WISE Symposium Honors Supply Chain Legends and Looks to the Future

WISE Symposium Honors Supply Chain Legends and Looks to the Future
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The Fourth Annual WISE Future Leader Symposium kicks off Oct. 6-7 in the Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The event, themed “A Wiser Future for Supply Chain,” will celebrate female pioneers who have led the way for women in supply chain management, and many legends of the industry will be on hand.

WISE, which stands for Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence, will include keynote speakers: Shelley Simpson, president of J.B. Hunt Transport Services; Kathryn McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club; Amiee Bayer-Thomas, chief supply chain officer of Ulta Beauty; and Debbie Hodges, vice president of supply chain at Walmart. 

Around 115 students and faculty from 24 universities have registered for the symposium. Participants will hear from panels of industry experts discussing a variety of topics related to supply chain challenges like sustainability and technology, how to navigate a successful supply chain career, the importance of mentors and sponsors, and much more. Breakout sessions will discuss key event takeaways and how to increase diversity, especially as it relates to gender, in supply chain students. 


A new addition to this year’s event is the WISE Legends ceremony, an inaugural women's hall of fame featuring 14 women in the supply chain management field. Honorees range from transportation pioneers to women who have influenced the diversity and success of today’s supply chain industry. The honoree list was developed and researched by an inter-university collaboration of female supply chain students. A new class of legends will be introduced at future symposium events.

This year’s honorees include:

  • Johnelle Hunt, co-founder, J.B. Hunt Transport Services
  • Helen Walton, business adviser and wife to Sam Walton, founder of Walmart
  • Edwina Justus, locomotive engineer, Union Pacific
  • Luella Bates, first female commercial truck driver, Four Wheel Drive Auto Company
  • Mary Elizabeth Walton, 19th century inventor of anti-pollution devices for railways
  • Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan, first female trucking firm owner, Drennan Truck Line
  • Shelley Simpson, president, J.B. Hunt Transport Services
  • Ann Drake, founder of AWESOME and former chairman and CEO of DSC Logistics
  • Kathryn McLay, CEO, Sam’s Club
  • Kathryn Wengel, executive vice president and chief global supply chain officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Judith McKenna, president and CEO, Walmart International
  • Judy McReynolds, chairman, president and CEO, ArcBest
  • Rosalind Brewer, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance
  • Barbara Melvin, president and CEO, South Carolina Port Authority


The symposium is sponsored by several companies and individuals:

  • Named Sponsor – Shelley Simpson
  • Gold Sponsors – J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Debbie Hodges
  • Silver Sponsors – Clorox, Uber Freight, USA Truck
  • Bronze Sponsors – ArcBest, BNSF Logistics, Brenda and Douglas Keiser, Dollar General, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Tyson Foods, Ulta Beauty
  • Educator Sponsor – ISCEA (International Supply Chain Education Alliance)


Attendees hail from supply chain programs around the country. Faculty and students attending the symposium include:

  • University of Arkansas
  • Auburn University
  • Brigham Young University
  • The Citadel
  • Colorado State University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Howard University
  • Iowa State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • University of South Florida
  • UT-Dallas
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Western Michigan University
  • University of Wisconsin

For more information regarding the J. B. Hunt Transport Department of Supply Chain Management, please visit supplychain.uark.edu.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News


Stephanie Powell Thomas, associate professor
Department of Supply Chain Management
479-575-7674, sthomas2@walton.uark.edu

Lori McLemore, marketing and communications officer
Sam M. Walton College of Business
479-575-5021, mclemore@uark.edu


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