Michelle Barnes, alumni of the College of Social Sciences and Communication (CSSC), was recently honored as a Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Little Rock 20 over 20 Award recipient. On October 5, 2017, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) held its inaugural award ceremony geared exclusively for nonprofit professionals in the Central Arkansas region. YNPN states the award “…acknowledge[s] the hard work and dedication that these 20 individuals have to the [nonprofit] sector.”
Barnes is something of a “double” alumna of the CSSC. She earned her BA in Sociology with a minor in Journalism from UA Little Rock in 2005 and then earned her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from UA Little Rock in 2013.
Never one to shy away from hard work, Barnes is very busy in her professional endeavors. Currently, she serves as the Director of Housing for Our House, Inc., a Little Rock-based organization which, as stated in the Our House mission, “…empowers homeless and near-homeless families and individuals to succeed in the workforce, in school, and in life through hard work, wise decision-making, and active participation in the community.”
Additionally, Barnes founded Real Images, Inc. in 2014. According to their website, “Real Images…is a woman empowerment organization designed to create a strongly knit community among women and young girls.” In addition to founding this organization, Barnes serves as the Executive Director.
“I’m so humbled by the recognition,” says Barnes. “I was raised in a small community where we took care of each other, no matter what household they were in. Even to visit someone, you were guaranteed an offer for a plate of food. That spirit is the foundation of why I care about my community and why making Real Images as inclusive as possible is so important to me.”
Complementing the values that her community instilled in her growing up, Barnes is grateful for her time here on campus. “I will always have deep love and gratitude for my education at UA Little Rock,” says Barnes. “I would not have dreamed it possible for me to create and build a nonprofit if not for classes I received through the MPA program. The faculty added so much to my leadership toolbox. I’ve gained lifelong mentors in my former professors.”