Outstanding Fundraising Professional
By Renarda A. Williams | Photography by Rett Peek | Hair by Haydon Howard with Face Your Day Salon | Makeup by Cassie Oaks with Face Your Day Salon | Wardrobe from Barbara Jean
As director of development for the Arkansas Arts Center, Kelly Fleming continues to exceed expectations. Fiscal accomplishments include surpassing annual goals of approximately $2 million in gifts each year of her tenure; meeting or exceeding additional special event goals, including the re-launch of the Beaux Arts Ball and the 25th celebration of Tabriz. She established the Townsend Wolfe Society, in honor of the legendary director and chief curator, which has an estimated $2 million in planned gifts. Her role at the Arts Center spans beyond generating continued support; Kelly is an integral part of the visionary team that completed its strategic plan, its reaccreditation, and its aggressive building project and capital campaign.
But that’s no surprise. More than 30 years ago, when Kelly arrived in the Capital City, she went to work for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Heifer International. At the former, she hired and worked alongside counsel during the successful $6 million capital campaign, which allowed for the facility’s renovation. At the latter, Kelly was part of the team that helped grow the endowment by 17 percent per year and surpass the $50 million mark.
As an Association of Fundraising Professionals member, Kelly recognizes the importance of civic leadership and volunteerism. She has conducted fundraising and leadership workshops for the Arkansas Arts Council, the Arkansas Museum Association and more. She and her husband Shannon, also a fundraiser, have pledged planned gifts to current employers, the Arts Center and UAMS. Kelly also has a 27-year-old daughter, Drew Elizabeth Ford, who is learning the power of philanthropy from her mother’s example.
“Be generous in spirit,” Kelly urges. “We are part of a bigger world. We have a responsibility to share our corner of it in a respectful way, with a generous spirit toward our fellow travelers.”
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