Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, Leadership Development & Strategic Supports

Light Bulb GraphicSince the fall of 2019, the IDEALS Institute at the University of Arkansas has served as a hub of training, research and support for diversity and inclusion efforts across the state.

Studies show that diversity and inclusion drive positive outcomes for our campus and region by attracting talent, encouraging innovation and fostering growth. As one of the largest employers in the state with a robust research and scholarship capacity, the University of Arkansas serves as a unique conduit for government agencies, community groups, philanthropic organizations, businesses, public schools and fellow higher education institutions to receive support, expertise and training in best diversity and inclusion practices offered by the new Institute.

Supported in part by grant and philanthropic support and revenue generated from its services, IDEALS  began offering courses and trainings in the fall of 2019. To learn more or to inquire about customized trainings for your organization or company, please contact executive director Elecia Smith.

Meet the Team

Elecia C. Smith

Elecia C. Smith, Ed.D., PHR, SHRM-CP
Executive Director

Dr. Smith is the Executive Director for the IDEALS Institute at the University of Arkansas which provides transformational Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) education, research, leadership, outreach and support for individuals, organizations, and communities. In addition to her DEI knowledge, Elecia has expertise in human resources, workforce development education, strategic planning, administration, and organizational development. Dr. Smith earned her Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University, and her Masters in Educational Technology and Doctorate in Human Resources and Workforce Development Education from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

Dr. Rickey Booker

Dr. Rickey Booker, Ed.D.
Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant

Read more about Rickey

Dr. Rickey Booker is a native of Warren, AR. In 2004, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arkansas-Monticello in Health and Physical Education with an emphasis on Wellness Leadership. He obtained his Master of Education in 2006 and Doctorate in Workforce Development Education in 2011 from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

Dr. Booker has worked in higher education for 14 years. He most recently worked as the Director of Career Programs for the University Career Development Center at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

Magdalena Arroyo

Magdalena Arroyo
Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant

Read more about Magdalena

Magdalena Arroyo is a Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant for the IDEALS Institute. She brings years of experience as the Latinx Outreach Coordinator and Safe Zone Student Coordinator for the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education, where she empowered students through cultural awareness and education. As a University of Arkansas Alumnus, she holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Anthropology, Latin American Studies and Spanish. As a child of Mexican immigrants and a resident of NWA for more than two decades, she knows how important cultural competency and diversity awareness is when trying to create a safe and welcoming community. And as a recipient of such hospitality, she hopes to pay it forward.

Anne Shelley

Anne Shelley
Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant

Anne Shelley is a is a Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant for the IDEALS Institute and has facilitated DEI trainings and critical conversations in Arkansas for 20 years. Most recently she served as a contract trainer for the UofA Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources Department for which she provided Diversity Certification trainings. She has been a leader in nonprofit and social justice work in Arkansas, most recently as Executive Director of the NWA Center for Sexual Assault. Anne is the former director of Just Communities of NWA whose mission was to fight bias and racism through education. She currently serves on the DEI Advisory Council for the TRUE initiative in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. Marcia A. Shobe

Dr. Marcia A. Shobe
Director of Research

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Dr. Shobe has focused her work on community economic development; diversity, equity and inclusion; and health disparities research. She has led interdisciplinary teams to support research projects of critical relevance to national and international policy development in relation to anti-poverty initiatives to support post-secondary education and other poverty-reduction practices for low-income, traditionally under-represented minorities. Shobe has served as PI, Co-PI, and Co-I on interdisciplinary federal and foundation grants in the past 15 years, collaborating with education, nursing, epidemiology, biology, and health administration researchers, practitioners, and administrators. She currently serves as PI ($1.8 million) for the DHHS/HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant (2017-2021), designed to educate and train graduate social work students and practitioners on best practices for integrated behavioral health practice. Shobe and Yvette Murphy-Erby are Co-PIs on a two-year grant designed to support asset development through homeownership, small business development and post-secondary education for Marshallese adults. She was previously PI/Co-PI for an 8-year evaluative grant ($1,295,000) funded by the Ford Foundation and designed to support college education savings for low-income Latino, African American, Native American, and non-Hispanic white populations in New Mexico and Arkansas. In addition, I have served as PI or Co-PI on additional grants (≥$600,000) related to youth and adult college savings programs in Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. Dr. Shobe has two years of experience as a French and English high school teacher; two years of experience with substance abuse education; research and practice experience with mental health; and has some proficiency in Spanish.