Shannon Fleming

Generations of Generosity: Association of Fundraising Professionals Arkansas Chapter Honorees

By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Reeves

The Arkansas Special Olympics motto, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” inspired Shannon Fleming to pursue a career in higher education and development. During his 30-year tenure, he tripled the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s endowed scholarships and secured Philander Smith College’s first $1 million individual gift – just to name a few of his professional accomplishments. He now serves as senior director of development at Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and is being honored as Outstanding Fundraising Professional.

Volunteering for the Arkansas Special Olympics when he was just 15 years old, Shannon recognized the significance of fundraising. “That was the beginning of my commitment to support organizations whose vision, mission and impact are important to me. Unknowingly, I think it also led me down a path that would end with a career in fundraising.”

Shannon feels fortunate to have the opportunity to implement strategic philanthropic plans in a professional capacity, he says. “It’s an honor to work for an organization that is dedicated to providing life-changing health care and education to the next generation of healthcare professionals for Arkansas, the nation and the world. Some people want to help through supporting UAMS programs and others want to give as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for the quality care they or a loved one received. Either way, I’m given the privilege of building relationships with people to ultimately help them fulfill a personal need to help others through their gift to UAMS.”

Personally, Shannon and his wife, Kelly, support organizations that have helped them along the way. “The impact that these organizations have had on our lives is immeasurable and we choose to give back as a way to show our appreciation. We have supported the educational institutions we attended and where I worked – University of Arkansas at Monticello, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, UALR, Philander Smith College, University of Southern Mississippi, UAMS and the Clinton School of Public Service, to name a few – because each one was important in forming who we are both professionally and personally.”

Arts institutions also make their giving list including the Arkansas Arts Center (Kelly’s employer), Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre because of the impact and learning experiences each provides to “the young and young at heart.”

Inspiration for Shannon comes from people. “Specifically those who choose to be good, kind, dedicated, supportive, understanding, humble and caring. It’s easy to not to be any of these things, so those who intentionally choose this route are my kind of people.”

Philosophy to live by:
“Do something every day, no matter how big or small, to change the world for the better.”

Giving thanks:
For “my wife Kelly, who is also a very talented and dedicated fundraiser. She is the light at the end of my tunnel, my personal sunrise and the person who gives me purpose and fulfillment.”

Notable quote:
“From Psalms 46:10, ‘Be still.’ It was one of my mother’s favorite things to say. Her interpretation was to be still and wait for the peace and clarity that would come.” 

Inviting Arkansas

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