Planning, Executive Coaching, Starting and Leading Multifunctional Customer Teams, Sales, Innovation and Marketing. Alex is on the Board of Directors for JOYN LLC, has been active on the Development Council for The Jones Center and the Walton Arts Center, and was a Board member for the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas-Arlington.

My last meal would be

Pork Chops and Spaghetti (family recipe passed down for generations)

Podcast recommendations

Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History

Favorite time of day


If I’ve learned one thing it is

Legacy is not what people will say about you when you are gone, it is what people will do because of you.

Things I value most in life

Community, Loyalty, Healthy Relationships, Generosity and Small Delights

Sandy Tush

Sandy serves as Director at Milestone Leadership. She is involved in the creation and delivery of programs that fulfill Milestone’s mission of Building Leaders Worth Following. This work includes the utilization of a variety of assessment instruments to help leaders identify their strengths and development needs. Sandy oversees the assessment suite, and her certifications include The Birkman Method, MBTI, EQ-i 2.0, Change Style Indicator, and CCL’s Benchmarks 360 degree feedback tools.

Sandy brings over 35 years of experience in adult education and leadership development. She served as the Executive Development Center program manager at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., before joining Milestone. Prior to that, she held the position of Content Developer / Facilitator for Home Office People Development. She also taught Computer Science courses at community colleges. Sandy is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and holds the SHRM-CP certification as well as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR). Sandy is passionate about healthy living and is a Mayo Clinic certified Wellness Coach.

My last meal would be

Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Then a big, rich slice of chocolate cake. Probably the whole cake!

My first car

1968 Mustang. It was loud, with a jacked up back end and wide back tires. I loved that car!

Favorite time of day

Definitely morning

Best advice I ever received

You can have it all, just not all at the same time.

Things I value most in life

Faith, Family, Excellence, Enthusiasm, Compassion

Stephanie Brown
Operations Manager

Stephanie serves as Operations Manager at Milestone Leadership, leading the Fellowship program and supporting program delivery. She first joined the organization in 2010 as a Graduate Fellow. Following graduation, Stephanie worked in the nonprofit sector before rejoining Milestone Leadership.

She is passionate about developing future leaders and fulfilling Milestone’s mission to build leaders worth following. Stephanie holds certifications in The Birkman Method and CCL’s Benchmarks 360 Degree Feedback tools. Stephanie is married to Andrew Brown, and is mother to Ellis Jane.

Podcast Recommendation

The Daily

Favorite book

A Farewell to Arms

Favorite time of day

Early morning

Best advice I ever received

Just do the next right thing

Things I value most in life

Relationship, Truth, Action, Growth, Joy

Kristy Keith
Administrative Assistant

Kristy serves as the Administrative Assistant for Milestone Leadership. She has been with Milestone Leadership since 2016. She is married to Aaron Keith and is mom to Bailey, Brittany, Andrew, Kamryn and Addison as well as Lolli to Ivie Christine. She loves her family and is super passionate about supporting them in all they do.

Favorite thing at an amusement park

ROLLER COASTERS!!! I love them!!

My first car

1996 Nissan Sentra

Favorite time of day

Right before bed time. The time when I get to relax and unwind a bit.

My favorite thing at home

My peeps and my labradoodle Max

Things I value most in life

Respect, Integrity, Humor, Authenticity

Will Frecker
Projects Coordinator and Soderquist Fellow

Will serves as a Project Coordinator at Milestone Leadership, working in the delivery of programs full time. In April 2018, Will graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with his BA in Management and Marketing. As a part of the Soderquist Fellowship program, he is pursuing his MBA. In his undergraduate years at Indiana Wesleyan University, Will spent two years working at the Recreation and Wellness Center as a personal trainer and as head student manager of the facility.

Will has a passion for learning and training and is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the team at Milestone Leadership. Will enjoys spending his free time mountain biking, hiking, working out, and playing cards with family and friends. Coming from Indiana, Will is looking for three other people who know how to play euchre.

My first car was

Honda Civic Si. I wanted something sporty, reliable, and most important, manual


Gym in the morning. Favorite way to start my day.


John Mayer


Barista at Starbucks

Things I value most in life

Accountability, Human Connection, Health, Affirmation, Faith

Shayna Gallacher
Projects Coordinator and Soderquist Fellow

Shayna is a Project Coordinator at Milestone Leadership, working on the delivery team. In May of 2018, Shayna graduated from New Mexico State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business with minors in Business Administration, Marketing, Finance, and Economics.

She is currently working towards an MBA with a concentration in International Business. During her undergraduate time at New Mexico State University, Shayna served in numerous leadership roles in student government, FFA, and Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity. Growing up on her family’s cattle ranch in central New Mexico, Shayna has a deep passion for production agriculture. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and being outdoors.






Treat others the way you want to be treated


Working on my family’s cattle ranch

Things I value most in life

Integrity, Excellence, Family, Respect, Faith

Myriah Yam
Projects Coordinator and Soderquist Fellow

Myriah is as a Project Coordinator at Milestone Leadership and is responsible for aiding in program delivery. She also serves as the co-advisor for Enactus at John Brown University; a project-based club focused on social entrepreneurship.

In May 2018, Myriah graduated from John Brown University with degrees in Marketing and Graphic Design. She is now pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in Design Thinking and Innovation. Originally from northern California, Myriah enjoys exploring the outdoors, participating in athletics, experimenting in the kitchen, and creating art.


Cotton candy


My mom, dad, and brother


‘91 Ford Explorer (nickname: the Ford Explorer… it caught fire at least once)

My favorite thing at home

A bag of California mandarins and a cup of Sweet Dreams tea

Things I value most in life

Respect, Challenge, Variety, Integrity, Excellence, Fun

Micayla Christensen
Projects Coordinator and Soderquist Fellow

Micayla is a Project Coordinator at Milestone Leadership, assisting in the delivery of programs. In April of 2018, Micayla graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a BA in Management and Marketing. As part of the Soderquist Fellowship, she is now pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Design Thinking and Innovation.

Micayla has a passion for working with and learning from others and is excited to be part of the Milestone team. Being in Northwest Arkansas, Micayla is anxious to experience the Ozarks. She enjoys traveling to new places, exploring the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

The historical figure I most admire is

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What a woman!

Podcast recommendation

Crime Junkies

If I've learned one thing it is

Low Expectations. High Standards.

My favorite thing at home

My pups – Cali and Mitzi

Things I value most in life

Integrity, Perseverance, Relationships, Exploration, Diversity

Jon Schultz
Projects Coordinator and Soderquist Fellow

Jon is a Project coordinator at Milestone Leadership and is responsible for assisting in program delivery. He graduated from John Brown University in May 2019 with a BA  in Public Relations, and is now pursuing an M.S. in Design Thinking and Innovation. During his undergrad years, Jon spent most of his summers overseas working at sport camps and studying abroad in places like Northern Ireland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

Jon is passionate about leadership and seeing companies and people improve their leadership abilities to better their own lives and the lives of others. He enjoys watching movies with his friends, family, and his wife, Jess. Jon grew up playing a variety of sports and is always looking for the opportunity to enjoy healthy competition and winning.

Best advice I ever received

(From my dad) “Always seek wise council.”

The three people at my dream dinner table would be

My wife, my younger brother, and Jerry Seinfeld

My first job was

Server and dishwasher in the kitchen at New Life Ranch

If I’ve learned one thing it is

I have a lot to learn…

Things I value most in life

Faith, Family, Transparency, and Humility


Milestone Leadership’s facilitators and executive coaches use multiple interactions with the group and individuals to create an environment to deepen understanding of partnership, trust, vision that inspires confidence and a deepening connection among followers.

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Paula Ihms

Paula Ihms founded Inspiring Leadership in 2016 to provide thoughtful leadership, design and execution of key pipeline initiatives to ensure individuals and organizations are well-prepared to accomplish current and future strategic objectives. She has partnered with Fortune 500 executives, new managers, pastors and college students helping to build effective teams and rewarding careers. Paula is a certified consultant of Covey, Birkman International, Myers-Briggs, and Achieve Global. She earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Communication and teaches at the University of Arkansas.

Paula enjoys coaching students to deliver more effective public presentations as an adjunct instructor at the University of Arkansas.

After eight moves in 22 years, Paula returned to her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas to enjoy the pleasure of family, life-long friends and the beauty of the Ozark Mountains.

My favorite place is

The shore of the Buffalo River in Gilbert, Arkansas

One of my favorite things to do is

Cook for those I love, especially my husband Keith and our grown children and family when they visit

Best advice I ever received

When I became a mother 28 years ago, a co-worker and friend told me, “Try to remember the days are long but the years are short.” No other parenting advice proved as true.

One of my favorite books is

Stephen M. R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust – because trust is foundational for leadership and successful relationships

Lori Brown
Executive in Residence

Lori is a seasoned executive with a history of successfully leading consumer goods organizations to achieve significant growth and market presence. She has been effective in developing long-term strategies with customer partners that achieved breakthrough results. Lori is known for building high-performance teams and has a heart for community service and leadership development. Lori enjoyed a 26-year career with large CPG companies and spent over 20 years leading business development initiatives with large customers, including Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Her career has featured progressive growth in responsibility and challenge at both Sara Lee and Kimberly-Clark. Lori is currently an Executive in Residence with Milestone Leadership where she facilitates a cohort-based Leadership Circle for Suppliers. In this program, she leads key industry talent in developing the skills necessary to deliver business results and helps build leaders worth following. Additionally, Lori serves as an executive coach to rising business leaders. Lori is married to Mike Brown and is the mother of their two sons, Mason and Marcus.

My favorite thing at home is

Spending quality time with my family and discussing the best parts of our day with everyone around the dinner table.

My first job was

Making milkshakes at our small-town Dairy Bar

Favorite time of day

I love the early mornings. My favorite would be to watch the sun rise over the ocean while sitting on the beach. Every day is a new opportunity to refresh and reboot, to be better than you were yesterday.

Best advice I ever received

From my dad….if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well

Things I value most in life

Faith, Family, Health, Team Spirit, Excellence and Encouragement

Chuck Hyde

Chuck Hyde is a trusted advisor to CEOs, key executives and emerging leaders. He has a track record of building teams, acquiring and maximizing talent, and delivering results. In addition to his Associate role with Milestone Leadership, Chuck currently chairs private peer advisory boards for executives through Vistage Worldwide, Inc. Prior to this, Chuck spent 12 years at Milestone Leadership, his last 8 as CEO. He also spent 12 years with Kimberly-Clark Corporation in various product supply roles in both manufacturing facilities and assignments at the corporate office including operations, operations support functions and leading strategic projects. Chuck earned his MBA from John Brown University in 2008 and his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1992. Chuck and his wife, Brian, have two sons, Charley and Jonathan.

Favorite thing at an amusement park

The exit

Favorite leadership book

Mulitpliers by Liz Wiseman

The historical figure I most admire is

Abraham Lincoln

The App I cannot live without


Things I value most in life

Faith, Family, Contribution, Authenticity, Growth, Focus

Dustin Pruitt

Dustin (Dusty) Pruitt spends his time pursuing his passion for building strong, effective entrepreneurial organizations.  In addition to serving as an Associate at Milestone Leadership, Dusty serves as a Professional EOS Implementer, teaching and implementing a holistic management operating system for entrepreneurial organizations.  Dusty’s career began in the CPG industry, working at Nestlé for almost a decade and holding several Director and Team Leader roles across the disciplines of sales, category management and finance.  Dusty left Nestlé to follow his entrepreneurial passion.  Dusty has served in CEO/COO roles, both in full-time and fractional capacities for small and medium-sized organization ($5-$15MM in revenue), helping to grow, transition and scale the businesses.

Dusty is a teacher and coach at heart and finds his fulfillment in helping other people get what they want out of their businesses and careers.  Dusty earned his B.S.B.A and M.B.A. from John Brown University and was awarded the Soderquist Fellowship in 2006.  Dusty lives with his wife Angela and their two children Arden (7) and Beck (4) in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Favorite thing at an amusement park

The rollercoasters…always

Favorite movie

Top Gun

If I've learned one thing it is

Do one thing really, really well

My first job was

Paper boy in 2nd grade

Things I value most in life

Humble Ambition – Serving Well – New Ideas – Excellence for Its Own Sake

Dr. Carla Swearingen

Dr. Carla Swearingen serves as the Dean of Faculty Development, Director of the Office for Advancement of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship, and Professor of Chemistry at John Brown University.  In these roles, she supports the professional growth and development of faculty, as well as supervising staff, maintaining multiple budgets, and leading strategic planning.  Carla holds a Certificate in Evidence-Based Coaching from Fielding Graduate University, a program accredited by the International Coach Federation.  She has a passion for seeing individuals reach their full potential and has experience coaching at universities, corporations, and government agencies such as Amazon, NASA, Mars, and the University of Arkansas.  She is trained in the Birkman Method, CCL’s Benchmarks 360, and Immunity to Change.  In addition, Carla earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Loyola University Chicago and a B.A. in Psychology from Hendrix College.

Best advice I ever received

You’ll never know until you ask.

My last meal would be

Nachos! I’ll eat just about anything if you put it on tortilla chips and smother it in cheese.

My first job was

Pizza Hut waitress.  My parents would come in, order the salad bar, and leave me a $20 tip.

First concert I attended

M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice

Things I value most in life

Relationships, Compassion, Humility, Listening, Learning

Kelly Syer
Marketing Associate

Kelly has enjoyed a diverse career in dynamic leadership roles spanning the corporate, nonprofit and higher education sectors. She spent nearly a decade at her alma mater, University of Arkansas, working in career services, admissions, public relations and alumni affairs. Moving then to the corporate world, Kelly focused in the areas of marketing, public relations and public affairs at Tyson Foods and Cox Communications, where she discovered and actively pursued a passion for community engagement and corporate philanthropy.

Returning to the nonprofit sector, Kelly served as director of development for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, then as executive director of the Downtown Springdale Alliance to lead efforts in community revitalization. In addition to working as an associate for Milestone, she also owns and operates a digital marketing business, Socialliance. Kelly is married to Scott Syer and has one adult daughter, Haley Zega.

My last meal would be

My husband’s seafood pizza (it weighs about 10 pounds and you’re doing well to eat more than one slice!)

If I've learned one thing

I’m stronger and braver than I know at the time

The historical figure I most admire is

Harriet Tubman

Best advice I ever received

Every child is on his or her own path, so don’t measure capabilities or potential for success by society’s yardstick. Embrace their uniqueness and celebrate it; they will find their way if they know without question that who they are as a person is valued and loved.

Things I value most in life

Respect and assumption of positive intent—as well as loyalty, honesty, compassion and a sense of humor

Tom Verdery

Tom Verdery serves as Associate Facilitator and Executive Coach for Milestone Leadership and is currently Professor Emeritus in the College of Business at John Brown University. Tom has over 34 years of experience working with Procter & Gamble, of which the last 14 years spent at the senior leadership level working exclusively outside the US. Tom came to Northwest Arkansas in 1989 when P&G asked him to be part of their first multi-functional supplier team with Wal-Mart.

After retirement from P&G, he was Executive in Residence at Soderquist Leadership and Professor in Business, specializing in Leadership & Ethics until his retirement in July 2018. Tom’s key areas of expertise include Strategic Planning and Executive Coaching, where he holds several coaching certifications from CCL and leadership training certifications from DLI & Ken Blanchard Companies. Tom holds an MBA from The University of Dallas and a BBA from Texas Tech University. Tom enjoys spending his free time traveling with his wife and children, along with fishing both locally and across the US.

Best advice I ever received

Character trumps Competence, and true Success is measured by the impact you make on others, not by personal fame & fortune.

Things I value most in life

Character, Integrity, Servant Leadership, Humility, and Positive Attitude

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