Building Careers and Sustaining Workforce in Northwest Arkansas

Dialogue Session IV of the EDGE project, developed by key organizations within Northwest Arkansas and by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s IC² Institute, will focus on understanding the challenges and opportunities around building the necessary workforce to support an entrepreneurial ecosystem. This session and the EDGE project are supported by the Walton Family Foundation.

Building Careers and Sustaining Workforce in Northwest Arkansas

Goals and Objectives for the Workforce Dialogue Session:

  • Understanding key elements shaping the current and near-term NWA workforce
  • Communicating the goals and expectations of regional graduates related to work, career development, and quality of life
  • Exploring best practices related to regional workforce development
  • Developing a collaborative strategy for workforce supply and company demand

Date: Friday, January 25, 2019

Location: Northwest Arkansas Community College

(Walmart Auditorium, Shewmaker Center for Workforce Development, Main Campus, 1000 S.E. Eagle Way, Bentonville. Parking details to follow later.)

To attend, please RSVP before January 23rd to Margaret Cotrofeld at

RSVP now

Planned Agenda

8:30 AM: Welcome, Evelyn Jorgenson (NWACC) and Greg Pogue (IC² Institute)

8:40 AM: Keynote: “Effective Partnerships and the Current and Future Labor Force Structure of Northwest Arkansas,” Mike Harvey, NWA Council

9:10 AM: Student Focus Group Summary Presentation.
NWACC and UA students summarize students’ perspectives from Thursday’s Student Focus Groups; Discussion of implications for work, career development, and quality of life from students’ perspectives. (Greg Pogue, moderator)

10:15 AM: Keynote: “Best Practices for Encouraging Higher Education Graduates to Launch Their Careers in Your Region,” Dr. Deborah Diamond, Campus Philly

11:00 AM: Panel, “Moving Forward: Fitting Workforce Need and Supply”

Industry Perspectives

  • Eric Airola, Sr. Director, Human Resources, J.B. Hunt
  • Michael Paladino, Co-Founder, RevUnit
  • Ryan Penner, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Tyson Foods
  • Zoe Barton, Senior Campus Recruiter, Walmart

Workforce and Talent Perspectives

  • Brian Henderson, Director of Student Placement and Employer Relations, College of Engineering, UA
  • Tara Dryer, Director of Training, Corporate Development and Academic Outreach, UA Global Campus
  • Anne O’Leary-Kelly, Sr. Associate Dean, Walton College of Business, UA
  • TBD—Northwest Arkansas Community College

12:00 PM: Summary of Key Points and Specific Actions

12:15 PM: Finish (no lunch planned)

Keynote Presenters

Mike HarveyMichael E. Harvey
Chief Operating Officer, Northwest Arkansas Council

Mike Harvey is a professionally trained economic developer with 23 years of experience at the local and regional level. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 1991, and a Master’s Degree in Economic Development in 1995. Throughout his career, Mike has successfully built one-stop operations that deliver site selection assistance, existing business services, entrepreneurial support, and workforce development solutions to job seekers and employers alike. He has accomplished this with multiple organizations in four different states.

Deborah DiamondDeborah Diamond, Ph.D.
President, Campus Philly

Deborah joined Campus Philly in 2010 as president. She began her career as a college professor, teaching political philosophy at Columbia University and Bryn Mawr College. But after falling in love with Philadelphia as a place to live, she shifted focus, launching a career in market research and joining Visit Philadelphia as its first director of research and strategy. Deborah holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She serves as the chair of the board of the Jewish Grad Network of Greater Philadelphia and as a volunteer for the Fund for Bryn Mawr College. For more information about Campus Philly, please see: