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.
Pork Chops and Spaghetti (family recipe passed down for generations)
Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History
Legacy is not what people will say about you when you are gone, it is what people will do because of you.
Community, Loyalty, Healthy Relationships, Generosity and Small Delights
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.
Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Then a big, rich slice of chocolate cake. Probably the whole cake!
1968 Mustang. It was loud, with a jacked up back end and wide back tires. I loved that car!
You can have it all, just not all at the same time.
Faith, Family, Excellence, Enthusiasm, Compassion
Most recently, Erik worked as an executive leader in the non-profit world. Prior to his work in non-profits, Erik spent 18 years with Wal-Mart Stores inc.’s Logistics division. While working at Wal-Mart, Erik worked in warehouse operations and eventually specialized in leadership development roles. These roles included curriculum development and delivery, custom facilitation programs, senior leadership development, multi media management, experiential learning and virtual broadcasting. Erik is certified in The Birkman Method and CCL’s Benchmarks 360 degree feedback tools. Erik also holds a BA in Theology, a Master’s in Transformational Leadership and is currently completing his PhD in Organizational Leadership.
Live a life grounded in the right identity
Early mornings when all is quiet
The world’s best yellow curry!
Commitment, Play, Wholeness, Present
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.
A Farewell to Arms
Just do the next right thing
Relationship, Truth, Action, Growth, Joy
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.
ROLLER COASTERS!!! I love them!!
1996 Nissan Sentra
Right before bed time. The time when I get to relax and unwind a bit.
My peeps and my labradoodle Max
Respect, Integrity, Humor, Authenticity
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 Market Research and Consumer Insights.
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.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What a woman!
Low Expectations. High Standards.
My pups – Cali and Mitzi
Integrity, Perseverance, Relationships, Exploration, Diversity
Joseph is a Project Coordinator at Milestone Leadership and is responsible for assisting in program delivery. Graduating with a BA in Marketing from Kansas State University in December of 2019, he is now pursuing an M.B.A in Design Thinking and Innovation at John Brown University.
Joseph is passionate about people and seeing growth in the lives of others. As a creatively driven person, he can be found reading, writing, editing videos, or finding new ways to make his friends laugh. He especially enjoys competitive sports, hiking, and going on adventures with his fiancée, Ellie.
I worked at a Law Firm 😊!
As a janitor 😕.
2000 Pontiac Sunfire. My friends named it the Barbie Car because of its design.
Evening! All the hustle and bustle of the day is done, and you can relax and spend time with those you love.
Strong relationships are just as important as food or water. Without them, we begin to waste away.
Steadfastness, Positivity, Creativity, and Teamwork.
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.
(From my dad) “Always seek wise council.”
My wife, my younger brother, and Jerry Seinfeld
Server and dishwasher in the kitchen at New Life Ranch
I have a lot to learn…
Faith, Family, Transparency, and Humility
Jolana received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Sciences, with an emphasis in Sociology and a minor in English in 2005. In 2007, she received her master’s degree in Community Development, both from Delta State University in Cleveland, MS. She was later inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame for her academics and student involvement.
Her professional career started in 2007 as Assistant Director of Delta State’s Bologna Performing Arts Center where she was listed among the 30 under 30 in the MS Delta by the Delta Business Journal. She moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2008 where she worked as a PR professional for the Walton Arts Center. She later worked at several nonprofit organizations as a Fundraising professional raising millions through grant writing, event planning, and individual giving campaigns.
Jolana has also volunteered for various organizations to help combat child abuse and domestic violence, two of her great passions. Additionally, she has served as a foster and adoptive parent of her two adult sons, Anthony & Andrew.
In June 2019, Jolana started Peak Potential LLC which focuses on transforming lives from burnout to breakthrough. She encourages her clients to gain better life balance by offering inspirational messages, enhanced organizational skills, opportunities for fellowship, and a place for restoration. She is also a life and executive coach and publishes an uplifting and encouraging magazine, FAVOR! Jolana and her husband, Adam, enjoy the outdoors together with their four rescue dogs.
Imitation of Life (1959). I watched this movie as a young teenager. It taught me early on about the importance of loving and accepting who you are before it’s too late.
Never miss an opportunity to encourage someone with a smile.
“Learn all the parts if you fully want to understand your role.” – My Father, Joe L. Gibbs (retired Army)
Working as a research assistant at USDA. As a teenager, I spent two summers researching termites. Who would have thought??
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.
The shore of the Buffalo River in Gilbert, Arkansas
Cook for those I love, especially my husband Keith and our grown children and family when they visit
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.
Stephen M. R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust – because trust is foundational for leadership and successful relationships
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.
Spending quality time with my family and discussing the best parts of our day with everyone around the dinner table.
Making milkshakes at our small-town Dairy Bar
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.
From my dad….if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well
Faith, Family, Health, Team Spirit, Excellence and Encouragement
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.
Mulitpliers by Liz Wiseman
Faith, Family, Contribution, Authenticity, Growth, Focus
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.
Do one thing really, really well
Paper boy in 2nd grade
Humble Ambition – Serving Well – New Ideas – Excellence for Its Own Sake
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.
You’ll never know until you ask.
Nachos! I’ll eat just about anything if you put it on tortilla chips and smother it in cheese.
Pizza Hut waitress. My parents would come in, order the salad bar, and leave me a $20 tip.
M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice
Relationships, Compassion, Humility, Listening, Learning
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 is director of marketing for Butterfield Trail Village, as well as owns and operates a digital marketing business, Socialliance. Kelly is married to Scott Syer and has one adult daughter, Haley Zega.
My husband’s seafood pizza (it weighs about 10 pounds and you’re doing well to eat more than one slice!)
I’m stronger and braver than I know at the time
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.
Respect and assumption of positive intent—as well as loyalty, honesty, compassion and a sense of humor
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.
Character trumps Competence, and true Success is measured by the impact you make on others, not by personal fame & fortune.
Character, Integrity, Servant Leadership, Humility, and Positive Attitude