Center for Professional Excellence
For Harrison Arkansas native Joan Bell, each day brings new opportunities to shine. In 1999, the Summa Cum Laude graduate of Harding University returned to her hometown with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She began a career in the Marketing Department at First Federal Bank, a community bank founded in 1934 and traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol FFBH. She quickly rose to meet other challenges in several other departments. She currently serves as Vice President/Director of Compliance, where she focuses on customized education, risk analysis, and legal and regulatory compliance. The banking industry is ever-changing, and Joan continues to operate, communicate, and plan strategically to meet the challenges ahead.
She and her husband David (Harding ’99) enjoy two wonderful children: Madison is 9, and Maddox is 6. As a family, they attend Northside Church of Christ where they seek to use their talents to bring glory to the Lord. Joan is active in the Harrison Kiwanis Club, serves as President of the Junior Auxiliary of Harrison, and was instrumental in reviving the Youth Leadership Academy for the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Her advice to others is to ‘strive to be a lifelong learner.’ She adds ‘Look for people that can mentor you and then volunteer to mentor when you have those skills.’
Brett Biggs is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Walmart U.S. He is responsible for U.S. finance functions including strategy, merchandising, logistics, financial services, real estate, operations, and financial planning and analysis.
Before being appointed to his current role, he served as Senior Vice President, Operations for Sam’s Club. In this role, he led all facets of Sam’s Club operations in the southern part of the U.S. encompassing 13 states and Puerto Rico with over 230 clubs and 40,000 associates.
Previously, Brett was Senior Vice President, International Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions. In this capacity, Brett led the strategy and execution for Walmart’s entry into Japan and India, as well as acquisitions and partnerships in China, the U.K., Brazil and Central America. He has also served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance, in which Brett led Walmart’s Treasury operations and capital markets functions, including managing global banking relationships. He was then promoted to Chief Financial Officer, Sam’s Club, leading the finance and strategy functions for Sam’s Club.
Prior to joining Walmart in 2000, Brett held various M&A and corporate finance positions with Leggett & Platt, Phillips Petroleum Co. and Price Waterhouse.
Brett is involved in various civic functions including serving on the Board of Directors for MANA, a nonprofit group focused on acute malnutrition in African children. Brett also serves on the Cancer Challenge Board and is a former member of the Board of the First Tee of Northwest Arkansas.
Brett graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harding University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and later received a MBA with Honors from Oklahoma State University. He serves in various advisory roles at Harding University.
Brett and his wife, Kara, have two daughters and live in Rogers, Arkansas.
Brad founded, grew and led two companies, successfully selling both of them to large multi-billion dollar financial institutions.
He began his career as a CPA with an international accounting firm. From there he proceeded to write the business plan and raise capital for a small entertainment company, eventually becoming President and CEO at the young age of 26. In 1990 he founded his first mortgage finance company, subsequently growing and building it to over 1,200 employees and annual volume of over $5 billion. He and his partner successfully sold the company to a very large commercial bank. Later he founded another financial company, built it and subsequently sold it to a major international investment bank.
His expertise resides in the areas of: growing your company, raising capital, building a winning culture, business ethics and integrity, leadership, management, and selling your business.
In 2009 he left the corporate world and now spends most of his time in three areas; running a private investment company, working with Sports Friends, an international mission organization, and is the Alumni Director for Halftime of the Carolinas.
Brad is married to Teri, and they have three sons. His hobbies include fishing, golf, going to baseball games, and training for sprint triathlons.
Brad is devoting his second half to Kingdom advancement for the cause of Christ.
Byron currently serves as the U.S. Real Estate Practice Leader. Byron joined PwC after a distinguished career in the private sector of the real estate industry.
Prior to assuming his current role, Byron served as the CEO and President of CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc for seven years and served CNL as President of two other REITs over his twelve year career. His resume also includes three years as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Post Properties and nine years as Managing Director for Crow Holdings International.
Byron brings extensive knowledge of the real estate industry across the real estate life cycle, including the capital markets, experience in developing and implementing a strategic vision and a strong commitment to a partnership culture.
Byron is an inactive CPA, currently a governor of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a member of Real Estate Roundtable, NAREIT, and AFIRE. He is also a board member of Harvard Club of Dallas and the American Studies Institute and a board member emeritus of Harvard Business School. He is on the board for the Dallas Summer Musicals.
He and his wife, Laura, reside in Dallas. They are parents of Elizabeth, Trey and Barker and proud grand-parents of William, son of Elizabeth and Kevin Phillip.
Dave Finley is the President and CEO of LeadsOnline, a leading criminal investigations system used by law enforcement agencies across America.
Dave and his company are passionate about equipping and serving criminal investigators and spend their days developing, launching and supporting innovative services to help them solve countless crimes.
Dave is a graduate of Harding University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He holds an MBA from Texas A&M University and a Master’s degree in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas. He has served as a leader in entrepreneurial enterprises and Fortune 100 companies including Sprint, contributing to its relentless innovation and aggressive growth through the 1990s.
He also serves as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study, an interdenominational Bible study with more than 700 classes throughout the United States and in more than 70 foreign countries. Dave and his lovely wife of 26 years have raised two boys and live near Dallas, Texas.
Prior to his retirement in 2012, Mark Weeks was Senior Vice President of Finance and Controller for the Pharmacy Services division of CVS Caremark. In 2007, CVS Caremark was formed from the merger of CVS Corporation and Caremark Rx, Inc. Before the merger, he was the Corporate Controller and Principal Accounting Officer for Caremark Rx, Inc., a Fortune 500 publicly traded company whose stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Weeks’ responsibilities included the company’s accounting functions, external financial reporting, third party reimbursement, Medicare Part D financial planning and analysis, M&A accounting due diligence and financial integration. Mr. Weeks joined Caremark in June 1994.
Before joining Caremark, Mark Weeks was a senior manager for Ernst & Young, a national public accounting firm. Mr. Weeks worked in Ernst & Young’s audit practice and served clients in the health care and insurance industries.
Mark Weeks graduated from Harding University in 1985 with degrees in Accounting and Computer Science. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Weeks currently serves in a voluntary role as Treasurer for the Board of Directors of an independent school in Nashville, Tennessee.
Blair Bryan (Advisor to the Board)
Blair’s a 1984 graduate of Harding University receiving a BBA in accounting. After working for 2 years as a staff accountant with Arthur Young, Blair left to launch a career in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company. In commercial brokerage and real estate consulting, Blair worked in 26 states and completed transactions totaling over $1.8B and encompassing in excess of 20 million square feet.
In 1996, Blair was offered the opportunity to own his first office for The Staubach Company. He started the Charlotte office and over the next eight (8) years, Blair expanded by starting six (6) additional offices for The Staubach Company throughout the Southeastern U.S. In early 2007, The Staubach Company completed a sale of the company to Jones Lang LaSalle. Blair continued to work with Jones Lang LaSalle for the next 3.5 years.
While Blair had experienced success in the commercial real estate industry, he came to the realization that he desired to primarily focus his efforts into avenues that could further the Kingdom of God. Blair serves as an elder at the Providence Road Church of Christ; assists the Center for Professional Excellence at Harding University’s Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration and works with an investment company based in Charlotte. He is the father of four (4) children and is married to Karen (Slater) Bryan.
Phil Brown is a Professor in Accounting and serves as department chair for Accounting and Finance at Harding University. He holds his CPA (inactive) licensure. He earned his B.B.A. from Harding University, an M.B.A. from West Virginia University and his Ph.D. from The University of Mississippi. Phil is in his 32nd year of teaching accounting. Primary teaching interests focus on financial accounting, particularly the undergraduate Intermediate and Principles courses. He also teaches Advanced Accounting and Financial Analysis. Phil strives to live by Colossians 3:17. He and a colleague, Bob Churchman, were named recipients of the Bea Sanders/AICPA Innovation in Teaching Award for their work on attracting the best and brightest to the field of accounting. He has been named Harding’s COBA Faculty of the Year three times and has been honored as recipient of Harding’s distinguished Teacher Achievement Award.
Phil enjoys watching sports of all kinds at all levels, but especially college athletics. He and his wife of 32 years, Susan, have two daughters, Jessica and Kristen. Both Jessica and Kristen earned accounting degrees from Harding and are active in accounting and finance careers.
Reet Cronk is a Professor in Information Systems and serves as department chair for Management Information Systems at Harding University. Dr Cronk holds a PhD in information systems from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, a MSc in Molecular Genetics from the Australian National University and a BSc in medical technology from the University of Canberra, Australia.
Reet is active in the Information Systems research field publishing in and reviewing for many international conferences and journals, and is assistant editor of the Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation. She has been awarded best paper awards and been a keynote speaker at the conference European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation held in Mont Pellier, France. Reet has been leading the Information Systems program at Harding for the last 14 years and had 7 years of teaching experience prior to coming to Harding. She received the distinguished teacher award in 2011.
Reet and her husband of 37 years, Keith, are originally from Australia and have a son Matthew, and two daughters, Penelope and Christina.