Excel by Eight (E8) has promoted Jessi Rice Woods to communities director. Rice Woods began working for E8 as a community consultant in January 2019, marking the beginning of the initiative’s shift from the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to its current model.

Jessi Rice Woods
Jessi Rice Woods

During her time with Excel by Eight, Rice Woods has supported policy and local planning work in Conway, Independence and Sevier counties as well as the city of Little Rock. As communities director, she will oversee planning and design in the aforementioned communities plus Jefferson and Union counties, working closely with local regional coordinators and steering committee members in each of E8’s six communities.

“Building local models for change is integral to E8’s mission to improve health and education outcomes for children prenatal through age eight,” said Angela Duran, executive director of Excel by Eight. “Jessi has been an invaluable part of our team, and we look forward to expanding her role to support all of our communities and build E8’s organizational capacity.”

Early in her career, Rice Woods led global learning and community development programs for Peacework, an international education nonprofit. She worked in health and educational institutions in Belize, India and Vietnam, where she honed her skills in program development, project management and impact evaluation. Rice Woods previously served in startup technology companies as an operations manager and communication consultant. She holds a Master of Public Service degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

About Excel by Eight
Excel by Eight is a collaborative effort of more than 30 partner organizations focused on increasing Arkansas children’s health and education outcomes. It is committed to strengthening resource grids statewide by building local models for change; identifying and resolving policy barriers; and enhancing public understanding of early childhood development.