The honoree for 2012 is a Little Rock businesswoman who proved that women have earned their rightful spot in the business world.
"The whole impetus behind the movement started with her Top-100 Women in Arkansas publication that she did for five years. In response to an offhand comment that she overheard that there were no women qualified to serve on boards, it just flew all over me, honestly. I just thought, that is so not true!, says Lynette Watts, Executive Director of the Arkansas Women's Foundation.
Olivia Myers Farrell is the CEO of Arkansas Business Publishing Group, and co-founder of the Women's Foundation of Arkansas.
"Not long after that, Pat Lile, who was heading up the Arkansas Community Foundation called me up and said "I'd like to go to lunch, and I said "For sure, and we went to lunch and she said what would you think about forming a women's foundation in Arkansas? And I said "I'd love it!," Farrell recalls.
"I was looking for a way to promote women in philanthrophy and to empower them to see themselves as donors, that philanthrophy wasn't just something their husbands did and make the big gifts without ever consulting their wives," explains Pat Lile, former Executive Director of the Arkansas Community Foundation. "I had this pool of women who wanted to get involved and were ready, would be willing, to contribute a thousand dollars each, and so we came up with the idea that we would have a "launch luncheon" and we would call it "the power of the purse."
Through "Power of the Purse" and "Designing Women," 85 women contributed a thousand dollars each as founders. The foundation has given more than 200-thousand dollas to 79 programs helping women and girls reach their potential.
Farrell's corporate philosophy is also one of giving back.
"Y'know, she's been a visionary in publishing. She has created publications and products that make a difference in people's lives," says Jeff Hankins with the Arkansas Business Publishing Group. "Between our publications and our websites each year we contribute over 250-thousand dollars of in-kind advertising to various groups and that's through all kinds of publications and websites that we have."
"I would have to say that the Women's Foundation of Arkansas would not be here without Olivia," Watts says.
"Olivia is a passionate woman and you can't be around her without experiencing that energy," says Lile.
"There are so many incredibly competent women across the state, and it just sort of burned in the back of my mind that we needed to do something about that," Farrell recalls.
Olivia Myers Farrell will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award at the 35th Annual Community Service Awards show on July 20th.