The Institute is extremely proud that Program Officer Samantha Evans was honored with the Arkansas Community Development Society’s New Professional Award. Samantha has been actively involved in community development, especially in Arkansas, for most of her professional years.
This past Friday, two representatives from the Society - including Whitney Horton, pictured above on the left with Sam on the right - came to the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute to surprise Sam with the award. Sam was very touched, as you can see on our Facebook page.
Sam comes from five years at Main Street Arkansas serving as its assistant director. In this position, she worked with numerous small- and medium-sized communities throughout the state of Arkansas where she worked to help interested citizens revitalize their downtown.
Sam served both on the board and as peer-elected chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals of Little Rock. Under her leadership as the board chair, Little Rock was selected to host the annual Young Nonprofit Professional National Conference. It was a very successful event highlighting Change Through Head, Heart and Hands. The Change Through Head, Heart and Hands was a national nonprofit leadership conference that in August 2015 brought 150 young, emerging leaders from throughout the nation to Little Rock. Sam played a strong role in promoting central Arkansas tourism for attendees, further deepening the investment and experience attendees had while expanding the event’s economic impact.
She created the monthly speaker series “Coffee with an Expert,” which brings executive directors across various sectors together to speak with YNPN members. She also developed a fundraising plan to increase membership and sponsorship for the local organization.
Before working for Main Street Arkansas, Sam was the planning technician for the city of North Little Rock for two years. Originally from Perry County, Sam, now of Conway, worked with her home community to help save the Rosenwald School in Bigelow, once listed as one of Arkansas’ Most Endangered Places. She’s written articles on a variety of issues concerning community development and planning including this one.
Sam holds a Professional Community and Economic Developer Certification from the Community Development Council. She has a master’s degree from the Humphry School of Public Affairs in City/Urban Planning with an emphasis in Community and Regional Planning.
She was selected as a Krusell Community Development Fellow and MacArthur Fellow in 2007 as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. During her fellowships she worked with Model Cities CDC, a community-based development organization, and CommonBond, a large affordable housing development and management organization. Her placement experiences included: assisting with funding applications for tax credits; marketing research; data management and analysis; predevelopment planning and funding applications; assistance with façade improvement program; help with real estate closings.
Sam is a regular speaker at conferences and events, including for the Community Development Institute, the National Main Streets Conference and innumerable local community sessions.
She received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. In a nice Rockefeller connection, Spelman College, which was founded as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminar, later changed in honor of Laura Spelman, John D. Rockefeller’s wife, and her parents, who were longtime activists in the anti-slavery movement.
I had the privilege of working with Sam at a previous job, and I was thrilled when we got to be colleagues again here at the Institute. We’re very proud of her and look forward to seeing how her talent moves our programs forward in the future.