Forward Arkansas Announces Appointment of Three New Board Members

We recently announced the appointment of three new members to our board of directors - Mary Elizabeth Eldridge, Deborah Frazier and Anna Strong. With these appointments, our board now includes 10 active members.

As a trustee and the director of programs at the Ross Foundation in Arkadelphia, Mary Elizabeth Eldridge oversees grant distributions to support public education in Clark County, including a focus on pre-K education in the Arkadelphia School District and the Arkadelphia Promise. She serves on the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation, where she has served as the grants committee chair, the Nature Conservancy of Arkansas and the Arkansas Forestry Association. She is a past commissioner of the Arkansas Forestry Commission and a former board member of the Arkansas Community Foundation and Baptist Health Foundation.

Before joining the Ross Foundation, Eldridge worked as an associate at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in the transactional and corporate law division. She earned her law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, where she served on the Arkansas Law Review editorial board. She earned a bachelor’s degree in European history with a concentration in environmental studies from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.

Deborah Frazier recently retired from a more than thirty-year career in Arkansas higher education, during which she served as chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, where career and technical education was foundational to the region’s workforce.

She provided leadership as co-chair of IMPACT Independence County to increase opportunities to improve the region’s economic prosperity leading to sustainable family wages. The process fostered a five-year strategic plan that led to many improvements within the area. Frazier readily joined community leaders and champions for education to volunteer her time and energy in advocating to provide Arkansas high school students access to the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, an accomplishment that changed secondary education in Arkansas for generations to come.

As the first female to serve as a member of the consolidated Midland Public School District, Frazier learned the importance of collaboration and compromise. She utilized these same skills while serving within a variety of organizations.

Frazier earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Lyon College in Batesville, and a master’s in business education from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

With community service as a chief priority throughout her career, Frazier has been recognized by multiple organizations for her commitment to public service, leadership and dedication to excellence in education. As a first-generation college graduate, she recognizes the power education has to enhance individuals’ life, which is why she has invested her career in ensuring Arkansans have the educational opportunities they deserve.

Anna Strong is the executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ARAAP), the state’s membership organization for pediatricians. In this role, she leads policy and advocacy initiatives and engages members in statewide programs that promote child health and health care quality.

Before joining ARAAP, she served as executive director of child advocacy and public health at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where she led clinical and community health outreach initiatives reaching all 75 counties, and convened the Natural Wonders Partnership Council, a coalition focused on improving child health. Other past roles include director of health care policy at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, where she led Medicaid-related policy work and contributed to Arkansas’s successful effort to extend Medicaid to low-income adults and establish its health insurance marketplace. She was also a decision support analyst at Acxiom.

She serves on the board of directors of the School-Based Health Alliance and Harmony Health Clinic. Anna is a graduate of the dual Public Service and Public Health Masters programs at the Clinton School of Public Service and the UAMS College of Public Health. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hendrix College in Conway.

The complete slate of board members for FY23 includes: