We’re spotlighting some amazing members of NextUp Northwest Arkansas, so check out their inspiring stories and advice!

Lela Davidson
Business Innovation Officer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary &
Executive Co-Chair of NextUp Northwest Arkansas

Why is it important to you to be part of NextUp?
NextUp is the most powerful organization I’ve been part of in terms of networking and professional development. I am selfishly actively engaged to learn as much as I possibly can.

What has been your biggest benefit from being part of NextUp?
The challenges of leading such a high-performing volunteer team have stretched and grown me exponentially.

What are you looking most forward to with NextUp over the next year?
In the past year, we have launched a rigorous strategic planning framework. In the next year, I look forward to the balance the team will create between delivering our commitments today and building on the longer-term vision for our region.

Best part of your job:
It’s new, so the best part right now is getting to know the team and getting to create an approach to creating sustainable non-traditional revenue for the museum.

First big break:
Maybe not a “big break” but one of the best opportunities I ever pursued was taking a bank-sponsored accounting class when I was a teller in college in my home town. That opened the world of financial literacy, which has been the foundation for everything I’ve done.

What changes have you seen within your workplace in regard to empowering women?
I think since the pandemic, most employers are embracing greater levels of flexibility as a way to attract and retain the best talent across all life stages.

Advice you’d give to other working women/moms:
You have to make the right choice for yourself right now. You can always make a different choice later. Don’t beat up on yourself for past choices and keep moving forward.

Personal Mantra:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau

Best advice you’ve ever received:
Always stay open to new opportunities.

Best part of your day:
If it’s a day I’m working out, it’s AFTER I’ve worked out 😊

Surprising fact about you:
I’m super extroverted, but I also like to be alone a lot. So maybe I’m an ambivert.

Do you still seek out mentors or mentees?
Yes, all the time! I’ll seek out mentors in specific areas I’m trying to develop. And in terms of mentees, I’m always open to connect with women seeking guidance or support.

How do you stay motivated?
I tend to take on too much, so it’s super important that I schedule down time and time to connect with friends and family. That, and creating boundaries around how I’m willing to use my energy.

Thing you’re most proud of:
Obviously, my amazing kids, who are now the kind of adults I want to hang out with!

For more information about NextUp Northwest Arkansas, visit https://www.nextupisnow.org/regions/northwest-arkansas/.