2020 Brown Award Winner: Danielle Duggan

Danielle Duggan

Danielle Duggan, recipient of the 2020 Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award at Arkansas Tech University, recognized from an early age that a desire to help others is only effective when paired with an action plan.

“A leader is someone who makes more leaders, and not someone who creates followers,” said Duggan. “A leader is a driving force for an issue or a problem that needs to be fixed. For me, that issue is food insecurity. Since the eighth grade, that’s what I’ve been passionate about.”

It’s a passion that was ignited when Duggan recognized a need among her peers.

“Some of my best friends confided in me that they were only able to eat when they were at school,” said Duggan. “If they had food at home, it was a mayonnaise sandwich. That really touched my heart because I’d never experienced that. I wanted to be able to help those who were going to bed hungry.”

Duggan took her case to Tyson Foods and obtained a donation of more than 1,000 pounds of chicken for the Mary and Martha Center in her hometown of De Queen. As result, her classmates facing food insecurity had access to much-needed protein.

“When we unloaded those tons and tons of boxes, all the kids were there helping unload and it filled up several commercial-sized freezers for that community,” said Duggan. “That was my very first experience of doing a large-scale donation, so that has really stuck with me…that feeling and the look on their faces.”

It was a pivotal moment for Duggan, who learned the value of partnerships and how to leverage those relationships for the benefit of others.

“Communication is key,” said Duggan. “You hear that a lot, but being open and honest about your needs to those larger corporations is where it starts. Corporations like Tyson Foods are able to provide and give back, but they have no idea you need it if you don’t ask. Being the liaison between the need and the provider has really opened my eyes to how important communication is.”

Duggan graduated from De Queen High School in 2016. Scholarship opportunities and the University Honors program drew her to enroll at ATU.

“The people I’ve met at Arkansas Tech have made it such an amazing experience,” said Duggan, who captured the 2019 Miss Texarkana Twin Rivers crown and was a candidate in the Miss Arkansas 2019 competition. “I’ve met some of my very best friends. I joined Zeta Tau Alpha, and that is an entire group of women with like ideals. We’re really created a close bond. From very close friends to staff and faculty, everything about Arkansas Tech has been above and beyond what I could have expected going into college.”

Duggan applied her skills in collaboration and communication to benefit the ATU community during her senior year. After being nominated based upon her work to combat food security through the Miss Arkansas organization, she was one of 21 individuals from around the United States selected as a 2019 Tyson Foods Hunger Hero.

As result of that honor, Duggan had the opportunity to select a hunger relief organization to receive a $2,500 grant from Tyson. She chose the Green and Gold Cupboard, a food pantry that serves students, faculty, staff and retirees in need at Arkansas Tech.

In addition, Duggan was integral in obtaining a donation of 9,800 pounds of Tyson Foods chicken to the Green and Gold Cupboard during fall 2019.

Over the course of her four years at ATU, Duggan also rendered volunteer service on behalf of the Russellville Animal Shelter, the Wesley Foundation Age to Age program, the ATU Student Government Association, the ATU Presidential Leadership Cabinet, V College Ministries and her sorority.

Duggan is graduating from Arkansas Tech in spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. Her major field of study was management and marketing. She will begin work this summer as a campus recruiter for Northwestern Mutual.

“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people this award could have gone to,” said Duggan when asked about the Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award. “Just to be nominated and even be considered…I can’t put into words how thankful and blessed it makes me feel. My dad always told me to be aware of my surroundings, and I think that’s what it takes to be a good servant of others. You don’t have to do anything on a large scale. You just have to be aware of where the need is and fill the gap.”