Denise Thomas


CEO of the World Trade Center Arkansas


A respected business strategist both in Arkansas and across the globe, Denise Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in international trade.


She has built a career connecting people and products through bilateral partnerships that focus on ethical sourcing and sustainability.


Denise is passionate about helping small businesses grow and access the global marketplace, and she uses her expansive network to empower professionals with the tools they need to increase clientele and connect with the right partners.


A 14-year veteran of the World Trade Center Arkansas, Denise most recently

served as the Center’s director of Africa, European and Middle East trade. But her career in economic development began in Florida, where she joined the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce in 1998. There she created a small business center with the U.S. Small Business Administration to house several chambers and centers under one roof. The location became a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.


A California native, Denise has made her home in Northwest Arkansas since 2003, when she joined Walmart as a recruiter. She worked with the world’s largest retailer to build strategic teams in diverse markets, both domestically and internationally.


Eager to share her talents and resources, Denise works to empower the next generation of Arkansas leaders by encouraging them to live complete, rich, harmonious, love-filled lives.