Editor’s note: The following story appeared in the August 1 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then and Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
Peggy Boyles has been a fundraiser for numerous Northwest Arkansas organizations over the past 20 years, including the University of Arkansas and, most recently, for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
She joined the Bentonville museum in October as development officer and was promoted to senior development officer in February.
After learning about the job opening at the museum last year, she was unsure of her chances of landing the role among a large pool of applicants.
“I always wanted to work at Crystal Bridges. But it’s Crystal Bridges, so it’s like, ‘OK, you’re not going to get hired at Crystal Bridges.’ I’m sure the pool is just great,” she said. “But I was like, ‘OK, I might as well try.’ I tried and got the job. And I absolutely love it there.”
When the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named Boyles to its Forty Under 40 class in 2008, she was director of development in UA’s division of student affairs. She began working for the university while attending classes and started as a fundraiser in 2002.
Boyles, 53, pointed to where she started in her fundraising career as the highlight so far. During the university’s campaign for the twenty-first century, Boyles was critical to the Sam M. Walton College of Business’ success in raising over $223 million.
“It was a fun time,” she said. “The University of Arkansas has raised $1 billion in a fundraising campaign that was unheard of. This has never happened before in the state of Arkansas.”
In 2012, she left UA to become head of development at The New School in Fayetteville. She was looking for a change and opportunity led her to the new role.
“It was a new challenge to work with different families and constituents,” she said. “I had never worked in a private, independent school before, so it was a different opportunity and challenge for me.”
After her role on The New School, Boyles attended graduate school full-time. In 2015, she earned a Master of Arts in management and leadership from Webster University. The De Queen native previously earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from UA. While it’s not something she plans to start right away, she said she would like to earn a Ph.D.
After finishing graduate school, she had some savings and took time to travel and volunteer in the community.
Boyles is a board member for Outcomes Inc. and the Northwest Arkansas Dr. Council. Martin Luther King Jr. Over the past two years, the organization has helped with COVID-19 vaccinations and provided a volunteer food pantry that includes back-to-school activities. She is also a member of the Northwest Arkansas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
In 2018, she joined the Arkansas Support Network as director of development. A friend recommended him for the role after he started looking for work.
Boyles joked that savings don’t last forever.
“It was great while it lasted,” she said. “I had a great time.”
Before joining Crystal Bridges, she had received an announcement on social media about an opening there. She said Emily Ironside, who eventually hired her, had sent information about the job through LinkedIn. Ironside, head of philanthropic strategy, is a 2021 Forty Under 40 honoree.
In her current role, Boyles works as a fundraiser for the museum. The position includes donor cultivation and stewardship. She also supervises three development officers.
She stepped into her initial role at the museum about six months after it announced plans to increase its size by 50%, adding 100,000 square feet to the 200,000-square-foot building. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
She said the increase would lead to more officers, more exhibit space and more fundraising. Boyles said her goals are to expand the program and continue to make it more successful. She plans to work for the museum until she retires, which she joked will be in her 80s.
Boyles enjoys watching shows on the Investigation Discovery channel. She also likes to read. She and her daughter, Autumn Blakely, reside in Springdale.