By Tim Taylor
Teresa Hudson, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an associate professor and director of the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Health Services Research, was among the guest speakers at the Heartland Summit, an assembly of some of the country’s top minds held Oct. 18-21 in Bentonville.
Sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation, the assembly was organized to bring together business and academic leaders to share ideas and discuss possible solutions for some of the biggest problems facing the nation’s central states.
Best-selling author Deepak Chopra, actress Jennifer Garner, former mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc., were among the presenters at the event, which was open only to those invited by the Walton Family Foundation. Some 350 entrepreneurs and academic specialists attended the summit, where they were given a taste of local cuisine, live music and contemporary art from a variety of artists and performers.
Hudson was part of a panel of experts on opioid abuse and the challenges facing smaller, more rural states struggling with the crisis of addiction. The discussion included presentations by former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Sandy Winnefeld and his wife, Mary, co-chairs of S.A.F.E. Project US (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic), a national non-profit committed to eradicating opioid addiction through research and awareness campaigns; Kyle Peterson of the Walton Family Foundation; Joy Sun of Groups, which provides addiction treatment in largely rural communities; and William Simpson, president of DisposeRX, a company offering solutions on the disposal of unused medications.
Many of the event’s presentations dealt with the use of natural resources, from rehabbing older buildings to unique uses of food and agriculture, to build up the economy in smaller communities. Hudson saw the summit as a great opportunity for innovative enterprises to identify the common issues facing the country’s heartland, 20 states including Arkansas in the center of the U.S.
“It was very uplifting to see so many young people wanting to invest in the heartland with creative solutions,” she said, noting that many of the attendees were in their 30s. “I found it very gratifying that there was so much interest in the heartland.”