PROFILE: Sonja Yates Hubbard

Sonja Yates Hubbard
Chief Executive Officer
E-Z Mart Stores, Inc.
1991 Graduate of Leadership Texarkana

Sonja Hubbard is a Certified Public Accountant who received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. 
Sonja is the Chief Executive Officer for E-Z Mart Stores, Inc. and has served in this position since 1998 working for E-Z Mart nearly three decades post college graduation.  This time doesn’t include high school and college summer work stints.  During this tenure with E-Z Mart she has served in a variety of positions, including Receptionist, Copy Clerk, Analysis, Assistant Controller and Chief Financial Officer before assuming her current role.  Before beginning her career at E-Z Mart, Sonja worked in public accounting where she performed audit, tax and bookkeeping services for a two local firms.

Sonja was named the 1999 Outstanding CPA in Business & Industry by the Arkansas Society of CPA’s, the 2009 Accountant of the Year in Industry/Government by the University of Arkansas, was recognized as a Woman of Influence in the Food Industry by the Griffin Report, received the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Hero Award for Leadership and was inducted into CSN’s Convenience Store Hall of Fame in 2010.

Sonja has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis after serving as a Director and President of the Little Rock Branch of the Bank. In 2009-2010 she served as Chairman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, an organization that represents the nation’s 152,000 stores and its members.  She was the first woman and first legacy, following her father’s footsteps, to serve in this capacity.  She currently serves on the NACSPAC and NACS-United Fresh Task Force for the same association.  Sonja is also a director for Opportunities, Inc., Christus St. Michael Hospital, Arkansas Research Alliance, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation, Arkansas Aviation Alliance, Texas A&M Texarkana Foundation, University of Arkansas Accounting Advisory Board and is the Immediate Past President of the Texarkana Country Club.

Sonja shared her perspectives on Leadership Texarkana and Texarkana, USA: 

What have you learned most about making a difference in Texarkana (or about your opportunity for community leadership) from being a part of Leadership Texarkana?
Learning about the history, unique circumstances and complexities of our governments, our people, its natural resources and other attributes of Texarkana that I became more aware of from my involvement in LT expanded my pride in the community.  I am more interested, invested and involved.  

What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is a responsibility.  Assuming the responsibility to lead means an individual must empower and inspire others to work for a common goal.

For what community organization or issue or opportunity do you have a passion and invest your time, talent or money?
I am passionate about many causes and personally and corporately volunteer and contribute to a diverse list of causes. One cause we focus on is breast cancer.  My great grandmother and grandmother were both stricken with breast cancer so our company and family became very involved with Race for the Cure when it was first established in Texarkana. It has been heartwarming to see the community embrace and support the cause and help so many people.  We are proud of the involvement in this and many other community causes and needs. 

If you had one wish and could make a difference of significance in Texarkana (your small corner) what would you do with that one wish and why?
I wish we could operate as one city. I love the border city uniqueness of Texarkana but often we seem to fight amongst ourselves, make divisive decisions and waste precious tax dollars because of the state line.  Some of this is unavoidable but in many other efforts it would be my wish that we could make the best decisions for the overall community.

What do many people not know about you that you would to share with us?   What are some of your passions and hobbies?  
I love art and enjoy painting, sketching and even have worked in clay and mosaic.  I've attended a weekly art class with Dean Lynn for thirty years.  I also love to cook and entertain.... I enjoy people and getting together with friends.

What do you most love to do in Texarkana?   
I most love getting out.  Whether with friends or just meeting up with unexpected friends around town when you are out, I love that Texarkana is a place where 'everyone knows your name'. 

What do you most love about Texarkana, in general?
We are just the almost right size... We have we are a small town as for our community and people but a bigger city with growing food and entertainment options.  The location of Texarkana gives us all the options.  We are close to lakes, rivers and outdoor activities and just space but also close to big cities for dining, shopping and travel.  

Sonja has been married to her husband and E-Z Mart’s Chief Operating Officer, Bob Hubbard, since 1981 and they have one daughter, Lauren, who lives in New York City working in the publishing business.   

E-Z Mart Stores, Inc. is a Texarkana based chain of nearly 300 operating locations in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.  The company was founded in 1970 by Jim Yates, Sonja’s father, with the first location in Nashville, AR.  The company was recognized in 2001 by the University of Arkansas’ Walton College as a Business Giant, has been listed in the Fortune 500’s Largest Privately Held Businesses, ranked in Working Woman’s Top 500 Women-Owned Businesses and is annually positioned in the Top Ten of Arkansas’ Largest Privately Held Companies listed by Arkansas Business.  E-Z Mart remains family owned and operated and is amongst the largest privately held convenience store chains in America. 


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