Kay Kelley Arnold retired from Entergy Corporation as vice president of Public Affairs three years ago and now spends her time gardening, fishing, entertaining friends at her cabin on the Little Red River, playing with her dog Scout, traveling and volunteering for political candidates and non-profit causes she believes in. She was a pioneer in understanding and acting on the belief that working cooperatively together, government and the private sector can accomplish goals that can not and do not happen alone. She has led award-winning programs that support the environment and economic growth. She developed effective grass roots campaigns to pass significant legislation and to raise funds for innovative projects that bridge the gaps that exist between economic prosperity and environmental quality.
Her experience in philanthropy and political action is now focused on several state, regional and national organizations where she serves as a board member and volunteer. She currently serves on the board of Arkansas Hospice, and is a founding director of two new environmental non-profits, the Arkansas Environmental Defense Alliance and the Little Red River Foundation. She continues to serve on the national board of The Conservation Fund and is an advisory board member to the Inter-American Foundation and the Foundation of the Mid South. She is also serving as a citizen advisor to the Metroplan board, appointed by Mayor Mark Stodola and an Arkansas advisor to the Clinton Foundation. She is an active member of the Arkansas Women’s Forum and serves as an honorary member of Arkansas Women of Power.
As the first Arkansas director of the Nature Conservancy field office, she learned the importance of partnerships between government, non-profit and corporate entities. Working together these organizations can accomplish more than any one of them could do by themselves and the societal benefits of these collaborations are both enduring and tangible. As the Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage she experienced the power people have to improve their communities when they are focused and flexible to make changes and work diligently toward common goals.
Public service is part of Kay Kelley Arnold’s DNA. Her parents, Henry and Tommie Kelley, always participated in the life of their community and taught their children that it was an honor to be asked and a duty to serve, to volunteer their time and talent to the betterment of society, in small and large ways. That foundation coupled with enlightened employers who understand the value of volunteer opportunities and who encourage employees to find meaningful ways to give back to their community gave Kay the love, spirit and ability to get involved in a wide variety of projects.
For almost 40 years, Kay has been an active volunteer, serving and leading on more than 45 Board of Directors for non-profit and governmental agency advisory boards at the local, state, national, and international levels. As her numerous board and committee positions attest, Kay utilizes her passion for the environment and her commitment to eliminating poverty and expanding economic opportunity to advocate for meaningful change, both within Arkansas and beyond.
Arnold’s decade of volunteer service to the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, the body responsible for setting policy for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, brought momentous improvements to the airport’s passenger experience while dramatically increasing its economic impact on the state of Arkansas.
Arnold, who twice served as chairwoman, was influential in changing the airport’s longstanding business model with airlines, an unheard-of move at the time. This enabled the airport commission to begin retaining record earnings, which have helped to bring about $90 million in improvements during the largest construction initiative within the organization’s history. The projects have included a new ticket lobby, baggage claim renovation, an enlarged security checkpoint in addition to an upcoming concourse renovation. Much of the work, which was completed by local contractors, began at the end of the recession, and provided a much needed spur to the local economy. The first phase of the terminal redevelopment project was completed in May 2013 with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton in attendance to celebrate the airport’s transformation, and formally dedicate the facility as Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The concourse renovation, the last portion of the long-term project, will start later this summer.
Clinton National Airport, which is now debt free, has been a trailblazer as airports across the country have since adopted the Little Rock Airport’s best practices, set forth by the airport commission, as their choice financial model for future success.
The airport is home to nearly 4,000 jobs with approximately half of those located at Dassault-Falcon Jet Corporation. Occupying more than 1-million square feet, Dassault-Falcon’s operation at Clinton National is the largest in the world. In 2013 during Arnold’s last term as chairwoman, Dassault was looking at several communities that were vying to be the site of the company’s new facility to serve as the completion center for two new jets, the Falcon 5X and the Falcon 8X. Arnold was exceedingly determined that Little Rock would be chosen, which would result in a 250-thousand square foot expansion and additional, good paying jobs. Through Arnold’s leadership, the airport provided $41 million in rent incentives, which helped Little Rock win the project that was completed in November 2015.