While Julie McCallister was finishing up her master’s degree at UA Little Rock in 2007, she had no idea that her part-time internship would turn into an opportunity with such enormous growth potential.
McCallister, a native of Little Rock, serves as president of ECCI, an environmental consulting and engineering firm based in Little Rock that provides state and national industries with environmental and engineering solutions that enhance production efficiency, sustainability growth, and safety and environmental training.
“I was in graduate school when I was starting my career at ECCI, although I didn’t realize at the time that I was just beginning my now 17-year-long career,” McCallister said. “I had just met my husband, and I was working as a graduate teaching assistant for science classes. I had a great experience, and my degree definitely prepared me for where I am in the science field.”
After finishing her master’s degree in integrated science and math with a graduate certificate in geospatial technology, ECCI hired McCallister full time as an environmental scientist. One of her first and most impactful projects that she was tasked with was traveling across five states and collecting hazardous material data for the Army National Guard 90th Regional Readiness Command.
She then spent the next 12 years as a senior project manager at ECCI, where she managed multiple industrial clients and their environmental projects, as well as being very involved with the Arkansas Environmental Federation. McCallister said the company has a close-knit family environment.
“ECCI is like a family, and the leadership and management have always put the individual employee at the forefront,” she said. “We have a unique interview process where you are basically interviewed by the entire staff. We like to make sure that you not only have the skills for the job, but that you will fit in with our personality and culture.”
Since becoming president in 2019, McCallister has continued to emphasize employee wellness with free gym memberships and a brown bag luncheon program that brings in doctors, chefs, financial planners, and government officials to share their knowledge with ECCI staffers.
She also established ECCI’s Nonprofit of the Month Program, where employees are encouraged to nominate great nonprofit organizations in the community. ECCI presents the nonprofit of the month with a donation and encourages employees to make a difference by volunteering.
“Everyone in the office has something that they are passionate about,” McCallister said. “I think it’s important that we support our employees and our community by recognizing the excellent work of a local nonprofit organization that our employees have discovered. Our next service project this fall is called Heels to Hammers, a Habitat for Humanity project in Garland County. Over the course of five days, 200 women will come together to build two houses, side by side, for two deserving families in the Garland County community.”
McCallister and her husband Aaron are the proud parents of three children: Josh, Olivia, and Ella. Attending UA Little Rock has become a family affair.
“I know that UA Little Rock is a terrific school,” she said. “My father graduated with a business degree in 1973 and then ran a successful real estate appraisal company in Little Rock,” she said. “That’s where I had my first job. Now my son will be graduating in December from the Construction Management program. We have family history here. We also have multiple UA Little Rock alumni in my office. I appreciate that the university is so close. It’s an asset for us.”
McCallister’s advice for college students is to keep yourself open to new possibilities when you choose a major.
“There’s a good chance that your plans will change,” she said. “Now is the time in your life to expand and figure out what you really want to do. I would suggest that college students take as many classes as possible.”