The ALS Association – Arkansas Chapter Inc. announced that J. Thomas “Tommy” May has joined The ALS Association National Board of Trustees.


May is chairman of the Simmons First Foundation and former chairman and chief executive officer of Simmons First National Corp. He became an ALS board member April 11, according to a news release.


“May is a military veteran and respected Arkansas business leader who has been living with ALS since 2005,” according to the release. “May is a huge advocate and champion for people living with ALS in Arkansas. He has been a part of the Arkansas Chapter from the very beginning.”


May earned his bachelor’s degree and his Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Arkansas.


“His then 47-year career in banking began in New Orleans and eventually led him to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where his team grew Simmons Bank from a statewide bank to a regional powerhouse in the banking industry,” according to the release.


A member of the University of Arkansas Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee, May is also on the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, Arkansas Research Alliance Board and the Arkansas Executive Forum.


Previously, he served as chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association and on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees for 10 years, including as chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees from 2002-2003.


His honors include the James E. Harris Nonprofit Leadership Award, Sidney M. Brooks Fellow Award, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch Children’s Award, Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor’s Award, University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business Lifetime Achievement Award, and the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Medal.


May has been on several boards, including the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and has dedicated his time to many organizations, including the Boys Club of America and Habitat for Humanity.


May credits his wife, Kathryn, along with other family, friends and the Simmons employees and staff for providing the support he needed to get his life on course after his diagnosis of ALS in 2005, according to the release.


In 2008, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences dedicated the J. Thomas May Center for ALS Research.


“ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Over the course of the disease, people lose the ability to move, to speak, and eventually, to breathe,” according to the release. “The ALS Association is the largest private funder of ALS research in the world.