The 2019 Meet the Funders panel will have representatives from Arkansas Arts Council, Walmart Foundation, United Way, Arkansas Humanities Council, The Nadine Baum Trust, and Bentonville Soup. The panel will answer questions from the audience, communicate to potential grantees what information is important to them as a funding organization, and discuss some best practices and common mistakes of submitting grant proposals.

There are a few new faces on the panel this year to make the event a really well-rounded learning experience about how foundations serve a community. 

Coffee will be available in the library lobby starting at 8:30 a.m.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required and begins May 8.

2019 Meet the Funders Panelist Bios

Jess Anthony | Grants Programs Manager | Arkansas Arts Council

Jess Anthony has worked for the Arkansas Arts Council staff since 1995 as a Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) Program Coordinator. As Grant Programs Manager, he runs the General Operating Support and Collaborative Project Support grant programs, creates the Arts Council’s online grant guidelines each year, helps plan the biannual state arts conference, and oversees the state’s touring roster program for performers and visual artists, helping to select new members for the roster and maintaining the online roster itself. His work with Arkansas presenters and Arts on Tour artists extends regionally as state representative for performance issues with the regional arts funding organization the Mid-America Arts Alliance. In the past, Jess has served as an out-of-state review panelist for the Nebraska Arts Council, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance. On a national level, he has co-chaired sessions for the Presenting and Touring peer group at two National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) conferences.  The Arkansas Arts Council advances the arts in Arkansas each year by providing over $1.6 million in grants-in-aid to Arkansas arts organizations and other providers of cultural and educational programs. The agency also provides technical and financial assistance to support and encourage arts endeavors assisting literary, performing and visual artists in achieving standards of professional excellence.

The Arkansas Arts Council recommends that applicants speak with the appropriate grant program manager before submitting any applications.


Jama Best | Executive Director | Arkansas Humanities Council

Jama Best is executive director of the Arkansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities whose mission is to promote the understanding and use of the humanities in Arkansas. Best assumes the role after 15 years with the Council. Her decades of experience in non-profit leadership and museum management include leading popular and successful grant initiatives for the Council, including the REACH (Raising Education Achievement and Competence in the Humanities) Grant, the Helen T. Leigh Museum Field Trip Grant, Arkansas State Park Field Trip Grant, and the Operating Grant for Small Museums. She spearheaded bringing engaging museum exhibitions to the state through the Smithsonian Institution Museums on Main Street and Hometown Teams programs. A recognized expert on grant writing, Best has been invited to speak on this and other subjects to students and professionals around the state. She has served regionally as president of the Arkansas Museums Association and nationally as a member of the Federation Data and Evaluation Committee (Previously, the Data Task Force). Prior to joining the Council, Best held roles as an education specialist with the Old State House Museum and as a park interpreter, superintendent, and planner with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With experience in education, interpretation, historic preservation and conservation, community development, grant making, programming, Best is a passionate promoter of the humanities in Arkansas and is committed to expanding opportunities for you in the state to explore the humanities.

The initial approach for funding inquiries is a letter, phone call, or email.


Roger Bryles | Vice President and Trust Officer | Arvest Wealth Management

Roger Bryles is a Vice President & Trust Officer with Arvest Wealth Management.  He has been in this position for 10 years, working mainly with individual clients, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, and other entities.  Arvest Wealth Management handles client assets through various products and services, including investments, retirement planning, estate planning, trust administration, and insurance.


Erin Turner Hogue, Director | Strategic Initiatives and Operations | Walmart Foundation

Erin Hogue leads operations and strategic initiatives at Walmart Foundation. As part of this work, Erin works to align and leverage corporate and philanthropic efforts supporting the needs of the community through strategic planning and responsible grant making across all sectors. In addition, Erin provides strategic leadership and management capacity to foundation-wide structures and processes, including causing marketing campaigns for Walmart, overseeing the Associates in Critical Need Trust (ACNT), managing customer service functions of the foundation such as annual planning, grants management and operations, and external relations. Erin joined the Walmart Foundation in June 2016 and brings 14 years of grant making, fundraising and strategic planning experience to the position. Prior to joining Walmart, Erin served as the Vice President of Development at Walton Arts Center where she was responsible for managing and advancing a comprehensive development strategy to support all the center’s facilities and programs. She has a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, master’s degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Arkansas.

Funding guidelines are as follows:

Northwest Arkansas Giving

Northwest Arkansas investments are focused around growing long-term capacity and capabilities of the region by: 1) Providing greater access to Hunger Relief and Healthy Eating services; and 2) Enhancing the Quality of Life in Northwest Arkansas, with a specific on focus on inclusion and access for low income residents. To help achieve this vision, we support programs that provide access to arts and recreation programs to increase the quality of life in the region. While there may be some support for subsidized admission or programming, proposals that are sustainable long-term, support collaboration across organizations or drive system innovation are prioritized. Event sponsorship requests for Walmart and Sam’s Club are included in the Quality of Life category. Please note the vast majority of support in this focus area is programmatic and we are limited in the number of events we are able to sponsor each year.  Learn more on our Northwest Arkansas Giving website.

Community Giving Program

Each year, U.S. stores and clubs award local cash grants of $250 to $5,000 at their discretion.  Eligible nonprofit organizations must operate within the service area of the facility from which they are requesting funding. The 2018 grant cycle begins Feb. 1, 2018 and the application deadline to apply is Dec. 31, 2018. To learn more, check out our Community Giving Program Guidelines & FAQs.

Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) Program

The VAP program enables U.S. associates to raise money for any eligible charity. Once associates, as individuals or as a group volunteer, at least 25 hours at an eligible organization, the associate applies for a VAP grant on behalf of the organization.


Melody Timinsky | Vice President, Community Impact |United Way

Melody is a strategic leader with over 30 years of diversified operations experience driving innovative and comprehensive performance in both corporate and nonprofit environments. Prior to finding her way back to Arkansas, she served as CEO of Volunteers of America Texas and Chief Operating Officer of Big Thought. Melody’s corporate experience includes leading multi-disciplinary teams in the transportation, consumer package goods and high tech industries.  Melody has channeled her passion for the education and welfare of women and children through her leadership on several nonprofit boards, including the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation Board.

Melody has a BS in Theoretical Math from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and an MBA from the University of Dallas. She has complete course work on a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Jessie Wagner | Director of Events & Engagement | Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

Jessie Wagner moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2012 after obtaining her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Management degrees at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Jessie has a passion for discovery which has led to her spending a summer on a Byzantine archaeological excavation in Sicily and two years working for the National Park Service in the remote New Mexican high desert. Jessie was drawn into non-profit & economic development after discovering a knack for writing grants and a deep fascination with creating and sustaining community partnerships. Jessie has worked for Crystal Bridges, NWA Children’s Shelter and Brightwater/NWA Community College. She is proud to be a founding member of Bentonville SOUP. Jessie also teaches yoga and spends the vast majority of her free time attempting to maintain her urban farm in downtown Bentonville.

Bentonville SOUP is a micro-granting dinner series celebrating and supporting creative projects in and around Bentonville. SOUP is an open-source project begun in Detroit, and adapted for Bentonville, AR, to help spark positive change in our community and empower and encourage citizens to pursue their own creative initiatives. At each dinner, attendees receive a plate of food, a drink, and a vote. Food is supplied by area businesses and attendees alike in a collaborative, potluck style. Four presenters share their project ideas on topics ranging from art and education to social justice and tactical urbanism. The evening culminates with attendees voting on their project-of-choice and the winner of the vote is granted all of the money raised by participants that evening. Winners return to future SOUP dinners to report on their project’s progress.