Arkadelphia native and cancer survivor gives back to her hometown
By KELLY STILES | The Arkadelphian
Ashlee Vaughan, 41, is an Arkadelphia native whose mission is to make her hometown a better place. As Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance (AREDA) manager, Vaughan plays a major role in facilitating a plethora of events and business acquisitions of Arkadelphia, including the advent of the Hostess Brands bakery arriving in the near future, which will supply 150 jobs to the community.
“I was born and raised right here in Arkadelphia, Arkansas,” Vaughan said. “I bleed Badger blue.”
Vaughan and her brother were raised by Bob and June Anthony who have lived in Arkadelphia for about 50 years. Bob is retired from a career as a banker and June works as the secretary treasurer for the W.P. Sturgis Foundation, which provides assistance for individuals to go to college. Vaughan has always been inspired by her parents, noting her father’s Christ-like leadership and determination for success in all aspects of life.
“My childhood was magical, honestly almost storybook-like,” Vaughan said. “My parents raised my brother and I in a neighborhood with friends who were like family, and still are today.”
After graduating from Arkadelphia High School, Vaughan completed her freshman year of college at Ouachita Baptist University, then transferred to Henderson State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in political science. She went on to earn a master’s degree in social sciences from HSU where she participated in a grad assistantship.
“Never base your confidence on any outside validation or opinion.”— Ashlee Vaughan
The completion of her higher education journey prompted Vaughan to move to Hot Springs to gain experience to could bring back to the town she loves. She started her career in sales at Alltel Wireless, then moved onto pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales.
“Now I get to sell my community,” Vaughan said.
A cancer diagnosis in 2012 completely changed Vaughan’s outlook on life for the better. She believes it made her a better Christian, mother, wife, daughter, and friend. The disease has since left her, and shows no signs of returning.
“I’m here for a reason,” Vaughan said.
In 2013, the CEO of AREDA contacted Vaughan about an open position involving running events for the Arkadelphia community. She gladly accepted the offer and moved back to her hometown.
Vaughan’s regular responsibilities include creating requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs), facilitating community events such as legislative gatherings, corresponding with the Arkadelphia Quorum Court and others, and preparing for board meetings.
“Being in a very political position, you have to stay true to your heart, your values, your integrity,” Ashlee said.
The nature of working in business acquisition is often secretive, as the leaking of information can often cause a deal built on trust to crumble.
“My dream is for there to be big opportunities for my children to be able to stay in Arkadelphia for their adult life if they wish,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan is married to Andy Vaughan, government accounts manager for Verizon Wireless. They have two daughters, a 12-year-old named Carsyn and a 5-year-old named Cannyn.
“Being a mother is my biggest dream, and I’m living it,” Vaughan said.
She is a member of the Arkadelphia Noon Rotary Club and attends Third Street Baptist Church in Arkadelphia. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and dear friends, running, working out at A-Town Fitness, and shopping.
Among the women who have inspired Vaughan throughout her life are her mother, her late grandmother, her daughters, and her dear friends Gina White of White Law Firm, Kristin Goza of Bunn Properties, and former vice president of the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce Nikki Chandler.
“You get out of something exactly what you put into it,” Ashlee said. “Those are words my grandmother taught me.”