A Message from Arkansas Leaders

By Arkansas Next on Thursday, March 31, 2022

The AFEC was established by Act 1025 of 2021. Their mission is to help Arkansans achieve financial well-being through education and networking, for present and future generations. Led by State Treasurer Dennis Milligan, members of the commission include a mixture of government and community appointees with financial backgrounds. We appreciate their support of this edition. And with their level of expertise, we just had to ask them to share their go-to financial advice.

Dennis Milligan
Treasurer of State

Background: "I was elected to the Office of Treasurer of State in 2014 and reelected in 2018. As treasurer, I serve as the state’s banker and I'm responsible for an investment portfolio of approximately $5 billion. I also oversee the Arkansas 529 Education Savings Plan and the Arkansas ABLE Plan."

Money mindset: “Make your money work for you, rather than YOU work for IT.”

Biggest money mistake you made and how it shaped you? “Not saving enough money. You can never save enough.”

Eric Munson
Former Commissioner, Arkansas Securities Department

Background: "I was appointed the 17th Commissioner of the Arkansas Securities Department in 2020. I have more than 30 years of business, government, regulation and public policy experience."

Money mindset: "Save, research, invest."

If you could tell students one thing... "Create a financial plan, make a budget and start saving and investing."

Susannah Marshall
Commissioner, Arkansas State Bank Department

Background: "I was appointed the 22nd Commissioner of the State Bank Department in 2020. I began my career in the Arkansas State Bank Department in 1995."

Money mindset: "Live for today, but plan for tomorrow."

Best money you ever spent? “Any vacation or trip – work hard, play hard!”

Johnny Key
Arkansas Department of Education; Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education

Background: "I was appointed the Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education by Governor Asa Hutchinson in 2015. Prior to serving as commissioner, I served in the Arkansas State Senate from 2009-14."

Money mindset: "Control your money; don’t let you money control you."

Who is your financial role model? "Dave Ramsey."

Steve Brown
President and CEO, Alcoa Community Federal Credit Union

Background: "I've served as CEO of Alcoa since 2014. My background includes 15 years as an executive at Acxiom and more than 10 years in banking."

Money mindset: "Plan. Research. Save."

Biggest money mistake you made and how it shaped you? “Relying on credit cards too much... Harsh lessons learned have caused me to be much more prudent in planning and spending.”

Abby Holsclaw
President and CEO, Proper Southern Strategies

Background: "I am a consultant in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. I serve as a senior director for the Asset Funders Network where I direct the Arkansas Asset Funders Network, offering thought-leadership and assistance in engaging Southern funders."

Money mindset: "Money makes money."

If you could tell students one thing… “Know your worth when negotiating for a salary— do not underestimate your skills and talents.”

Duncan Bellingrath
Designee for Arkansas Bankers Association; Community Banker, Simmons Bank

Background: "I joined Simmons Bank in 2017. I serve commercial customers throughout southeast and central Arkansas."

Money mindset: "Save, save, save."

If you could tell students one thing… "You can be and do anything you want, but it all begins with your work ethic!"

Patricia Ashanti
Founder and CEO, Delta Circles

Background: "In 2009, I founded Delta Circles, a nonprofit organization based in Helena. Delta Circles’ mission is to support families to end poverty and challenge the way that Black women think about themselves, their finances, and their businesses."

Money mindset: “A part of all you earn is yours to keep.” –George S. Clason

Who is your financial role model? “I do not have a specific financial role model, yet, I learned from my mother the importance of taking care of one’s basic needs and the desire to have something extra to help others.”

Marsha Masters
Associate Director, Economics Arkansas

Background: "I serve as associate director at Economics Arkansas, a nonprofit education organization serving pre-K through 12th grade educators in the state. I have more than 20 years of teaching experience, which I use to promote economics and financial literacy throughout the state."

Money mindset: “I'm the proverbial ant. I'm a saver. I believe it's important to spend less than you earn.”

Best money you ever spent? “Investing in my education. It allowed me opportunities toward my passions and career goals.”