News Release

Elevate Performance Names Recipients of the John Lewis Leadership Award

Three northwest Arkansas leaders receive award named for venerated Fayetteville leader


(November 14, 2017)—Elevate Performance, a Fayetteville, Arkansas-based company that brings together leaders in peer advisory forums has named three well-known Northwest Arkansas leaders as recipients of the inaugural John Lewis Leadership Award.   The award is named for the Fayetteville business leader who founded the Bank of Fayetteville, and was actively involved in community-building efforts until his passing in 2007.  


According to Tim McFarland, Chief Executive Officer of Elevate Performance, “John Lewis was an exemplary leader, a talented business person, a community builder and a mentor to many successful people.  He helped me found the first CEO Forum, and his influence still flourishes in what has grown to now five CEO Forums.  It’s an honor to create an award in his name, and all three of the inaugural recipients demonstrate the great qualities John shared with us.”

The recipients are:

Lowell Grisham

Lowell Grisham is retiring after having served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for twenty years.  As “CEO” of the church, he manages the business needs of one of Fayetteville’s most visible religious organizations, as well as the spiritual needs of a thriving congregation.  Under his leadership the church has been involved in compassionate outreach across region, including noteworthy efforts to assist homeless people, and women making the challenging transition from prison to productive life.


Alan Fortenberry

Alan Fortenberry, has been the CEO of Beaver Water District since 2001.   Under his leadership, the organization has grown to deliver almost nineteen billion gallons of water a year to municipalities across northwest Arkansas.  

Since being named as the CEO in 2001, capital improvements in excess of $125 million dollars have been accomplished, which has positioned the District to meet water needs in Northwest Arkansas for many years to come.  Alan has championed the protection of Beaver Lake throughout his tenure as CEO.  He established a separate Environmental Quality Department and encouraged the development of a Beaver Lake watershed protection strategy through the Northwest Arkansas Council, which resulted in the formation of the Beaver Watershed Alliance.  Quite possibly the most significant accomplishment with respect to the protection of Beaver Lake was the dedication of a specific revenue stream from the District’s wholesale water rate for the purpose of source water protection.  This dedicated fee of $0.04/1000 gallons of water sold has been recognized nationally by water industry trade groups as a benchmark for other water utilities to attain.


Joe Fennel

Joe Fennel has been instrumental in the development of Fayetteville’s culinary and hospitality scene as the founder of Jose’s restaurant, and the founder and current owner of Bordino’s.

Joe has consistently served on boards and commissions that have guided the transformation of Dickson Street from an area populated by seedy dives in the seventies into what is now the arts and entertainment epicenter of Northwest Arkansas.   His restaurants, first Jose’s, now Bordino’s, have been flagships for the Fayetteville culinary scene.  

Joe is also known for his staunch support of the sport of track and field.  Almost 30 years ago, recognizing that the Fayetteville High School track department desperately needed support, he and a partner created the Chili Pepper Cross Country run as a fundraiser.  The growth of that event has been phenomenal.  Today the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival is one of the premier running events in the country, this year hosting almost seven thousand runners, raising money for track programs in our region.