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Board of Directors

The CSA Board is a distinguished group of individuals who love their community, care deeply about young people, and believe in the power of the arts to change lives and shape the next generation of leaders. 


Business executives, marketing designers, political representatives, educational advisers, and other influential community leaders have united to develop CSA into the premiere center for the visual and performing arts.


Their goal is for the school to serve as a role model for children and youth and provide opportunities for all young people to participate in the arts.

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Jeannie Cole graduated from Harding University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. She received further voice training from an opera singer while living in Naples, Italy. She sang soprano with the Fort Smith Chorale. From 1987 to 1992, she directed One-A-Chord, a ladies' gospel singing group. Since 2005 she has been singing with Praise & Harmony, an acapella gospel singing group.
Jeannie served as the Arkansas PTA President from 2001-2003. She was elected to the Fort Smith School Board of Education from 1997-2020, serving as Board President for several years. She is an alumna of Leadership Fort Smith and Arkansas Leadership Academy.
Jeannie has been a co-teacher of ladies’ Bible classes at West-Ark Church of Christ since 1987. For 20 years she and her husband, Dr. Michael Cole, led medical mission teams to South America and South Pacific islands. She has conducted children’s and ladies’ Bible classes in Italy, Guyana, Kiribati, Vanuatu, and Eswatini.
Jeannie is excited to combine her musical knowledge and educational leadership to continue guiding the Community School of the Arts in providing quality arts education.


BEN SHIPLEY | Vice Chair

Ben has an extensive background representing employers in a wide range of labor and employment law matters and related litigation. He has appeared before administrative agencies on behalf of employers on numerous occasions, including work before the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Arkansas Employment Security Division. He also represents clients in both state and federal court proceedings.

Ben has substantial experience with the federal and state statutes and regulations governing the employer-employee relationship. He has evaluated and addressed employer needs concerning a host of legal issues involving the workplace, from the drafting of employee handbooks to the management of complex, multi-party lawsuits. He has worked with employers in handling the all of the legal aspects of traditional labor-management relations, including union elections, contract negotiations, labor and employment-related arbitration, strikes, and litigation.  Ben has an active commercial litigation practice, and handles the preparation and trial of the full range of business and commercial disputes. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas.

Ben is actively involved in the Fort Smith community serving on such boards as The United Way of Sebastian County, Fort Smith Symphony, Leadership Fort Smith, Westark Area Counsel Boy Scouts of America, Salvation Army, and the Administrative Board of First United Methodist Church.

PEGGY WALTER | Secretary

Peggy is a retired elementary principal from the Fort Smith Public Schools where she served for 39 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Arkansas Tech University and a Masters in Education along with a Specialist in Educational Leadership from ATU. 


Peggy received the honor of National Distinguished Principal as well as Designated Master Principal.  She is a mentor at Fairview Elementary, a volunteer at Cook Elementary, and serves as a Substitute Principal in the Fort Smith Elementary Schools when called on.  She is a member of the Fort Smith Retired Teachers Association and serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Smith Public Schools Foundation.  Peggy is a member of Grace Community Church and part of the Children’s Ministry Team.

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Karen was raised in Petal, MS, graduated from Petal High School and attended the University of Southern Mississippi. She was Director of Kinder Care Learning Center in Hattiesburg and later owned her own preschool in Petal, MS.  She served as Health and Safety Chair and Treasurer of Arkansas PTA.

Karen and her husband are members of Wet Ark Church of Christ. They have three sons and 5 grandchildren.



Randy has been involved with music and the arts from an early age, making his debut singing on stage at the age of 4. He received his BME degree from Central Methodist College and his Master of Music degree in saxophone performance from North Texas State University where he studied with John Giordano. He has played and traveled professionally in bands, played in the 399th Army Band, and has worked extensively in the recording industry.  Randy and his father, Lowell, started the Fort Smith Jazz Ensemble which later became the Westark Jazz Band (now UAFS Jazz Band). He owned and operated Sigler Music, Elite Core Enterprises, Omega Sound Recording Studio, and 5 Star Video before retiring in 2017.


Randy has been a long-time member of Grand Avenue Baptist Church where he has been active in the music ministry, served as a deacon, and is currently on the Board of Overseers Finance Committee. Randy and his wife, Mary, have been married 55 years and have a daughter and son along with 4 grandchildren.


I could not agree more with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) statement: “Music education is a path to life-long learning and knowledge of self and culture. It supports healthy social development and the quality of a young person’s life, and it prepares young people for success in the 21st century workplace.”



Karen Slagle graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a minor in Economics. A member of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the The Momentary, Ms. Slagle devotes her time to several area charitable organizations. Early in her career and before returning home to Arkansas, Ms. Slagle was in the Communications and Press Office at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. and has also served as a panelist for the NEA.  She has been collecting art for many years. Ms. Slagle and her husband Roy enjoy traveling, playing golf, riding motorcycles and checking out the local food and art scene in the cities that they visit.  She finds great joy in spending time with her grandchildren, nieces and the rest of her family. 

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Melissa grew up in Paris, Arkansas.  She kept busy with a schedule of dancing, piano and baton twirling.  She was also a member of her Junior and Senior High band program where she played percussion and clarinet/bass clarinet. Melissa has had a passion for the arts her entire life. 

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Arkansas and was a majorette with the Razorback Marching Band.  After graduation, she took to the skies to satisfy an itch for travel as an American Airlines flight attendant where she would stay until early retirement eleven years later.  She and her husband, Henry, moved to Fort Smith in 1999. 

Since returning to Arkansas she has been involved in volunteering with the Junior League of Fort Smith, American Heart Association, Mercy Advisory board, First United Methodist Church youth group, Immaculate Conception/Fort Smith Public Schools and cooking at Hope Campus.  She is a group leader in the Bible Study Fellowship Women’s day group and recently took over as president of the River Valley Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Association.  She coached the Southside High School and Ramsey Junior High Majorettes for sixteen years and currently serves on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma.

Melissa and Henry have two children.  Isabella is a junior at the University of Arkansas where she is the Feature Twirler in the Razorback Marching Band.  Joseph is 16 and has taken percussion lessons at CSA for the past four years.  He was also in the CSA production of Clique last summer.  He’s an aspiring film maker and working toward his Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America.  

Melissa has personally seen what an impact the arts have made in her life as well as her children and believes in the CSA mission to develop confident leaders and outstanding citizens through educational and artistic excellence.

Founding Board Members

Dr. Rick Foti, Chair Emeritus

Robin Clegg

Wayne King

Robert Wight

Selena Bartmier

Jim Rowland

Mary Carleton Young

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