Executive Faculty Exchange

The Executive Faculty Exchange was created for faculty and staff to have direct access to local and regional executives and engage them in discussions on current issues. The spring speakers are:

February 7, 2013


Ronald F. Mathieu, Executive Director of the BIll and Hillary Clinton National Airport

Ronald F. Mathieu was named Executive Director at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport June 26, 2008. As Executive Director, Mathieu is responsible for the overall administration, operation, maintenance, and development of the airport.
Formerly Director of Operations at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida, Mathieu directed airside, landside, terminal, and security operations and was also responsible for the operation of North Perry airport, a large general aviation airport in Broward County, Florida.

Mathieu was responsible for all emergency operations at the airport and, in addition, was successful in designing and implementing the hurricane plan for the 2004 and 2005 season. Mathieu personally managed the orderly shutdown, securing, and reopening of the airport saying he is “focused on the customer and always eager to find ways to improve their experience at the airport.”

He has also served on the senior staff at both LaGuardia and JFK Airports in New York as well as holding numerous operations, supervisory, and administrative positions at Teterboro and Newark airports in New Jersey, the World Trade Center and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.

Mathieu is a private pilot with 23 years of experience and a member of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Appointments 2010-2011

AAAE Airport Financing Task Force – September 2011
Chair, AAAE Diversity Committee – May 2011
Reappointed, AAAE Policy Review Committee – May 2011
AAAE Policy Review Committee – September 2010

Mathieu holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Management from the Florida Institute of Technology. In November 2011, Ron completed the Certified Member Program of the American Association of Airport Executives. Ron is an ex officio member of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


April 11, 2013

Jay Chesshir, CCE,  President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce

On May 19, 2006, Jay Chesshir became the fifteenth President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in its 143-year history.

He began his career at the Little Rock Regional Chamber in February 2005, serving as Economic Development Vice President, Senior Staff Executive for Fifty for the Future, and Executive Director of the Metro Little Rock Alliance, an eleven county marketing coalition dedicated to central Arkansas’s becoming recognized as the premier location for new and expanding business within the mid-south.

Under his leadership, the Chamber has worked to bring over $1.2 billion in new and expanded capital investment in the region, accounting for 10,064 new jobs and $393,414,594 in annual payroll.

He previously served as President of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Garland County Economic Development Corporation.

In 1999, Governor Mike Huckabee appointed him to the Arkansas Task Force on Non-Baccalaureate Postsecondary Education to study workforce development issues facing the state. He is a former chairman of the Arkansas Economic Developers and continues to serve as the group’s Legislative Committee chairman. In 2001, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas recognized him for his outstanding representation of the Arkansas business and economic development community during the 83rd Legislative General Assembly.

In December of 2003, Governor Huckabee appointed him to the Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Higher Education. He also served as Campaign Secretary for the 2004 statewide Amendment 2 Campaign Committee which was successful in creating “Super Projects” incentives for Arkansas.  In 2006, Chesshir was named Arkansas Economic Developer of the Year by the Arkansas Economic Developers Association.
He currently serves as a member of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business and Economic Forecast Advisory Boards, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences BioVentures Advisory Board and Executive Committee of the Arkansas Partnership.  He also serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, American Chamber of Commerce Executive’s Board of Directors and is a Ford Foundation Fellow in the ACCE Regionalism and Sustainable Development Program.

Chesshir received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas. He has been designated as a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and is a graduate of both the Institute for Organization Management and Economic Development Institute.


The fall speakers were:

Sept. 27

James Barnes, Founder & CEO of BBA Solutions and Owner of Firstclassbooks.com and Renttext.com

In 1996, Barnes, along with his brother, Terry established a college textbook company. A graduate of Henderson State University, he believed that he could provide better value to students by offering more used textbooks as an option. So Barnes opened the Reddie or Not Bookstore as the off-campus solution for the college textbook market. The first day was so slow that he took a table outside and set it up next to the street so he would have more visibility.James Barnes

In 1997, Textbook Brokers was established as the alternative for textbook sales at the University of Central Arkansas. That brand would become the name synonymous with affordable textbooks for the last two decades. They now service more than 100 colleges and universities in 20 states and are growing each year. From those humble beginnings they have grown into the fourth largest college textbook company in the U.S.

In the early 2000s, they were one of the first college textbooks companies to create an online market for students. Throughout the years, they have been innovators in the college textbook market, which has led to their rapid growth.

In 2011, they rebranded their company to BBA Corp., which has now transitioned to BBA Solutions representing all the services and products the company provides.

 Nov. 8

John Flake, Chairman of Flake & Kelley Commercial

Bio courtesy of “The Daily Record”

 John Flake, who started his business in 1979, has had his hand in a wide range of commercial projects over the past 33 years. Picking out the most challenging project is too difficult a task for Flake – “I think they’re all challenging,” he said – but choosing the project he enjoyed the most is easy.John Flake

“As you go through life and you look back at what you’ve done, the project that I am most proud of was not a development project,” Flake said. “I was a friend of (civil rights activist) Daisy Bates and in the 1980s she was having a hard time with her house. I worked with the Christian Ministerial Alliance and we got the home paid for. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Accomplishing that has meant a lot to me.”

Flake was born and raised in Little Rock, graduating from Hall High School, later earning a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois. He then earned a Masters in Business Administration from Babson College in Massachusetts, one of the first MBA programs to teach entrepreneurial studies.

John Flake founded Flake and Company in Oct. 1979. In 1983, the company began a project on its building at 425 W. Capitol Avenue in downtown Little Rock. During that project, Hank Kelley joined the company as a partner. “We really took off from there,” Flake said. “Hank is the greatest partner anybody could ever have. We work together very well.”

The company can help facilitate virtually any commercial real estate request for its clients. The company handles asset and property management and has developed numerous projects both for and with clients.

Flake is ingrained in his community, having served as the past chairman of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Society, and serving on boards with such organizations as the Little Rock National Airport Commission, Downtown Partnership, and Big Brothers of Pulaski County.

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