Debra Layton has lived in NWA since 1995 and retired from Walmart Inc. in July of 2017. She is a global retail leader skilled at developing and implementing transformative change across large and small enterprises. She spent 31 years at the retail giant growing her career and improving the lives of thousands of people, on 6 continents and over 30 countries.
After retiring from Walmart, Inc. Debra knew she had an obligation and responsibility to help shape where she lives. She now has more time to invest, plus the opportunity to parley her business acumen into meaningful advocacy. Debra knows that living and working in a welcoming and inclusive community is incredibly important to the growth of any area and especially Northwest Arkansas.
Debra currently serves on the Board of Directors for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, Rogers AR, she is member of the Network for Executive Women (NEW)- NWA Region and a 1 Million Cup-Community Leader (nationwide program that promotes the engagement, education and connection of entrepreneurs).
Previous leadership roles include, Founding Member of the President’s Council of Global Female Leaders (Walmart), Women’s Officer Caucus (Walmart), Executive Sponsor of the Hispanic Latino Associate Resource Group (Walmart), PRIDE Sponsor and Advocate (LGBTQ) (Walmart), Board of Directors for the NWA Women’s Shelter.
Debra currently serves as the Executive Director for the Peel-Compton Foundation and previously served as Interim President and CEO for the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE & STRATEGIES
Shannon and her family moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1997. Prior to moving to Northwest Arkansas, Shannon lived and worked in Dallas, Texas, Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana where she began her professional career with Price Waterhouse and then transferred to their newly created Austin, Texas office as part of the leadership group in the audit department. Shannon has spent her professional career in accounting, finance, business strategy and planning roles with increasing levels of responsibilities.
Upon moving to Northwest Arkansas, Shannon enrolled and earned her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1998. She then joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas and taught graduate level courses. Through her teaching, she become a leader in developing new talent for the ever-growing Walmart vendor community. Subsequently, she joined Nestle USA and then the Campbell Soup Company’s sales teams supporting both Walmart and Sam’s Club earning several Global Leadership Awards. Finally, she made the jump to Walmart, Inc. in 2012 where she led the Sam’s Club finance and planning organization and had financial leadership roles in the apparel division and Walmart technology.
Throughout her professional career, she has always been a supporter of the non-profit community. She has served as treasurer for many organizations including the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School PTO, the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, the Gamma Nu Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma House Board and currently serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Open Avenues.
Shannon has been able to combine her two passions-finance and non-profits and today serves as the Director of Finance and Strategy for The Peel Compton Foundation. She is a C.P.A. and continues to mentor several young professionals.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
An Arkansas native, Rikki grew up in the Ozark Mountains and graduated from the University of Arkansas. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to write and travel, before returning home. With a desire to have a positive impact on Northwest Arkansas, Rikki took a position with The Walmart Museum where she focused on community outreach and event production. She has joined the Peel Compton Foundation as Director of Development to bring her passion for community and engagement to the organization as it expands and increases the ways it gives back to the region and all those who visit. Rikki serves on the Amazeum Ungala Committee and volunteers at various community events and conferences.
SITE MANAGER FOR THE PEEL MANSION MUSEUM & HERITAGE GARDENS
Zella began working for The Peel Compton Foundation full time as Horticulturist in July 2007. She is currently the Peel Mansion and Heritage Gardens Site Manager. Zella is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in Landscape Horticulture. While she was attending school, she worked for the University of Arkansas maintaining the horticulture gardens. Zella did her horticulture internship with The Peel Compton Foundation in the summer of 2003 and so has been connected to and instrumental in shaping our gardens for a very long time.
Zella became interested in plants when she was a young child and still finds great delight in watching new plants emerge. She hopes to pass some of that interest on to one of her children and to anyone that is interested in learning about plants. She loves to see people strolling the grounds and exploring what the garden currently has in bloom.
SITE MANAGER FOR COMPTON GARDENS AND CONFERENCE CENTER
Madeline grew up an Army Brat and has been gardening from the moment her parents let her play in the dirt. While her family was stationed in Europe her parents took her to every garden, castle and park. She was once lost by her parents in castle garden and was later found asleep under some rose bushes. "Flowers bring happiness and magic to life" as she says and she just can’t get enough.
When her father retired her family settled in North Florida and this is where most of her gardening education took place. After college she volunteered in several local gardens, her parents and worked in her own garden as well learning by doing. As her passion for gardening grew she wanted to do more. Madeline went to work at the St. Johns county Extension office in the Horticulture department and studied everything she could get her hands on about flowers and vegetables. Madeline became a Master Gardener and soon was teaching the Master Gardener Program. When her son went off to college in Arkansas she fell in love with the Ozarks! It was time for a change of landscape and new gardening challenges to learn/master. Madeline joined our team as the Compton Gardens Site manager and is loving every minute of this Ozark native flower garden.
MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Jeannie discovered The Peel Compton Foundation by way of walks with her grandchildren through Compton Gardens. Jeannie is passionate about spreading awareness of the two iconic and historical homes and their gardens. One message these spaces carry to the community is how we value history and green space here in Northwest Arkansas. In her role of marketing and development, she is able to raise awareness of our mission and connect the community to this hidden treasure of native plants and trees she discovered here as a neighbor through social media and community outreach.
MARY JOAN CONWAY,
VENUE RENTALS MANAGER
Mary Joan Conway is focused on sales bookings for Compton Gardens and The Peel Mansion and Heritage Gardens. Mary Joan keeps venue bookings running smoothly and continues to spread the word that our venues offer some of the best locales to have an event in and near downtown Bentonville. She is building strong relationships with community stakeholders to further the mission of The Peel Compton Foundation. She is passionate about community programming that builds awareness of the history and heritage of The Peel Compton Foundation and how it enhances Northwest Arkansas. She graduated from Duquesne University and is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has lived and traveled with her family all over the United States. Mary Joan came to Compton Gardens on a field trip with her children in 2011 and was inspired by the landscape and native gardens. She has worked with many teams at Crystal Bridges and brings that knowledge to her work here. You may see her exploring the trails, on the lake, at cultural events or making the most of the Ozarks.
Born and raised in Altus, Arkansas, Justin grew up on a large farm in a very small town. As the middle child with big dreams and an obsession with the Razorbacks, he moved to NWA in 2010 and immediately fell in love with its fast paced energy, but small town feel.
EVENTS AND TOURS MANAGER
Justin graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism. Shortly thereafter he moved to Columbia, Missouri, where he worked for the Office of Greek Life and studied Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. After graduating with his M.Ed., he moved back to NWA and accepted a job as Coordinator of Parent & Family Programs at his alma mater, the University of Arkansas.
Justin, along with his husband, son, three dogs and cat, reside in Cave Springs, where they love hiking the trails of NWA, park hopping, eating ice cream for dinner, cheering on the Razorbacks and taking advantage of all of the fun things our region has to offer.
With a passion for event management and community engagement, he joined the Peel Compton Foundation as their Event & Tours Manager.
MUSEUM STORE MANAGER
Julie has managed the Peel Museum Store since October of 2018. Julie has over 25 years in merchandising, planning and purchasing For Walmart, Sam's Club and Grandma's Sweet Things. She has also been a medical office manager and in the real estate industry. Julie has a large customer service and design background. Her family moved to Bentonville when she was a small child and both of her parents worked for Walmart. Julie has seen the wonderful changes and growth here in Northwest Arkansas and really enjoys meeting the visitors that come to the beautiful home and property of the Peel Mansion.
Samantha Nelson grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts. She was heavily involved in sports starting at a young age, playing hockey, baseball, dance, and gymnastics. Gymnastics became the focus of her athletic career. She moved to Arkansas in 2013 on a full athletic scholarship to compete on the Razorback Women's Gymnastics team earning multiple SEC honors and awards. Along with competing she earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and Marketing with a minor in Sports Management.
After her four years of undergrad, Samantha moved on to earn her Master's Degree in Sports Management. She held a graduate assistant position within the Razorback Student-Athlete Development Department focusing on helping the student-athletes reach their fullest potential with career development, personal development, and community engagement. Samantha is brand new with The Foundation supporting the entire team with a focus on rental of our venues.