Arkansas' Power Women December 2019

Arkansas’ Power Women 2019 – Tonya Villines


Tonya Villines

Tonya Villines
President of Junior Achievement


How did you get started in your industry?

I love helping people and making a difference. My husband and I was involved in the Fellowship Kids Ministry at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, where I taught 4-year olds. At that time God put a strong desire in my heart to advocate for youth development, and I’ve followed that desire ever since, leading me first to overseeing a children’s ministry at a church plant and eventually to Junior Achievement, where I equip K-12 students across Arkansas for their careers.


What attracted you to your career?

I love working for an organization that changes and transforms lives. I was especially drawn in by Junior Achievement’s goal of empowering young people to reach their dreams. Our classroom mentors inspire young people each week through providing real-world knowledge and skills. Seeing that transformation is absolutely exhilarating. All too often students are underserved by their schools, especially in terms of financial and economic knowledge. Junior Achievement of Arkansas is the foremost group working to change that, and presiding over JA has been incredibly rewarding.


What is your secret to success?

I learned early in my career that leadership is about people and relationships, that true leaders don’t work to advance themselves, but to advance others. If you’re placed in such a position, it’s vital that you build a positive environment for your team members and community with the people you serve. Those connections are the real recipe for success.


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The width and breadth of our state’s Junior Achievement program. This year, JA is currently on track to serve over 13,000 students with more than 75,000 hours of JA educational programming. Junior Achievement is the foremost educational nonprofit in Arkansas; we pull together schools and businesses to provide truly remarkable growth experiences for our state’s students.


What is your favorite quote?

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

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