Board of Directors

Chris Page, Chairman of the Board
SVP, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Mr. Page leads the Donor Services team at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), a nonprofit professional services organization based in New York that administers over $200 million in grantmaking annually. He and his staff work globally with individual donors, charitable institutions, and corporate foundations to develop strategies, manage grantmaking programs and assess their impact. With over 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience, his career has been largely focused on issues of poverty alleviation, community development and family financial security. Prior to joining RPA, Mr. Page served in the Ford Foundation’s rural poverty and economic development programs. He is a Trustee of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a UK-based nonprofit global climate change reporting system utilized by over 3,000 organizations in 60 countries.

Herman Strickland, Secretary/Treasurer of the Board
SVP, Pinnacle Financial Partners

Mr. Herman Strickland is a senior vice president and senior credit officer for Pinnacle in Memphis. Prior to joining Pinnacle in 2015, Strickland spent 34 years at First Tennessee Bank, where he led the company’s Diversity Banking group. Prior roles at First Tennessee included serving as a corporate relationship manager, senior credit officer and manager of commercial banking. Strickland earned his bachelor’s degree in management from Arkansas State University and holds a master’s degree in finance from the University of Memphis. He is a graduate of the Darden School of Commercial Lending at the University of Virginia and is a former instructor at the Barret School of Banking. Strickland has been active in the Memphis community throughout his career and currently serves on the boards of the Memphis Urban League, Benjamin Hooks Institute and the Southwest Tennessee Community College and Arkansas State University foundations. He also serves on the boards of Community Lift, Communities Unlimited, Seedco, the Rise Foundation and Leadership Memphis.

Wayne Fawbush
Consultant

Wayne Fawbush served as a Program Officer with the Economic Opportunity and Assets Unit of the Ford Foundation for six years. His grant making concentrated on helping low-income families improve their livelihoods by creating wealth in their communities in ways that actually benefited them. Previously, he was executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund that helped communities and businesses in rural Vermont improve their economic base and sell forest and agriculture products into profitable, value-added markets. He served as Deputy for Program Operations for the Farmers Home Administration at the Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration.

Wayne served for 16 years as a representative and senator in the Oregon Legislature, concentrating on economic development in rural areas. He also owned and operated a pear and blueberry farm in Hood River, Oregon, for 20 years. Wayne was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, including a tour in Vietnam. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Oregon.

Billy Hix
Director, Office of Environmental Health and Engineering
Cherokee Nation

Mr. Hix has been employed with Cherokee Nation for nearly two decades. He graduated from Northeastern State University with a bachelor of science in Chemistry in 1996 and a master of science in Industrial Management in 2000. He is a Registered Sanitarian with the State of Oklahoma and the National Environmental Health Association and holds a Class B Water Operator and Water Laboratory licenses, as well as a Class C Wastewater license from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Mr. Hix works closely with many federal, state and local agencies to address water and sewer infrastructure needs in the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdictional area of northeast Oklahoma.

Max Sprinkle,
Attorney at Law,
Sprinkle Firm

Mr. Sprinkle has an extensive entrepreneurial background, as he has founded and operated several successful businesses. He also serves as a volunteer at Bowen Business Law Group, PLUS Program, Academic Success Program, Moot Court Board, Mock Trial Team as well as several others. He received a bachelor of science in Business Administration/Marketing from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.

Salomon Torres
Owner/Consultant, Soluciones Consulting

Mr. Torres’ story is one of family, hard work and success. He is the youngest of eight siblings and was raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where he migrated with his family picking seasonal crops from the canneries of Wisconsin to the fields of California. Mr. Torres currently provides government affairs and commercial development consulting services from his Harlingen, Texas, downtown office. Previously, he served three years as Executive Director of the San Benito (Texas) Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Torres served as district director in South Texas for Congressman Ruben Hinojosa for nine years and served three years on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and the House Small Business Committee.

Deborah “Debby” Warren
Principal, Debby Warren Consulting

Debby Warren has spent the past 30+ years promoting social and economic justice in the American South, mostly working in the non-profit sector, including serving as the first Executive Director of both the Southern Rural Development Initiative (SRDI) and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina (CRA-NC). She also served as Co-Director of the legal services entity that preceded the NC Justice Center. Ms. Warren also taught at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, developing new courses on Nonprofit Leadership and Community Philanthropy.

Donna Kay Yeargan
Principal, DKY Consulting

Donna Kay Yeargan is a native Arkansan born and reared in Howard County. She has been actively engaged in political and social issues throughout her life. Donna Kay lives in her state as many of us live in our communities. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, where she was a campus leader, she married and moved to Foreman, Arkansas, where she was involved in civic and church activities and became active in local, regional and state activities. During that time, Donna Kay earned a Masters Degree from East Texas State University, now affiliated with Texas A&M.

Donna Kay has served on the University of Arkansas Alumni Board of Directors and the Natural State Committee, and as Chairman of the State Parks Commission and the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, along with serving in a multitude of community and civic organizations. In 1999, Donna Kay joined newly-elected Blanche Lincoln as the Director of Economic Development. She held the post until 1997 when she was named State Director for Senator Lincoln, overseeing the state operations of Senator Lincoln’s offices in Arkansas. She continued in that post until January 2011.

Leadership

Ines Polonius
Chief Executive Officer

Ines Polonius is CEO of Communities Unlimited, Inc., a CDFI and community economic development organization in the rural South. Communities Unlimited (CU) works side by side with local leaders to create fair access to resources needed to sustain healthy communities, healthy businesses and healthy families. CU resides in the solutions space, providing direct assistance and capital to micro-enterprises, small businesses as well as water and wastewater systems in persistently poor rural places across Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

Ines earned an MBA and an MA in Economics from Boston University and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Today, Ines serves on the board of directors of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). She is a 2017 BALLE Fellow, an RWJF Interdisciplinary Research Leader, an active member of the Partners for Rural Transformation and the national WealthWorks network.