ROBIN WALLIS ATKINSON
Robin Wallis Atkinson is the CEO and Creative Director of NWA Fashion Week as well as the CEO of the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum. Her professional career as a curator and arts organizer got its start here in Northwest Arkansas in the early 2000s. One of the founding members of Art Amiss Inc., Atkinson has been an active participant in the Northwest Arkansas art community for more than a decade. Atkinson has lived and worked in New Orleans, New York, and The Netherlands. She has contributed to international arts exhibitions such a Prospect New Orleans, the ground-breaking contemporary art biennial that opened in 2008, collaborated with museums and galleries across Europe and in Asia, and has taught curatorial curriculum at the early college level in Manhattan. Her work is focused on the role of arts in the community and arts relationship to place. In addition to curatorial work, Atkinson also serves selectively as an art consultant for private collections, as well as for non-profit organizations on the topics of community development, cultural programming, and non-profit finance management. She holds BA in Art History from the University of Arkansas and a Masters of Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York.
Director of Sewing Operations
Abwe Abedi moved to Northwest Arkansas on May 8, 2018. He is a survivor of his original country, Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1996, he fled to a refugee camp in Tanzania where he was for 22 years. Abwe graduated with a degree in Church’s Leadership and Growing at Colorado AFMIN Leadership Institute while he was at Nyaruguse Refugee Camp in Tanzania on June 4, 2019. He is the founder of Grace Church and Of Grace (Groupe de Réflexion et d’Actions Communautaires d’Epanoruissement), a development initiative in that refugee camp. They worship, teach English as a Second Language (ESL), and sewing practice.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Abwe’s previous employer reduced his hours, but he (Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10) got grace to recover a full-time contract job with Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum in April 2020 to share the sewing skills he has acquired over 25 years to sew masks to donate to prevent the community spread of COVID-19. On May 29, 2020 Abwe became Director of Sewing Operations as an employee of AAFF. That did he rejoice in. Psalm 46:1
Director of Public Relations
DJ Adams is the Director of Public Relations for the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum. They attended the University of Arkansas, where they obtained their bachelor’s degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development. Along with this, DJ received a minor in Agricultural Communications. DJ started their own creative agency eight years ago, where the focus lies heavily on portrait photography and social media management. After becoming a Social Media Marketing Specialist for the University of Arkansas’ Razorback Apparel Shops and Bookstore locations in 2017, they were promoted to Interim Marketing Director in January 2018. Working as a marketing director is what catapulted them into taking their creative agency on full time and adding marketing operations to their creative agency’s available services as well. In February 2019 they were contracted by the Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum to become the forum’s new Marketing Director. Four months later DJ was promoted to Director of Public Relations. When DJ isn’t wearing the marketing hat, they are working as an advocate for representation and self-love: two things they hold in high regard. They plan on creating their own media platform one day that will introduce more conversation around the topics of healing and representation.
Director of Special Initiatives
Katie Marquess is an experienced Art Director and Graphic Designer with a demonstrated history of working in the apparel and fashion industry. She has brought her expertise in marketing, fashion, and design to the AAFF team as the Director of Special Initiatives. She began her career in AR after graduating with her BA focused on Graphic Design, with a Minor in Art History from Missouri State University. Marquess has spearheaded many branded campaigns for entities such as Culture Flock, Lauren James, One Country, Arkansas Children’s as well as many other local businesses throughout NWA. Marquess has a passion for conceptualizing photoshoots and marketing, and a heart for people and her community. She wants to continue to push the boundaries of art, fashion, and design.
Director of Development
Meagan Zavala was born and raised in Massachusetts, moved to New York City where she attended and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. After graduating, Zavala went on to work in marketing roles at the corporate office for women’s and men’s fashion brands – Milly by Michelle Smith and Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing to name a few. During her time with these companies, she worked on all aspects of marketing from ad campaign planning to retail marketing strategy. At Hickey Freeman, Zavala managed photo shoots, worked to enhance our DTC business through email marketing, and in-store event planning. She supervised their philanthropic program – “Heroes & Leaders” – which provided hundreds of tailor-made suits to veterans. After moving to Bentonville, Arkansas with her husband about a year and a half ago – Zavala started a small personal styling and shopping business and simultaneously started getting involved in the local art and fashion scene in Northwest Arkansas. In August 2019, she joined the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum team as Director of Development. Since joining, Zavala has raised approximately $23,000 through planning and executing fundraisers, community activations and small grants. Since joining the team, she has been involved in creating the dialogue and programing around enhancing and growing the local fashion landscape.
Director of Programming
Rachel Woody-Pumford is the Director of Programming for the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum. She moved to Arkansas from the Dallas-area to attend the University of Arkansas where she graduated in 2015 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Woody-Pumford began volunteering with Arkansas Fashion Week in May 2017 while looking for a creative outlet to utilize her administrative skills with her love of fashion and working with the community. She became the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum’s first full-time employee in August 2018 as the Executive Assistant and transitioned to the Educational Program Coordinator in May 2019. In this role, she helped develop AAFF’s Educational Pilot Program and continues to expand educational workshops and mentorship opportunities for Arkansas-based creatives.