Van Tilbury

Generations of Generosity: Association of Fundraising Professionals Arkansas Chapter Honorees

By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Reeves

As CEO of East Harding Construction and a member of the Arkansas Arts Center board of directors, Van Tilbury is personally and professionally committed to improving the lives of Arkansans. In his words, “All we can do is give our time, talent and treasures as far as they will stretch throughout the community where we live and work. I want to contribute to a healthy environment for my employees, my family and even my competitors, so East Harding as a company gives with enthusiasm where we think we can make a difference.”

In addition to the Arkansas Arts Center, Van and East Harding Construction support countless other organizations including the Museum of Discovery, Camp Aldersgate and Riverfest. For all of this generosity, he’s being honored as Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser.

At East Harding Construction, Van says he’s fortunate to have joined a strong corporate culture of philanthropy established by his partners. “I have been grateful to continue to grow that culture, and I’m especially proud of the investment our employees make in our community because I know that they are making a measurable difference.”

The Arkansas Arts Center is a tremendous asset to the state, Van says – that’s why he and East Harding Construction support this organization. Growing up in Heber Springs, he recounts the influence of art during his childhood, with his mom as a painter and his dad as an amateur photographer. Van remembers when the AAC ArtMobile came to visit. “The Arkansas Arts Center is vital to our state’s global economic development efforts and contributes significantly to our quality of life.”

Watching an organization flourish and change lives are top priorities for Van as he continues to work hard as a volunteer fundraiser. “It is very rewarding to me when my efforts help a nonprofit fully realize their mission.”

Living in Central Arkansas makes civic leadership and community impact accessible, Van says. “Someone like me, my family and my employees can get involved, make a difference and actually see the results.”

Mentoring future leaders is what Van enjoys most about his various volunteer fundraising roles. “The most impactful experiences for me are when I have been allowed to serve as a mentor to younger nonprofit development directors and executive directors. I have seen them significantly grow their organizations and events, which allows them to impact more lives than any one person could ever do alone.”

Inspired by his wife, Van says Elizabeth keeps him grounded through their faith by returning him to scripture for guidance, strength and encouragement. “She is my best friend and my counselor. She also manages our household and the schedules of our four children, thereby allowing me to focus on our business and the select nonprofits I serve.”

Philosophy to live by:
“The ‘I’m third’” servant leader model I learned at Kanakuk Kamp in 1975. It puts God first, others second and I’m third.”

Giving thanks:
For “another sunrise to start another day on this earth to enjoy our healthy parents, children who bring us joy, a great business with employees of character and our own health.”

Notable quote:
“Drink deep, because the cup of life passes only once.”

Inviting Arkansas

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