Discovering the future of the 501

By Stefanie Brazile

The 501 LIFE team is excited to bring you an issue devoted to Visionaries and the future of the 501. In a special section beginning on page 22, those depicted on the cover share immediate and future goals on enhancing: infrastructure, job growth, the arts and degree plans. The youngest visionary interviewed is an eighthgrade hero who is committed to elevating other people.

Along with our Visionaries, I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know six women who were recently honored for excelling in business. They represent different segments of the economy, and each honoree reveals whose shoulders she stands upon and how she wants to continue a positive legacy.

One example is the connection between Crystal Kemp, who earned the Diamond Achievement Award, and Shaneil Ealy, Ed.D., who was named Outstanding Woman in Nonprofits. In 1995, Kemp helped to establish the Faulkner County Youth Leadership Institute, and Ealy was a graduate of the first class while in high school. Fast forward 25 years, and now Ealy oversees that program in her role as an associate vice president at UCA. Many years ago, Kemp invested in area youth, and she has seen that come full circle. Both ladies are passionate about developing leadership skills in the next generation.

So, how are visionary leaders made? Is it nature or nurture? That question sparked fierce debate in my Sociology 101 class many years ago. Wherever you land on the issue, I think you’ll agree that one common characteristic among them is optimism. They believe the future will be better because the projects they identified, and goals they’ve developed, will improve the quality of life of many.

We could all use a dose of optimism after the year we’ve endured. I hope your “glass is half full” this January as we look to local and national leaders to lead people to a better life. But being a visionary is not just for community leaders. It’s a lifelong process we each revisit at the start of a new year.

As you declare your 2021 resolutions, consider optimism for the list. If you are looking for someplace to start, I hope you’ll find inspiration in the Visionaries’ and Honorees’  stories.