Letter from Sonia

Dear Ward 1 Voter,


Thank you for taking the time to learn about your candidate. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.

I was born in Bryan, Texas in 1974, while my father completed his studies at Texas A&M. I grew up in Gravel Ridge in Central Arkansas where my father was stationed at the North Little Rock Airport as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service and my mother began her 30 years with Pulaski County School District serving breakfast and lunch in several public schools. Before that our family had been stationed in Slidell, Louisiana and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where in both places I developed my love of Cajun and Island culture, food and people.

In 1992, I chose to attend the University of Arkansas, over an out-of-state design school, because I was awarded a full 4-year scholarship and wanted access to broader education options. I fell in love with Fayetteville when my father brought me for a college visit in the fall of 1991, and I was standing on the Old Main lawn, with the hustle of students, and a crisp, mountain air breeze blew through the golden autumn leaves. At that moment, I fell under the spell of Fayetteville.

I completed my bachelor of science in microbiology in 1996. In 1995, I was awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad where I studied Castilian Spanish in Madrid and graphic design and art history in Salamanca at the Universidad de Salamanca.

I traveled across Spain, France, Portugal and Italy and represented my North Little Rock Rotary by sharing presentations on the people and economy of Arkansas.

By 1998, I completed my bachelors of arts with an emphasis in graphic design, while I worked full-time as a Quality Assurance Manager over all three shifts at the two Tyson Mexican Original plants in South Fayetteville.

By 2000, I realized that I had a passion for teaching and earned my master of fine art in design and technology from Parsons School of Design from New School University in New York, New York by 2002.

In 2003, I returned to Fayetteville bringing my dream of building the first School of Design to Arkansas. I founded New Design School in South Fayetteville with the help of family and friends in 2006.

In 2009, when the economy took a downturn, Mayor Lioneld Jordan asked me to lead the Creative Economy Action Group in Fayetteville after holding several forums where residents were invited to share their dreams for Fayetteville.

This involvement with city and citizens was the seed for my interest in local government.

Today, I practice web and graphic design as the CEO and founder of NDS Press and Atelier NDS, and mentor students as an educator and founder of New Design School.

At my heart, I am an educator, artist, designer—an idea generator and a problem-solver bringing creativity and a fresh perspective to to the table.

South Fayetteville has a very special place in my heart since it is where I came to college, got my first job, and was home to the location of my first business. I’ve seen it grow over the the last 26 years.

Photo by  Kat Wilson

Photo by Kat Wilson

I encourage small affordable homes, discourage development that does not fit in neighborhoods, and support sensible solutions for traffic congestion and crossing.

Today, it is growing at a rapid pace presenting challenges for housing, neighborhoods, and traffic. I encourage small affordable homes, discourage development that does not fit in neighborhoods, and support sensible solutions for traffic congestion and crossing.

I am energized to serve Fayetteville, a city that I have grown to love so deeply over the past 26 years. There is no other place in the world that I would call home. I want to continue to make it a place that others love to visit and call home.


Sonia Gutierrez
Candidate, Fayetteville City Council, Ward 1, Position 1

View Sonia’s resume on LinkedIn.



  • Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, with an emphasis in Immunology & Virology, University of Arkansas, 1996

  • Bachelor of Art in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Drawing, University of Arkansas, 1998

  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Universidad de Salamanca, with an emphasis in Art History, Figure Drawing and Graphic Design, 1997

  • Master of Fine Art, Design & Technology with an emphasis in Educational Installation, New Media and Sound Design, Parsons School of Design, 2002


  • Facilitator & artist, Artist Inc., Arts Center of the Ozarks, 2016 to present

  • Founder, educator, New Design School, 2006 to present

  • CEO & founder, Atelier NDS with clients of Beaver Water District, Audubon Arkansas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

  • CEO & founder, NDS Press

  • Adjunct Faculty, University of Arkansas, 2004–2008

  • Assistant Professor, Northwest Arkansas Community College, 2005–2007

  • Production Artist, Saatchi & Saatchi X, 2003–2005

  • Art Director, Integrity Marketing,1998–2000

  • Quality Assurance Supervisor, Tyson Foods, Inc, 1996–1997

  • Certified Nursing Assistant, North Hills Life Care and Rehab, 1994


  • Professional Advisory Board, University of Arkansas, School of Architecture

  • Governor’s Arts Awards Committee, Arkansas Arts Council

  • Fayetteville Forward Economic Accountability Council (FFEAC)

  • Chair, FFEAC Creative Economy Action Group

  • Board of Directors, Fayetteville Downtown Partners

  • For Fayetteville, Civil Rights Campaign

  • Fayetteville Art Festival Committee

  • Last Night Fayetteville

  • Ozark Literacy Council

  • Girl Scouts of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma


  • Border Cantos, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art Advisory Council