Denise Thomas has been named CEO of World Trade Center Arkansas and is the first Black woman to earn the chief executive officer rank of a World Trade Center in the United States, according to a Monday release.
Thomas has been with the Rogers-based center for 14 years and most recently served as trade director overseeing activities in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. She is taking over for W. Dan Hendrix, who retired in June. Hendrix was the Arkansas center's first CEO.
"I have big shoes to fill. Dan worked hard to lay an incredible foundation," Thomas said in a statement. "The center has helped enhance opportunities for bilateral trade with Arkansas businesses. I'm optimistic about the future role that the Natural State and the center will play on the global stage."
Arkansas exports in 2019 made up $6.2 billion in trade while supporting more than 25% of the state's workforce, according to data compiled by the center.
A California native, Thomas started her economic development career in 1998 in Florida at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.