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BLF is pleased to welcome

Steve Galen to the Board of Directors!

Steve Galen is a senior leader with over 25 years of experience in the consumer industry. Most recently, he was the Sr. Director of BISSELL Homecare, Inc., where he managed a $600M business with Walmart and Sam’s Club. He has also worked with Timex Group, Del Monte Foods, and 3M, leading sales and marketing teams and delivering profitable growth. He holds a degree in Marketing from Virginia Tech and an MBA from The George Washington University School of Business.


He is also a passionate community leader who has served on various boards and committees for local organizations, such as the Bentonville Library Foundation, the Mercy Hospital Foundation, the Best Friends Pet Resource Center, and the NW Arkansas Community College. He has co-founded and co-chaired several initiatives and campaigns that have raised millions of dollars for causes such as cancer research, crisis intervention, job creation, animal welfare and library expansion. He received an honorary associate degree for his community service from NWACC in 2008. Steve and his wife Susie moved to Bentonville in 1997 and raised two children.


BLF is pleased to welcome

Jackie Marzano to the Board of Directors!

Jackie Marzano is V.P. of Retail Sales for RJW Logistics Group. She moved to Bentonville three years ago from downtown Chicago in the middle of the Pandemic.  Because of the obvious circumstances at the time, it was a trying transition, but she has never looked back!  Bentonville is the perfect blend of opportunity and serenity and has truly become her “cherished home”. RJW enables Jackie to navigate the professional landscape as well as champion causes that are close to her heart – chief among them being the Bentonville Public Library and work of the Library Foundation.  Her passion for the library has grown over the last 3 years as she watched the expansion construction bloom.
When Jackie is not soaking in the small-town vibe, she finds joy in listening to the band Phish, enjoying moments with her family and indulging in exploration through travel. Being considered for a board seat at the library is an absolute honor. She is committed to  contributing her skills and enthusiasm to maintain the library as a safe and inviting third-space for all residents and looks forward to continuing to nurture the intellectual richness of our community made possible at the library for all.

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BLF is Honored to Welcome Our New Campaign Champion for Phase II of Our Expansion Campaign!

Shana DeSmit serves as Vice-President, Divisional Merchandise Manager of Meat and Seafood for Sam’s Club. She has been with the company for 31 years, beginning her Walmart career as an hourly cashier. She worked her way up the ranks at Walmart holding a variety of Operations
roles, including Fresh Operations, before joining Sam’s Club as Vice President, Fresh Operations in 2018.

Shana is currently responsible for Sam’s Club Field Operations in the Central Region, where her primary focus is growing sales and membership while transforming the way Sam’s Clubs
operate. She supervises 75 clubs throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. She also oversees more than 15,000 associates and over $5.5 billion in annual sales.


Shana is dedicated to community and sits on multiple boards including Jobs for the Future (JFF), Children’s Miracle Network, and American Heart Association.


Shana grew up on a family farm in Illinois. Her time spent working on the farm taught her life lessons that still serve her well today. She knows that hard work and dedication are the keys to success both on the farm and in retail. She works to instill these values in future generations of
her family and in the team members she develops each day in her work.


Shana holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Eastern Illinois University and received her PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification in 2007 and her SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resources Management – Certified Practitioner) in 2015. As a lifelong learner, Shana has continued her educational experiences, receiving multiple certifications from Cornell University.


2023 Bikes & Books:

A Big Turnout and a Huge Success!

On Saturday July 2nd, the Third Annual OZ Kids™ Bike & Book Fest was hosted at Bentonville Public Library and supported by the Bentonville Library Foundation! The free community event was attended by more than 2,000 people. Bike activities, food, music, crafts, inflatables and more were enjoyed; and, the festival finale was one for the books – a patriotic kids’ bike parade! A free book giveaway was sponsored by KPMG and Pedal It Forward provided 150 bikes with helmets to community children.

We couldn't have hosted this incredible event, without the help and generous support from our presenting sponsors: Arvest Bank, KPMG, The Walmart Museum, Walmart, UAMS Health, and the Ozark Outdoor Foundation. As well as all the benevolent volunteers who helped set up, staff the event and tear it down. Shout out to Altrusa International of Bentonville/Bella Vista, Satellite Rotary Club of Bentonville, Domino’s pizza at Walmart Store #100, the City of Bentonville and other library supporters! Our gratitude is without measure.


The BLF Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Jana Ecrette

Jana Ecrette is a life-long educator, retiring from teaching in 2011 from the University School at the University of Tulsa where she served for 15 years as a Lead Mathematics Teacher for 5th through 8th grades. The University School is a program designed for gifted students ages 3 through 8th grade located on the University campus. During her teaching career, Jana was honored with Oklahoma’s Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award, Oklahoma’s Gifted Educator of the Year Award, and was a Javits Grant educator.


Jana served on the Board of the Oklahoma Association of Gifted, Creative and Talented and was a State and National Convention presenter for numerous years.

Following her retirement from education, Jana continued to serve her community by participating on several local boards including Palmer Continuum of Care for Women, The Chapters Library Trust, and
Tulsa Town Hall. She was honored as a Distinguished Alumni by University of Tulsa, a Member of the University’s Circle Society, and the Chapman Legacy Society. In addition, and to further promote and
foster education, Jana and her husband Jim created an endowed scholarship fund at the University of Tulsa for the College of Arts and Sciences.


Jana graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Environmental Sciences and received a MA in Gifted Education from the University of Tulsa. She and her husband now call Bentonville their home where they continue to be active in supporting education and the arts in both their Oklahoma and Arkansas communities.

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It's finally happening!


Mark your calendars for the Bentonville Public Library Expansion Groundbreaking - to take place on April 27th, 2023 at 1:00 PM



The BLF Board of Directors is excited to welcome Merrilee Soohoo

Merrilee is a lifelong educator and currently a substitute teacher in the Bentonville Public School District.


Over the course of her career, Merrilee has been an active supporter of public libraries in advancing childhood literacy. She enjoyed countless hours in the library as a child and later with her children, which were precious moments to explore the world and learn together. As a teacher and parent in the Palo Alto Unified School District, Merrilee played a role in the city’s book drives for public libraries. She was also awarded Palo Alto’s Substitute Teacher of the Year.


In her personal time, Merrilee enjoys reading, traveling with her husband, lunch with friends, and volunteering with the youth at her church


Merrilee holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. She and her husband raised their kids in Palo Alto, California and now call Bentonville their home.



BLF is delighted to welcome Kevin Hall to its Board of Directors

Kevin Hall is the Survey Department Manager for CEI Engineering and has been with the firm for over 18 years while also being a citizen of Bentonville since 2002.  He has been a part of numerous projects that contribute to the quality of life in the region.  As a recent graduate of Leadership Benton County, he is excited for the new opportunity to serve as a board member of the Bentonville Library Foundation. 


Kevin and his wife Michele have two children, Jordan age 16 and Nora age 7, whom both enjoy spending time at the library.  Along with making Bentonville a place to live, work, and play, Kevin also enjoys kayak fishing, golf, and mountain biking.

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Meet the Foundation's Champion & the New Expansion Plan

Bentonville Library Foundation (BLF) announced at The Big Reveal Event on Wednesday, May 18 that Anthony Soohoo, Executive Vice President (EVP) of the U.S. Home Division at Walmart, will be the Champion for BLF’s Library expansion campaign.

Soohoo shared the news via prerecorded video that “the Bentonville Public Library is a wonderful gem woven into the fabric of our growing community…That’s why I support building a better future and making room for more for the Bentonville Library.”

Also in attendance were representatives from MSR Design, Flintco and Hight Jackson; Mayor Stephanie Orman and Arkansas State Library Director Jennifer Chilcoat.


The presentation revealed the anticipated look and feel for both the exterior and interior of the library. BLF formed a panel at the event to facilitate discussion and answer questions from attendees with members Howard Kerr, Angie Bailey and Steve Galen.


New information is on for community members that would like to keep up to date on the new stage of the expansion process. The Bentonville Library Foundation is excited for what is coming next and hope to bring the community along for the journey.

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BLF is delighted to announce the addition of Terry Coberly to the board

Terry Coberly is a native and former mayor of Bentonville. She was born just down the street from our beautiful facility in 1948 and feels she has had the unique opportunity and pleasure to witness and take a small part in the amazing transformation that has taken place in our community in the recent past.  


Terry likes to say, “I have had the best of both worlds. One was the very small town I grew up in where everyone knew everyone else by name, and the one I live in now where you can meet someone new everyday from anywhere in the world. It simply doesn't get much better than Bentonville, Arkansas and what it has to offer today!”


She graduated from Bentonville High School in 1966 and received both by bachelor’s and Master of Education from the University of Arkansas. Terry retired from teaching high school sixteen years ago and middle school two years ago.  In addition, she served as Bentonville mayor twelve years and Bentonville city clerk nine years.


She and her husband, Jody,  recently returned to Bentonville after living in Fayetteville for ten years. They have one son, Lance Plamer (Mary), and two granddaugthers, Kayla Connelly (Jake), and Tatum Palmer, both teachers in Bentonville, and one great-great granddaughter, Kenzie Connley. She also has three stepchildren Cody (Mindy), Clay, and Carmen Coberly and their children Taylor, Isabella, Lucas, and Autumn and great-grandson, Liam.



BLF is delighted to announce the addition of Ida Fineberg to the board

Ida Fineberg has been a resident of the Northwest Arkansas area since 1998 and a lifelong fan of libraries.  She came to Northwest Arkansas from Dallas where she worked as a Spanish teacher but was fortunate enough to have lived in many different states including Idaho, Kansas and California. 


Currently she is the executive broker/ owner of Steve Fineberg & Associates Real Estate Company located in beautiful downtown Bentonville.  Ida has served on various boards including the Open Avenues Foundation Board,  Havenwood, and the Rogers Community Support Center.  Currently she serves on the property committee of the Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas board. 


As a firm believer that libraries are cornerstones of their communities, Ida is excited and very proud of the opportunity to serve on the Bentonville Library Foundation Board and, as an extension, to serve the Northwest Arkansas community. 

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2021 Message from the President

Dear Bentonville Library Foundation friends,


On behalf of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, I am writing to extend my sincere gratitude for all your support, engagement, and enthusiasm during this transformative year.


Throughout 2021 some of you may have participated in the library’s important Needs Assessment for expansion, attended events such as Bike & Book Fest, volunteered, or invested in the library with your donations to the BLF.


What I know for sure is, the foundation could not fulfill our mission without those of you in our community who support and honor the mission of the library to engage our community, encourage discovery and promote literacy by offering lifelong learning opportunities.


This holiday season and always, please know how profoundly grateful the Bentonville Library Foundation is to have such an inspiring community of volunteers and donors who know that strong libraries build strong communities!


In this video you will meet the four Library Service Award recipients honored this past year – all volunteers serving our library – serving our community!


Wishing you and yours peace and joy this holiday season.




Howard Kerr

BLF President

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BLF is delighted to announce the addition of Anna Bever to the board

Anna Bever is a fifth-generation Bentonville native and resident. She currently works for OneStone, a full service ecommerce agency, as Director of Advertising. Anna received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas before venturing to Scotland, where she graduated with her MBA from the University of Edinburgh. Her interest in the Bentonville Library is rooted in a love of reading, but more so stems from the desire to carry the tradition of Bentonville community service and library support instilled in her by her grandparents, Max and Charlene McGaugh. 

Anna loves taking advantage of her mostly remote role by spending extended periods of time in Central and South America. She enjoys collecting too many houseplants, practicing yoga, and signing up for any adventure available. She also takes surf lessons whenever she can. The irony is not lost on her to have picked up the hobby of surfing while calling a landlocked state 'home.'



BPL Celebrates 15 Years with

Expansion Plans and

Capital Campaign Announcements

from the Library Foundation

On October 30, Bentonville Public Library celebrates 15 years at 405 South Main Street.  Since opening, BPL has circulated more than 8.2 million items and recorded over 4 million visits.  More than half a million people have attended free programs, storytimes and other events at BPL. 

In 2020, BPL completed a Needs Assessment study that collected community feedback to inform expansion options. Bentonville Public Library is contracting with MSR Design for architectural design services and Flintco for preconstruction services. The project is currently in the schematic design phase.


During a special event on October 23 the Bentonville Library Foundation (BLF) announced its capital campaign supporting Bentonville Public Library’s expansion with a spotlight on community contributions. Howard Kerr, BLF President, and Teresa Stafford, Executive Director,shared that the group has raised more than $7,216,000 in lead gifts toward its $10.5 million goal. The private funds raised will join the City of Bentonville’s bond funds of $4.5 million for the library’s $15 million expansion project.


The Library Foundation received a $5.5 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Visit Bentonville pledged $500,000. The Bogle family is contributing $500,000 with an additional gift of $250,000 from Becky & Bob Alexander. The McGaugh Family Fund directed a $250,000 gift and $96,600 was provided through the Norma Hoback Estate. More than $80,000 has been pledged or gifted from many other donors including the Randy Mattingly family, Mark Tate & family, Howard and Elaine Kerr, Steve Trolinger and Kathy Jones.


The Friends of the Bentonville Library are contributing $40,000 to the capital campaign and made a check presentation to the Library Foundation.

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OZ Kids® Fat Tire Criterium & Fall Fest:

A HUGE Success!

On Saturday, October 23, 2021, Bentonville Public Library (BPL) hosted OZ Kids® Fat Tire Criterium & Fall Fest to celebrate the library’s 15-year anniversary with an amazing afternoon of bike races, crafts, books and more!  The festival was attended by approximately 1,500 people with over 250 children participating in the bike race.

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THANK YOU for Making the OZ Kids® Bike & Book Fest a Success!

The Bikes & Books Fest was a HUGE success with nearly 1,000 attendees! This fantastic event was hosted by Bentonville Public Library and the Bentonville Library Foundation - and was presented by Arvest Bank and the Walmart Museum.

Special thanks to Ozark Outdoor Foundation, Downtown Bentonville, Inc., Runway Group, Jimmy John's and Pedal it Forward!  Pedal it Forward distributed 78 bikes and will provide 38 additional bikes to kids on a waitlist later this summer - this is extraordinarily generous!

Additional support was provided by Thaden Field, Strider Bikes, Yoga by Cocoom Yoga Lab, Wonder by Wonder Parties, BelGioioso Cheese, Rambler Sparkling Water, Amanda Welch, Academy Sports, AMP, Flintco Construction, Walmart, Sam's Club, eGluck, Friends of the Bentonville Library and OZ Trails®



Foundation Board President Howard Kerr Interviewed in Celebrate Arkansas Magazine

Q. How will a full expansion better serve our community?

A. The full expansion plan shared by MSR Design is a larger, fully-developed option providing more new amenities and expanded service opportunities. The plan goes beyond the bond option to address current and future needs of the city’s residents. Highlights include a 300-person meeting room, community hub and marketplace area, plus priority areas identified for the bond are larger to make room for more participation. As Bentonville’s population continues to grow, the library must grow with the demands of our diverse community.

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BLF is delighted to announce the addition of 3 new board members

Angie Bailey is a long-time resident of Bentonville and an Arkansas native.  She is the co-owner of a family business, Best-in-Class Suppliers.  She helps manage the business alongside her husband, Dale, and their two children, Tom and Tandie. 

Volunteering in our community not only gives her great joy, but she also believes it is part of our responsibility as members of our community.  She believes, giving back and giving forward are critical pieces of building something better than it was before. 

Like many other folks in NWA, Angie loves to hit our mountain bike and greenway trails.  She is an avid gardener and is working as a first-year beekeeper.  She believes you can learn anything with a library card and an internet search.

Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, and demonstrated fundraising achievement. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a fundraising executive, and have agreed to uphold Accountability Standards and the Donor Bill of Rights.


Dean Hawkins has recently retired after 15 years as Vice President of Sales for Bimbo Bakeries USA. He is currently running a consulting business helping new CPG businesses develop Marketing and Sales strategies. He was born and raised in Shelby, NC, and graduated from Gardner-Webb University with a Business Administration degree. Dean and his wife Sally have two children and two grandchildren. His goal with the Bentonville Library Foundation is to help the Library reach more people with the valuable skill of focused reading.

Bo Grimes currently works for the Nature's Bounty Company as Director, Customer Development on the Sam's Club account.  Before moving to Northwest Arkansas, Bo graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and received his MBA from the University of Arkansas.  His love of reading is what originally led him to get involved with the Bentonville Library and he looks forward to beginning his second term with the Bentonville Library Foundation this coming January.

Bo is married to his wife Ricci, has a daughter named Micah and recently, for some reason, thought it was a good idea to get two puppies at the same time (2 Mini Aussie Shepherds named Ruston and Brooklyn).  He enjoys reading, running, and likes to reminisce about the days when he was allowed to play golf.

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Teresa Stafford Recertified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE)

Alexandria, VA - CFRE International is proud to announce Teresa Stafford has recertified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Teresa Stafford, joins over 7,200 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation.

Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, and demonstrated fundraising achievement. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a fundraising executive, and have agreed to uphold Accountability Standards and the Donor Bill of Rights.

CFRE recipients are awarded certification for a three-year period. To maintain certification status, certificants must demonstrate on-going fundraising employment and fundraising results and continue with their professional education. The CFRE certification signifies a confident, ethical fundraising professional.

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Bentonville Library Foundation receives $7,870 from donors and Walmart matching gifts!

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s lifelong commitment to servant leadership, Walmart hosted a one-day, online matching campaign, MLK Day of Giving, for U.S. Walmart,


Sam’s Club and brand family associates as well as any consumer on January 18th.

Walmart believes “our associates and customers care deeply about supporting nonprofits that address causes of all kinds.”  In honor of MLK Day this year they made it easy for anyone to give back and help meet the needs of others.  The Bentonville Library Foundation is deeply grateful for your leadership Walmart!


Spotlight on our Student Leaders!

Bentonville Library Foundation is thrilled to announce that this bright, interactive, new website was built by two very talented Ignite Professional Studies program students!

Abby Lopez (left) is a recent graduate of Bentonville West High School. She will be attending NWACC as a mechanical engineering major and plans to study abroad, focusing on the science and business of robotics. She is also passionate about graphic design as well as web and app development. Abby hopes her future career plans include all of her passions.

Arthi Krishna (right) is a recent graduate of Bentonville High School. She wrote her first line of code in the 6th grade and has never stopped. Arthi has been active in the Bentonville Public Library as a Math Mentor and a student leader in the Lil' Miss Coders Program. She will be attending Columbia University this fall studying Computer Science.

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