Maya Angelou was an internationally renowned bestselling author, poet, actor, and performer, as well as a pioneering activist for the rights of African Americans and of women. Her first published book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), was an autobiographical account of her childhood, including the ten years she lived in Stamps (Lafayette County) with her grandmother. The popular and critical success of the book was the foundation of her career as an author and public figure, as well as the basis of her identification as an Arkansas author. She was in the first group of inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1993. She held over fifty honorary university degrees, along with many other awards recognizing her accomplishments in the arts and her service to human rights.
Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bailey Johnson, who was a naval dietitian, and Vivian Baxter Johnson, who was a nurse. Angelou had one sibling, her older brother Bailey Jr.; he called her "Maya," his version of "my sister."
After the divorce of their parents in 1931, Marguerite and Bailey Jr. were sent to Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson, and their uncle, Willie, in Stamps. Henderson owned the only grocery store in the small town and reared the children according to the strict Christian values common in the rural South at that time. The family encountered the racial prejudice of the white customers in the store and of the community leaders generally. In her autobiography, Angelou recounted chafing at the attitudes she encountered of people who seemed to condone the limited opportunities available for black high school graduates of the time. Later, Angelou suggested that her faith and Christian beliefs—as well as her strong sense of fair play and realization of her own and others' inner beauty—stemmed from these early experiences.
In 1935, the children were returned to the care of their mother in St. Louis but were sent back to Stamps after it was discovered that Marguerite had been sexually molested by her mother’s boyfriend. The man was tried and convicted but then released; he was found dead soon after. The eight-year-old girl felt guilty and believed that her voice had caused the death of the rapist, so she became mute and remained so for several years.
The two children once again moved to be with their mother—this time to San Francisco, California. After dropping out of high school, Marguerite was briefly employed as a cable car conductor, the first black person ever to hold that position. She returned to Mission High School and earned a scholarship to study dance, drama, and music at San Francisco’s Labor School, where she also learned about the progressive ideologies that may have served as a foundation for her later social and political activism. In 1944, three weeks after graduation, she gave birth to her son, Claude (who later changed his name to Guy). She had no further formal education.
At the age of twenty-one, she married a Greek sailor, Tosh Angelos. Before they divorced in 1952, when she was singing at the Purple Onion nightclub in San Francisco, she created her professional name by combining a variation of his surname with her brother’s nickname for her, Maya. Eventually, she legally changed her name to Maya Angelou.
In 1954–55, she toured Europe and Africa in a State Department–sponsored production of the opera Porgy and Bess. In 1955, she moved with her son to New York City, where she studied modern dance with Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey. She appeared in television shows and released an album called Miss Calypso in 1957, also appearing in the film Calypso Heat Wave the same year. A composer of poems and song lyrics since her teen years, she continued to develop her writing skills.
She met prominent members of the African-American creative community and performed in Jean Genet’s The Blacks. With Godfrey Cambridge she produced Cabaret for Freedom, a fundraiser for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Martin Luther King Jr., a leader in SCLC, recruited Angelou as its northern coordinator in 1960.
In the early 1960s, she met South African freedom fighter and civil rights advocate Vusumzi Make, a leader of the Pan Africanist Congress who was then living in New York City. They moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she became editor of the weekly newspaper the Arab Observer. In 1963, she and her son left Egypt for Ghana, where she met Malcolm X. She became an assistant administrator at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama and later a feature editor for the African Review, as well as a feature writer for the Ghanaian Times and the Ghanaian Broadcasting Company, where she also recorded public service announcements.
Upon returning to the United States, Angelou rejoined the civil rights movement, working with Malcolm X in the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, and King was assassinated in 1968—on April 4, Angelou's birthday.
In reaction to these events, Angelou—encouraged by novelist James Baldwin—began writing the first installment of her life story, including an account of her years in Arkansas. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was first published in 1970 and has since been translated into more than ten languages. Her experiences in the civil rights movement were a focus of a later autobiography, The Heart of a Woman (1981). Enjoying her burgeoning career as a writer, lecturer, and public personality following the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she wrote the screenplay for Georgia, Georgia, a Swedish-American film; it was the first screenplay by an African American to be filmed. A collection of her poems, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1972.
Winning much critical acclaim and becoming a national figure who was always in demand for public appearances, she continued to maintain her political activism. The running themes in all of her works, both about herself and about the world, deal with the individual’s wish and right to survive in a non-hostile world. Believing that hatred and racism destroy that which is good and basic in humankind, she struggled to provide simple, down-to-earth solutions to the problems that threaten the world.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed her to the Bicentennial Commission. In 1981, she received a lifetime appointment to the Reynolds Chair of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, she read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. She read her poem "A Brave and Startling Truth" at the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations and "From a Black Woman to a Black Man" at the Million Man March in 1995.
Angelou had a distinctive and compelling speaking voice, and, at six feet tall, a powerful physical presence enhanced by her training in dance and stage performance. Angelou was nominated for a 1977 Emmy Award for her portrayal of Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in Alex Haley’s television miniseries Roots. Angelou appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and the Tavis Smiley Show. She also started a Hallmark greeting cards line called Life Mosaic. The movie Poetic Justice (1993) featured poetry written by Angelou and performed by Janet Jackson. In 1998, she made her film directing debut with Down in the Delta (1998). In 2006, she had a starring role in Tyler Perry's Medea's Family Reunion. In 2002, she won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for A Song Flung Up to Heaven.
Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000. On February 15, 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. In 2013, she received the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation and the Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Norman Mailer Center.
Her body of published works includes autobiographies, numerous poetry collections, a book of essays, several plays, a screenplay, and a cookbook. Among her many works are Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes (2004), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013).
After a period of ill health, Angelou was found dead by her caretaker on May 28, 2014, in North Carolina. In June 2014, the town of Stamps renamed its only park in her honor. On April 7, 2015, the U.S. Postal Service released a stamp in honor of Angelou. In March 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to rename a post office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after Angelou.
(Courtesy of: Encyclopedia of Arkansas, CALS)
(Images courtesy of: Persistence of the Spirit collection, PS14_08: Maya Angelou on January 23, 1983. PS24_06: a negative of Maya Angelou, Arkansas State Archives)
Bernice Jones was born October 31, 1905 in Springdale, AR. She attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville from 1924-1928, and taught school at Harmon and Oak Grove Schools from 1926-1931. In 1938 she married Harvey Jones, at which time they set out to continue to build the Jones Truck Line, which eventually became the nation’s largest privately-owned carrier by the time it was sold in 1980. In the early years (1952), Harvey and Bernice and others, founded Northwest Medical Center and Hospital in Springdale, which over the years grew into a multi-million dollar facility. Both Bernice and Harvey’s continued service on the Board spanned 51 years, from 1952-2003. In 1968, they established Har-Ber Village Museum, a large antique village on the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees in Grove, OK that consisted of over 100 independent buildings. Free of charge, they welcomed over 600,000 visitors/yr from all 48 states and many overseas countries. After Harvey passed in 1980, Bernice dedicated her philanthropic energy to help advance private giving throughout Arkansas. Examples include the establishment of the Harvey and Bernice Jones Center for Families in Springdale, dedicated to strengthening the family. This center of over 245,000 sq ft on 38 acres, contains multiple classrooms, conference centers, several indoor and outdoor recreation facilities to include two swimming pools, ice skating rink and a full size gymnasium. Also on this campus, the old truck line maintenance shop was renovated for offices for 34 community charitable agencies.
Her major awards include the first Arkansan to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal for exemplary deeds of service to her fellow citizens, presented by President Bill Clinton.
Bernice Jones was not only a major philanthropic leader in Arkansas, but through her example, established a legacy that has yet to be surpassed.
Elsijane Trimble Roy was Arkansas’s first woman circuit judge, the first woman on the Arkansas Supreme Court, the first woman appointed to an Arkansas federal judgeship, the first woman federal judge in the Eighth Circuit, and the first Arkansas woman to follow her father as a federal judge.
Born on April 2, 1916, in Lonoke (Lonoke County), Elsijane Trimble was one of five children of Judge Thomas Clark Trimble III and Elsie Walls. Her father and grandfather were both attorneys in a law practice with Senator Joseph T. Robinson, and her father later became a federal judge. Trimble grew up in Lonoke attending local schools and was a star basketball player her four years at Lonoke High School, graduating in 1934 as valedictorian. After high school, she entered the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she was the women’s singles and mixed doubles tennis champion for two years. She completed undergraduate studies and law school in five years and was the only woman to graduate from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1939. At the time, she was only the third woman to graduate from UA with a law degree.
She was admitted to the bar the same year as graduation and joined the law firm of W. W. McCrary Jr. in Lonoke. Between 1940 and 1942, Trimble was a state attorney for the Revenue Department, and from 1942 to 1944, she worked in the Office of Price Administration, where she was the chief price attorney.
Trimble married a law school classmate, James Morrison Roy, on November 23, 1944, and moved to Houston, Texas, where he worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In December 1946, they had a son. The following year, the Roys returned to Arkansas, moving to Blytheville (Mississippi County). She and her husband returned to practice law for the firm of Reid and Evrard. By 1954, she and her husband established Blytheville’s first husband-and-wife law firm, Roy and Roy, which lasted until 1963. The firm was closed for personal reasons after both her husband and father were hospitalized in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Between 1963 and 1966, Roy was the law clerk for Justice Frank Holt of the Arkansas Supreme Court. She and her husband divorced on June 30, 1967.
In 1966, Roy became the first woman judge in Arkansas when Governor Orval Faubus appointed her as a justice for the Sixth District Court; she served from April to December. She served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Arkansas between February and May 1967. From May 1967 until 1975, with the exception of a few months in 1969–70, she served as a law clerk for Federal District Court Judges Gordon E. Young (1967–1969) and Paul X. Williams (1970–1975).
Governor David Pryor appointed her as the first woman judge on the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1975, where she served until 1977, when Pryor recommended her for a federal judgeship in the Eastern Judicial District of Arkansas upon the retirement of Judge Oren Harris. On October 21, 1977, President Jimmy Carter nominated Roy to be the first woman federal district court judge in the Eighth Circuit, as recommended by Senators Dale Bumpers and John L. McClellan, and the U.S. Senate confirmed her on November 1, 1977. Roy occupied the position for twenty-one years, taking senior status in 1989 and retiring in 1999.
During Roy’s legal career, she garnered many honors, awards, and recognitions. In 1969 and 1976, respectively, she was named Woman of the Year, first by the Business and Professional Women’s Club and then by the Arkansas Democrat. She was awarded two honorary degrees: a Juris Doctor in 1969 from UA and a Doctor of Laws in 1978 from what is now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She was a prominent member of Chi Omega.
Roy kept her favorite Bible verse, Micah 6:8, on her bench: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.” Her Arkansas Democrat Woman of the Year plaque inscription reads that “she has become a symbol of pride and inspiration to all women.” In its memorial resolution to her, the Eighty-sixth Arkansas General Assembly reflected upon her “commitment, hard work, dedication and service.”
Roy died on January 23, 2007, at the age of ninety, and is buried in Lonoke Cemetery.
(Courtesy of: Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System)
June Biber Freeman, born and reared in New Jersey, came to Pine Bluff from the University of Chicago, where she had met and married her husband, Edmond Freeman, a Pine Bluff native. Both were graduate students at the time. When a call from his family interrupted his studies, she moved with him to Pine Bluff where he joined the family-owned newspaper, the Pine Bluff Commercial.
Long interested in the arts, she was instrumental in establishing the Little Firehouse Community Arts Center. Serving as its unpaid director until, with her continued vision and help, it morphed into the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC). In 1973, she conceived and organized the Women and the Arts: A Conference on Creativity, the first of its kind in the region. It was one of several events she organized for the ASC. Governor Dale Bumpers appointed her to the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. In 1975, Freeman was hired by Townsend Wolfe as the Arkansas Arts Center’s Director of State Services, a job she held for the next five years. Her eleven year old son’s repeatedly asking when she was going to stop working brought her commute and her job to an end, an agreeable one.
In 1982, she was instrumental in establishing Pine Bluff Sister Cities. With the help of Century Tube, a Japanese firm headquartered in Pine Bluff, Iwai City, Japan, and Pine Bluff became Sister Cities in 1984. Pine Bluff city officials and employees, students, teachers and interested citizens visited Iwai and people from Iwai visited Pine Bluff, one of the state’s international port cities. She has served on the boards of the Arkansas Arts Center, the Mid-American Arts Alliance and the Arkansas Arts Council. (In view of her background in psychology, she has served as a longstanding member of the UAMS Advisory Board of the Psychiatric Research Institute.)
Freeman is the founding director of the non-profit Architecture and Design Network (ADN) which got underway in 2003. Securing the support of the Arkansas Arts Center, the UA Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design (FJSAD) and the central section of the Arkansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Freeman launched a series of free public lectures by distinguished architects. Retiring as director at the end of 2016, she continues to serve as a board member. She was named a honorary member of the FJSAD Dean’s Circle and, in 2013, was given an Award of Merit by the state Chapter of the AIA at its annual meeting. In 2016 the ADN board named the lecture series for her.
Freeman and her husband, who retired as publisher of the Pine Bluff Commercial, moved to Little Rock in 1995. The couple has four children and six grandchildren.
Ruth Hawkins of Jonesboro is best known around the state for her strong advocacy for historic preservation and heritage tourism. As she is quick to point out, it is not that she is enamored of old buildings; rather, it is the heritage they represent and how they can be utilized to tell the stories of Arkansas to the rest of the world.
Hawkins has been at Arkansas State University since 1978, with most of her early years there as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. While traveling throughout the region to raise funds and friends for the university, this St. Louis native fell in love with the Arkansas Delta and its rich heritage. Looking for ways to merge needs of the region with programs and opportunities offered by the university, her first heritage project was raising funds to acquire and restore property in Piggott, Arkansas, that once belonged to Paul and Mary Pfeiffer. The Pfeiffers’ son-in-law, legendary author Ernest Hemingway, was a frequent visitor and wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms in their barn. The project opened in 1999 as the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center and led to Hawkins’s decision to devote full-time to preserving the heritage of the Arkansas Delta. The project also led to the publication of her book, Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage, which is the only biographical work that focuses on Hemingway’s relationship with the Pfeiffer family.
Under her leadership, the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program now has grown to include the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza, the Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, and the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. In addition to serving as economic catalysts in the rural communities where they are located, these sites provide research and field experiences for students in A-State Heritage Studies Ph.D. program, which Hawkins helped launch. She also serves as Executive Director of Arkansas Delta Byways, Inc., a tourism promotion association serving 15 counties in Eastern Arkansas. She led the efforts to develop two National Scenic Byways, the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Arkansas segment of The Great River Road, and serves as a technical advisor to the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. She has the unique distinction of serving as chairman for both the 75th Anniversary Celebration and the Centennial Celebration for Arkansas State University.
Her work has been recognized through numerous state and national preservation awards, including the Parker Westbrook Award for Lifetime Achievement in preservation, a Preservation Honors Award through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Lifetime Achievement Award through the Arkansas Historical Association, the Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award through the Arkansas Museums Association, and induction into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame. Hawkins has served on numerous boards and commissions and is a member of the International Women’s Forum of Arkansas, the Board of Trustees for The Delta School in Wilson, and the Jonesboro Rotary Club.
Brinda was born in McGehee, Arkansas, a small rural town in Southeast Arkansas, and raised in an even smaller rural town, Montrose, Arkansas, population 399 (at that time). Her parents, William and Bernice Jackson, farmers in rural Arkansas, instilled unquestionable values, the importance of education, and a strong work ethic in her and her seven siblings. Because of their teachings and guidance, Brinda was destined to shape a global footprint beyond that small town. Brinda is very humble, and is unaware of the broad impact she has had on others throughout her trail-blazing career. She continues to plant the seeds of greatness in the paths of women, inspiring them to achieve their dreams.
While in grade school, she was inspired to become an Architect from watching “The Brady Bunch” television show. She became focused on that career and that focus remained with her until her dream was realized. In 1979, Brinda graduated Valedictorian from Lakeside High School in Lake Village, Arkansas, as the first African American to do so in the history of the high school. She attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and graduated with a degree in Architecture, only the second African American woman to do so. From 1985 to 1989, she worked as an Architect in a small architectural firm in Little Rock. After realizing her initial dream of becoming an Architect, she decided to shift her focus to other opportunities. In January 1990, she started a career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Little Rock District, as an Architect in the Design Branch.
One of the most noteworthy items of her career as an Architect came about when she passed her Architectural Registration Exam in 1991, becoming the first African American woman in Arkansas registered to practice Architecture. Since that time, she has maintained her status as a Registered Architect. She is also a registered Project Management Professional.
She has attained additional outstanding accomplishments throughout her career. During her tenure as an Architect and Design Team Leader in the Design Branch, she worked on various projects for military installations across the country, including Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Fort Bliss, Texas; Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina; and Little Rock Air Force Base. In 1999, Brinda made the transition from Architect to Project Manager. In 2003, she deployed as a civilian Project Manager with the Forward Engineering Support Team, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, she was presented the 555 Combat Engineer Group Commander's Award for being the “Battlefield Hero” of the day and received two Command Sergeant Major's Coins of Excellence, in addition to receiving the Superior Civilian Service Award and the Chief of Engineer's coin. During her career, she has received numerous awards, achievement medals and recognition's, to include: 2013 Civilian of the Year for Little Rock District; 1999 graduate of the Army Management Staff College, where she received the Department of the Army Certificate of Achievement for "Best in Seminar"; 1998 recipient of the Women of Color Technology Award for Government Leadership (non-Government award); and the 1995 Little Rock District Architect of the Year.
Though an architect by profession, she is currently the Chief, Civil Works Programs Branch, Little Rock District, with the responsibility of developing, defending and executing an annual civil works program in excess of $200M. Her reputation for “getting the job done” has led to increased opportunities for various developmental assignments: Operations Project Manager for Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri; Regional Integration Team - Programmer, Headquarters USACE, Washington, DC; Acting Chief, Project Management Branch, Galveston District, Galveston, Texas; and most recently, the Acting Chief, Civil Works Integration Division, Southwestern Division, Dallas, Texas, where she was responsible for an annual civil works program portfolio that exceeded $1B.
Brinda has been an inspiration to all that know her, particularly women, because of her phenomenal career. She is a mentor to many, both formal and informal. Understanding the struggles of growing up poor in a small rural Arkansas town, she and three of her siblings (who also graduated from Lakeside High School) established the Jackson Family Scholarship in 2000, which is awarded annually to a graduating Senior of Lakeside High School. Brinda is a member of St Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock. She and her husband, David Switzer, reside in central Arkansas.
Pat Lile’s mantra challenge to people in our state for decades has been “Who will build Arkansas if her own people do not?” She was powerfully influenced by this question which was the message on a billboard on the north side of the bridge between Little Rock and North Little Rock in 1957. When the National Guard was sent by President Eisenhower to the capital city to protect students integrating Little Rock Central High and to keep the peace in September 1957 during the crisis under Governor Faubus, a photograph of that billboard took on a powerful new meaning. After their years at Hendrix College, she and her husband John moved to Durham, North Carolina, for him to attend Duke University Law School. That question loomed large in their thinking, they realized in retrospect, as they made the decision to Arkansas in June of 1962. They have not regretted that return home.
Since then, Lile has enjoyed two volunteer and professional careers of almost 30 years each, the first 28 years in Pine Bluff and since 1990, in Little Rock. She became known for her community building efforts both locally and statewide, focusing on the importance of leadership development and on philanthropy, the giving of individual and corporate financial resources. Don Munro challenged her by saying that he wanted to see the time come in Arkansas that philanthropy would be as frequent a topic of conversation as Razorback sports! She set out, through the Arkansas Community Foundation to which Munro contributed significantly, to help make that a reality. Dr. Tom Bruce, also a major contributor, was her ally in that effort which continues even today under the able Heather Larkin who succeeded Lile as president and CEO in 2008.
Pat Lile culminated her professional career by serving as President and CEO of the Arkansas Community Foundation, Inc. from mid 1996 through the end of 2007 when she retired. Her previous positions in Little Rock included serving as Executive Director of the Commission for Arkansas’ Future, a state planning effort from 1990-1995, and as Interim Executive Director of the Family Service Agency.
Prior to moving with her family to Little Rock, she and her family lived in Pine Bluff for 28 years, where she was very active in the community as a volunteer. Among her charitable involvements was the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary which she served as president. She also served on the Board of the United Way of Southeast Arkansas for which she was the first woman to serve as drive co-chairman, and the first woman to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors, a position she held for two years. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters in those years. She ran two major tax initiative campaigns for the city, and led two millage campaigns for the public schools, all successful. A Brownie Scout leader, she was also an active volunteer in the public schools from which their 4 children all graduated. She was awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA and was given the Lester Silbernagel Award by the Pine Bluff School District. As a member of the Junior League of Pine Bluff, she chaired several committees and was a delegate to the League’s national child advocacy conference in the mid 1970’s. She also led a community task force which established the first SCAN child abuse chapter outside of Little Rock. A supporter of the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, she chaired its first benefit dinner and charitable auction. As an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Pine Bluff, she was the first woman to serve as annual stewardship campaign chair, and was honored to be one of the first women elected as an Elder to serve on the Session.
She and her husband John founded Leadership Pine Bluff in 1981, the first program of its type in the state, and she was its executive director for 9 years. She organized NALO for other leadership programs in the state and led its annual conference for several years. Concurrently, she led the nonprofit community-planning and improvement program entitled Pine Bluff 2000 and was Vice President for Community Development of the Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce. She completed the Community Development Institute at UCA in the late 80’s. She was a founding board member and officer of the Pine Bluff Affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation in 1987, the second local Affiliate formed in the state. In a newspaper poll naming the Top Ten Most Influential Residents of the city, she was the only woman chosen. In 1982 she was honored with the Community Service Award from Channel 4 and the Governor’s Office on Volunteerism for her efforts to build Pine Bluff. She co-founded Synergy Forum, a 50-member women’s philanthropic grantmaking organization in Pine Bluff. In 1977 she was one of the co-founders of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and served on its Board for 10 years, including service as Board Chair.
As a resident of Little Rock since 1990, Lile has served on the Boards of Baptist Health Foundation, the Metropolitan YMCA, JCA (Just Communities of Arkansas, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews), City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock, and Lifequest. Lile was the first Arkansas woman to be chosen to participate in Leadership America, and served on the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce steering committee which created Leadership Arkansas. She also has served on the Garvan Woodland Gardens advisory council and is a member of the advisory board of WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions). She was a co-founder of the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance (formerly named ACE) and served on its board for many years. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Little Rock, and formerly a member of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, where she was named a Paul Harris Fellow. After retirement, she served for two years as a consultant on the nonprofit sector for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and is a volunteer speaker on various topics such as leadership, community development, stewardship, volunteerism, board governance and philanthropy.
Currently she is serving her eleventh year and second term as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Philander Smith College. She also serves on the Boards of the U. S. Marshals Museum and the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp.
Lile has received a number of other honors including the Arkansas Community Foundation’s Lugean Chilcote award in the late 80’s and its “Roots and Wings” Arkansas Benefactor award on her retirement. She received the Award of Excellence from the Arkansas Community Development program. She was named by the Governor as a member of the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission for the 1986 celebration year. In 1989 Lile was named as co-honoree (with Dr. Joycelyn Elders) as "Citizen of the Year" by the Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She is a 1995 graduate of Leadership America, a nationwide leadership program for outstanding women, and was the first Arkansas native chosen to participate. Entergy, Inc. awarded her its “Distinguished Leadership Award” in 1997. Appointed by then President Bill Clinton, she was the only Arkansan to attend the 1999 White House Conference on Philanthropy. Lile was honored four times as one of the "Top 100 Women of Arkansas" by Arkansas Business. In 2004 the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Arkansas Commission named her the recipient of a “Salute to Greatness” Community Service Award.
She is a founding member of AWLF (the Arkansas Women's Leadership Forum) and was a co-founder with Olivia Farrell of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, twice honored her, the first time at its “Power of the Purse” luncheon in 2002, and again by naming her “Arkansas Woman of the Year in Philanthropy” in 2007. She was honored in 2008 with the “Lifetime of Service” Award by City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock and with the Billie Ann Myers “Paragon” award by the Division of Volunteerism. In March of 2009 Lile was named by Arkansas Business, the state’s premier weekly business publication, as one of the top 25 Arkansas women leaders over the past 25 years, one of only two from the philanthropic sector. In March of 2010 Lile was presented the Father Joseph Biltz award from Just Communities of Arkansas (JCA), and was named recipient of the James E. Harris Nonprofit Leadership award in 2016 by the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance.
Under Lile’s leadership for almost 12 years, the Arkansas Community Foundation assets grew from just under $15 million to almost $130 million, and its statewide Affiliate system grew to include 26 local community foundations offices, with a staff of 11 full-time and 26 part-time. ARCF is one of the five largest grantmaking foundations in the state. Lile retired as President and CEO effective 31 December 2007.
Lile is a native of Hope, Arkansas. After attending Hendrix College, in 1959 she married John Gardner Lile III, who is now a retired attorney. They have four grown children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. They are active members of First United Methodist Church where she serves on several boards and committees and is the volunteer Director of Planned Giving.
Dr. Joanna Seibert developed the department of pediatric radiology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital coming to Arkansas with her husband in 1976 as Arkansas Children’s Hospital became the center for children in Arkansas. She was the first trained pediatric radiologist in the state. She previously was at the University of Iowa and was the first woman on their faculty. She has represented Arkansas across the country and abroad, developing a pediatric radiology department of distinction. One of her major developments was helping to find a method of detecting whether children with Sickle Cell Disease are at risk to develop a stroke as well as studying whether premature babies could be less at risk by several methods of treatment to the mother. She is the author of over 100 peer review papers on Pediatric Radiology and several Textbooks, the most recent in 2017 is Casebook of Pediatric Radiology 2 Edition a primary text for radiology residents to learn about pediatric radiology. Biennially Arkansas Children’s Hospital gives an award to the physician who embodies teamwork in his or her practice. The award is named the Joanna and Robert Seibert award. Dr. Seibert was named among the top 100 Women in Arkansas 1996-1998, the Worthen Arkansas Professional Woman of Distinction in 1992, and has been named among the Best Doctors in Arkansas 1997 until partial retirement in 2013.
She became an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church in 2001 and has served four congregations, St. Margaret’s, Trinity Cathedral, St. Luke’s North Little Rock, and presently is at St. Mark’s Little Rock developing health ministries, grief recovery groups across the state, teaching lay people how to become visitors to the sick as a facilitator of the Community of Hope, working with people in recovery, preaching and helping to develop adult education for parishes. She also leads retreat in the state and throughout the country especially for women who are seeking a deeper spiritual life in a busy world as well as leading retreats for men and women in recovery for addiction. She is the author of six books on spirituality in today’s world. Dr. Seibert and her husband Robert have lived in Little Rock for almost 40 years and have three grown children and six grandchildren.
There are few Arkansans - women or men - who have spoken more eloquently on the cause of civil rights and social justice than Dorothy D. Stuck. In the turbulent era of the late 1950s through the 1960s, she was a leading and sometimes lone, voice in calling for equality for all in Arkansas.
During this time she and her husband Howard were publishers of three east Arkansas newspapers - the Marked Tree Tribune, the Lepanto News Record, and the Truman Democrat. She received the Press woman of the Year award in 1964 and 1969. She was a charter member of the Arkansas Press Women and later served as its president.
In 1968, she was elected to represent Poinsett County in the Arkansas Constitutional Convention and was elected to chair the Suffrage and Election Committee, the only woman to chair a major committee.
She was able to put her words into action when she was named in 1970 as Regional Director, U.S. Office for Civil Rights, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Dallas Region, including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. In this position, she was responsible for adherence to desegregation of public schools, institutions of higher learning and state health organizations. She served a temporary assignment as acting national Deputy Director of the office for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., and was among those responsible for the implementation of Title IX, providing equal opportunities for women in education. She received HEW's Distinguished Service Award, which is the Department's highest civilian award, for her leadership in civil rights.
Also while in Dallas, she was the first woman to chair the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Executive Board and was named one of Dallas' Top Ten Women News-Shapers.
After nine years, she returned home to Arkansas and became a partner in Stuck and Snow Consultants, a Little Rock-based management and publications consulting firm. She also became a charter board-member of Southern Bancorp, a rural development bank serving the Delta area. As a board member, she coined the term “Building Communities, Changing Lives” to characterize the bank's work. She served on the board of the bank’s holding company and chaired the board of its non-profit partner, Southern Bancorp Community Partners.
After 30 years, she retired from the board, at which time Southern Bancorp established the Dorothy Stuck Empowerment Award that will be given annually to the employee whose work best exemplifies her goals.
A graduate of the University of Arkansas, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. While a student at the university, she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and later served for nine years as editor of "The Arrow," the sorority's national magazine.
Upon her retirement, she co-authored a biography, "ROBERTA: A Most Remarkable Fulbright" which reached the best-seller list in Arkansas and received an award of merit from the American Association of state and Local History.
Currently, she is a member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Lecture Board. She is one of those featured in the Rockefeller Museum on Petit Jean. She has also been a part of the Arkansas women's exhibit at the Old Statehouse Museum. She is listed in the book, "100 Women of Achievement in Arkansas" and included in the University of Arkansas' Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History which features life histories of outstanding Arkansans. She has been honored by the Archives of the Women of the Southwest at Southern Methodist University in its "Remember the Ladies" recognition program.
Dorothy's husband Howard died in 1981, and their son, Howard III, in 1990. She now resides in Little Rock. Often introduced as an "Arkansas Legend", it can be easily said that her courage in a time of democratic upheaval has earned her well-deserved admiration and respect.
The mission of the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters is the same today as when they first came to Arkansas in 1887: serving God and all those in need. To their original ministries of education and health care have been added Hispanic ministry, prison ministry, and other apostolates that would have been unimaginable to those first four Sisters who founded the congregation.
In 1900, just thirteen years after the foundation of their community, the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters established St. Bernards Hospital and Regional Medical Center. Today, the Sisters remain active in the governing and pastoral care of St. Bernards, the leading health care provider in Northeast Arkansas.
God continues to bless this community with new vocations as women of faith seek to follow their Master who came "not to be served, but to serve."
Betty Ann Lowe, M.D., was an exemplary pediatrician, diagnostician, educator, and advocate for children, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the state of Arkansas. She was known to be homespun, devoted, generous and tenacious beyond compare! Her parents, John W. and Winnie Lowe were public school administrators and educators. Betty was educated in the public schools of rural Texas and Arkansas, the University of Arkansas and the U of A Medical School venturing out of state only to Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School for residency training. She attributed her 25 years of private pediatric practice in Texarkana, AR/TX as preparing her to understand the struggle of families and local physicians and the need for better access to medical care for all residents of the state. To quote her, “To practice medicine for a period of time is a major factor toward being an effective clinical teacher”. She then set out to educate over two generations of pediatric physicians in the next three decades of her career.
Betty was active on boards and committees locally for such agencies as Camp Aldersgate, Easter Seals, and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (she was a founder of this group). She also enjoyed being part of the International Women’s Forum of Arkansas and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She was named the recipient of the Father Joseph Blitz Award given by Arkansas Just Communities; the Paul Harris Fellow Award of Rotary International for community service; graduated first in her UAMS medical school class; elected to membership in the medical honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha; 1980 the Golden Apple Teaching Award from UAMS; 1982 the Arkansas Caduceus Club Distinguished Faculty Award; American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)--member, Fellow, Vice President and President (only Arkansan to serve and the second woman to be elected nationally for President); received the Milton Senn Award from AAP in 1996 for contributions to school health; 1982 the President's 75th Anniversary Award at ACH; and the UAMS Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Achievements in Science and Medicine in 2002. Dr. Lowe was named as the first recipient of the Harvey and Bernice Jones Chair in Pediatrics in 1997. President William J. Clinton appointed her as an advisor to his Task Force for Health Care Reform. Because Betty had such a passion for teaching physicians, nurses and other health care professionals her family, medical colleagues, former students and patients honored her with the establishment of the Betty Ann Lowe, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Education in 1999. As part of her legacy to ACH she directed her estate to provide for continuing support of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology at ACH and a Chair was established for a Board Certified Pediatric Rheumatologist in 2013.
She was known as a role model for students and physicians; not just for female students, but also for all students. She was fair and demanded the best effort from herself and others. As one student recalled, “ She did not tolerate laziness” or students who only wanted to do enough to “get by”. “Not living up to individual potential” was a lesson learned at an early age within her family and carried over into all aspects of her professional career. She not only believed that excellence could be achieved in life, but that no one should even consider not “going for it”.
Dr. Lowe achieved many firsts in her career starting at an early age as valedictorian of Fourche Valley High School (Briggsville, Arkansas) and graduating first in her UAMS medical school class; but she never aspired to be ‘first’ only because something would attract attention to her. Quite the contrary, as Medical Director for Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Associate Dean of Pediatrics at University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, she was known to put the patients, families and students first. She insisted that the needs of patients and physicians come before “remodeling her office to look like a real physician’s office when that money could be used for patient care”. The ‘firsts’ she celebrated were those achieved by Arkansas Children’s Hospital in patient care, pediatric education, and clinical research. Over the next twenty-five years Dr. Lowe assisted with a number of firsts for ACH: a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with 12 bassinets; a state of the art ambulatory care service; open heart surgery; bone marrow transplant; heart transplant; NICU expanded to 55 beds; and a cooperative agreement with UAMS and ACH for the establishment of a joint state of the art Research Institute.
During her tenure as Medical Director the ACH expanded from a 45-bed, 2 patient wards to a modern teaching hospital with more than 260 beds, 70 specialty clinics and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Although she worked with excellent boards, administrators, and physicians over those years, there were the “dis-believers” who thought some of her ideas “were off the wall” and just could not be done. Her answer to those was, “We won't know until we try, will we?”
As President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the first and only Arkansan to date to hold that title, she was an advocate for health care reforms for children and medical education by challenging policies of the day, and advising politicians as well as physicians to “step up to the plate” and get moving with improving situations like poverty, public health issues (clean water, sanitation, adequate food for good nutrition, etc.), and health insurance. Many thought these were inappropriate issues for pediatricians, but Betty was relentless in showing how getting at the “root causes of illness and disease was essential to improving treatment and keeping children well”.
Aunt Bett, as she was known within the family, counted the nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews as her children and patients when the need arose. A very special treat for her was getting to visit with her first great-great niece and to get a late night phone call from her mom (the great niece) about what she should do about a “red rash’’! Aunt Bett would have liked for one of her nieces or nephews to become a Pediatrician. When one great niece told her she wanted to pursue Nursing, she replied, “Yep, yep, I think that is great! Be you and do what you love and success and happiness are sure to follow”. She was always supportive of the “kids” as she called them.
At one point she aspired to be a professional basketball player, but gave that up when she realized she would not be taller than five feet four inches. She had tremendous common sense and was practical in assessing her limits. This did not, however, diminish her competitive spirit in high school and intra-mural basketball in college. Her “left hook shot” was un-guardable and rarely missed going through the hoop! She was an avid reader with a very diverse subject matter interest and maintained a large stamp and coin collection; always had beautiful flowers in her garden as well as good vegetables (which she tended herself).
Betty prepared well for her chosen profession and never stopped studying and learning even in retirement. She exemplified what young women in Arkansas and elsewhere can become with education, study, and perseverance.
In summary, three quotes stand out: Betty was quoted on many occasions saying, “If you have any ideas about the future of our society then you know that this depends on making sure our children of today have the best health and education we can give them”. To quote President Bill Clinton at her retirement, “To me, she just took care of kids better than anybody. And she inspired a whole new generation of doctors to do the same. Betty, you have lived your life well in the most noble way possible – pouring yourself out for others”. One of her great nephews who spoke at her memorial told of an instance when Aunt Bett had said something he had done was “cool”. He followed by saying that “ When Aunt Bett said something was cool, now that was cool!”
Bettye McDonald Caldwell (December 24, 1924 - April 17, 2016) was an American educator and academic who influenced the development of Head Start.
Caldwell was born in Smithville, Texas, to Thomas and Juanita McDonald. Her family was poor, as her father was a railroad firefighter who lost his job when Caldwell was young. After graduating first in her high school class, Caldwell attended Baylor University, where she was a psychology and speech major. She earned a master's degree at the University of Iowa and a doctorate in psychology at Washington University. After graduate school, Caldwell was on the faculty or staff of several universities, including Northwestern University, Washington University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate.
While at Syracuse, Caldwell worked with pediatrician Julius Richmond on child development studies. Finding that poor children trailed off developmentally after the age of one, they created a day care center for children six months to five years of age. As the first infant group day care, the center required a waiver from the state. Caldwell felt that an emphasis on early childhood education could help to "level the playing field" for poor children before they started kindergarten. In 1964, Caldwell and Richmond's work led to the establishment of the Head Start project under Lyndon B. Johnson. Richmond was the first director of the project.
In the late 1960s, Caldwell moved to Arkansas. Working on the faculty of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, she established the Kramer Project, an inititive establishing a day care center associated with a Little Rock elementary school. Caldwell joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1974. The school made her Donaghey Distinguished Professor in 1978, the same year that she was one of Ladies' Home Journal's 10 Women of the Year. She was named to the faculty of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1993.
She and her husband, Fred Caldwell, had two children. Fred Caldwell died in 2004. Bettye died in April 2016.
As a Community Development advocate, Cathy Cunningham believes in the power of education - cultural, political & economic - to change lives and communities. She believes that young people and adults, who understand the importance of helping to create an improved quality of life for all, can positively affect the direction of a community’s future.
After marrying Ernest Cunningham in 1978 and moving to Helena, she was fortunate to share in the lives of his two sons and now five grandchildren. Mrs. Cunningham soon became a champion of historic preservation and led an effort to restore several historic structures. Upon seeing the dramatic results several friends were easily persuaded to become involved with the restoration of the 1905 Short House, still in operation as the Edwardian Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Cathy Cunningham has been dedicated to the improvement of her ‘adopted’ hometown through tourism and economic development. She was appointed by Governor Frank White to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (Arkansas Economic Development Commission). She served as Chairman of the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and as one of the founding board members of the Arkansas Main Street Program. She was the first woman asked to serve on the Board of Arkansas Power & Light (Entergy Arkansas), and has served many years on the Board of First National Bank of Phillips County (Southern Bancorp, Central).
Mrs. Cunningham and her husband were instrumental in the decision of KIPP; the Knowledge is Power Program, to open a school in Helena. A national network of public Charter Schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college & in life; KIPP opened in 2002 with 3 classes of 5th grade students and now serves over 1500 students in Helena-West Helena, Blytheville, and Forrest City. Mrs. Cunningham serves on the Board of KIPP Delta where, as Chairman of the Development Committee, she led a campaign to raise several million dollars to support KIPP Delta Public Schools.
As a Community Development Consultant with Southern Bancorp Community Partners, and as Chair of the Helena Advertising & Promotion Commission, Mrs. Cunningham led the development and implementation of the Civil War Helena project and many tourism related improvements in the community. The Civil War project included the construction of a ¾ replica of the former Ft. Curtis, development of Battery C, construction of Freedom Park, and the placement of more than 100 interpretive kiosks, bronzes, & canons throughout the community. Civil War Helena shares the emotional stories of both Union & Confederate soldiers, Contraband (former slaves) and the families left behind.
Kay Kelley Arnold retired from Entergy Corporation as vice president of Public Affairs three years ago and now spends her time gardening, fishing, entertaining friends at her cabin on the Little Red River, playing with her dog Scout, traveling and volunteering for political candidates and non-profit causes she believes in. She was a pioneer in understanding and acting on the belief that working cooperatively together, government and the private sector can accomplish goals that can not and do not happen alone. She has led award-winning programs that support the environment and economic growth. She developed effective grass roots campaigns to pass significant legislation and to raise funds for innovative projects that bridge the gaps that exist between economic prosperity and environmental quality.
Her experience in philanthropy and political action is now focused on several state, regional and national organizations where she serves as a board member and volunteer. She currently serves on the board of Arkansas Hospice, and is a founding director of two new environmental non-profits, the Arkansas Environmental Defense Alliance and the Little Red River Foundation. She continues to serve on the national board of The Conservation Fund and is an advisory board member to the Inter-American Foundation and the Foundation of the Mid South. She is also serving as a citizen advisor to the Metroplan board, appointed by Mayor Mark Stodola and an Arkansas advisor to the Clinton Foundation. She is an active member of the Arkansas Women’s Forum and serves as an honorary member of Arkansas Women of Power.
As the first Arkansas director of the Nature Conservancy field office, she learned the importance of partnerships between government, non-profit and corporate entities. Working together these organizations can accomplish more than any one of them could do by themselves and the societal benefits of these collaborations are both enduring and tangible. As the Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage she experienced the power people have to improve their communities when they are focused and flexible to make changes and work diligently toward common goals.
Public service is part of Kay Kelley Arnold’s DNA. Her parents, Henry and Tommie Kelley, always participated in the life of their community and taught their children that it was an honor to be asked and a duty to serve, to volunteer their time and talent to the betterment of society, in small and large ways. That foundation coupled with enlightened employers who understand the value of volunteer opportunities and who encourage employees to find meaningful ways to give back to their community gave Kay the love, spirit and ability to get involved in a wide variety of projects.
For almost 40 years, Kay has been an active volunteer, serving and leading on more than 45 Board of Directors for non-profit and governmental agency advisory boards at the local, state, national, and international levels. As her numerous board and committee positions attest, Kay utilizes her passion for the environment and her commitment to eliminating poverty and expanding economic opportunity to advocate for meaningful change, both within Arkansas and beyond.
Arnold’s decade of volunteer service to the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, the body responsible for setting policy for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, brought momentous improvements to the airport’s passenger experience while dramatically increasing its economic impact on the state of Arkansas.
Arnold, who twice served as chairwoman, was influential in changing the airport’s longstanding business model with airlines, an unheard-of move at the time. This enabled the airport commission to begin retaining record earnings, which have helped to bring about $90 million in improvements during the largest construction initiative within the organization’s history. The projects have included a new ticket lobby, baggage claim renovation, an enlarged security checkpoint in addition to an upcoming concourse renovation. Much of the work, which was completed by local contractors, began at the end of the recession, and provided a much needed spur to the local economy. The first phase of the terminal redevelopment project was completed in May 2013 with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton in attendance to celebrate the airport’s transformation, and formally dedicate the facility as Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The concourse renovation, the last portion of the long-term project, will start later this summer.
Clinton National Airport, which is now debt free, has been a trailblazer as airports across the country have since adopted the Little Rock Airport’s best practices, set forth by the airport commission, as their choice financial model for future success.
The airport is home to nearly 4,000 jobs with approximately half of those located at Dassault-Falcon Jet Corporation. Occupying more than 1-million square feet, Dassault-Falcon’s operation at Clinton National is the largest in the world. In 2013 during Arnold’s last term as chairwoman, Dassault was looking at several communities that were vying to be the site of the company’s new facility to serve as the completion center for two new jets, the Falcon 5X and the Falcon 8X. Arnold was exceedingly determined that Little Rock would be chosen, which would result in a 250-thousand square foot expansion and additional, good paying jobs. Through Arnold’s leadership, the airport provided $41 million in rent incentives, which helped Little Rock win the project that was completed in November 2015.
Lottie H. Shackelford has made history throughout her impressive 40 plus years in local, state and national politics. In 1987, she became the first woman elected Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas. Six years later, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), making her the first African American woman to serve on that Board. She also has the distinction of having the longest tenure as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), having served for 20 years and is currently Vice Chair Emeritus and Chair of the DNC Women’s Caucus.
Ms. Shackelford's political career began in 1978 when she was appointed to the Board of Directors for the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. She was elected and re-elected city wide three times before being elected the City’s first woman Mayor. During her tenure in local government, Ms. Shackelford directed liaison activities for minority businesses and held leadership positions in the National League of Cities. Additionally, she presented papers and conducted lecture tours on local government, economic development and electoral politics nationally and in European and African countries, as well as, leading economic trade missions to Asian countries.
For the past several decades, Ms. Shackelford has worked tirelessly with the Democratic Party and has been a delegate to every Democratic National Convention since 1980. Her national political experience includes senior positions on presidential campaigns, working on White House transition teams, and Co-Chair of the 1988 DNC Convention.
With wide-ranging institutional knowledge and political experience, Ms. Shackelford remains an invaluable asset to the Democratic Party. During her tenure as DNC Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation, Ms. Shackelford traveled across the country and around the world, sharing the Democratic Party’s message and engaging voters in the political process. She regularly participated in political forums in other countries, including Azerbaijan, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, and observed elections and the electoral process in Romania, the Baltics, West Germany and Taiwan.
Ms. Shackelford has also been an active member, locally and nationally, of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has received numerous honors and awards with some of the most coveted being a recipient of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Trailblazer Award in 1980 the Mary Church Terrell Award in 1998 at National Convention, The Delta Legacy Award at the 42nd National Convention, Esquire Magazines 40 most influential African Americans in 1984, induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1993, Woman of Distinction, 2003, Jimmie Lou Fisher-Lottie Shackelford Dinner, 2014 to honor women who have worked tirelessly on behalf of key issues that affect women in Arkansas and a Greek Legend Honoree in 2015.
Ms. Shackelford received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas and was a Senior Fellow at the Arkansas Institute of Politics and a 1983 Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
She has an extensive record of having served on numerous boards and commissions such as the Board of Directors of Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR, Southern Regional Council, Atlanta, GA, and Little Rock Airport Commission. Ms. Shackelford is also a member of many civic and social organizations including the Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc. and The Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute.
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas and a member of the First Baptist Church of Little Rock, Ms. Shackelford is a proud mother of three adult children, a son and two daughters, and a devoted grandmother of six. She is a mentor to dozens of young women and men interested in politics and continues to open doors for future generations who want to serve the public.
Joycelyn Elders, the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, was the fifteenth Surgeon General of the United States, the first African American and only the second woman to head the U.S. Public Health Service. Long an outspoken advocate of public health, Elders was appointed Surgeon General by President Clinton in 1993.
Born to poor farming parents in 1933, Joycelyn Elders grew up in a rural, segregated, poverty-stricken pocket of Arkansas. She was the eldest of eight children, and she and her siblings had to combine work in the cotton fields from age 5 with their education at a segregated school thirteen miles from home. They often missed school during harvest time, September to December.
After graduating from high school, she earned a scholarship to the all-black liberal arts Philander Smith College in Little Rock. While she scrubbed floors to pay for her tuition, her brothers and sisters picked extra cotton and did chores for neighbors to earn her $3.43 bus fare. In college, she enjoyed biology and chemistry, but thought that lab technician was likely her highest calling. Her ambitions changed when she heard Edith Irby Jones, the first African American to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School, speak at a college sorority. Elders—who had not even met a doctor until she was 16 years old—decided that becoming a physician was possible, and she wanted to be like Jones.
After college, Elders joined the Army and trained in physical therapy at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After discharge in 1956 she enrolled at the University of Arkansas Medical School on the G.I. Bill. Although the Supreme Court had declared separate but equal education unconstitutional two years earlier, Elders was still required to use a separate dining room—where the cleaning staff ate. She met her husband, Oliver Elders, while performing physical exams for the high school basketball team he managed, and they were married in 1960.
Elders did an internship in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, and in 1961 returned to the University of Arkansas for her residency. Elders became chief resident in charge of the all-white, all-male residents and interns. She earned her master's degree in biochemistry in 1967, became an assistant professor of pediatrics at the university's Medical School in 1971, and full professor in 1976.
Over the next twenty years, Elders combined her clinical practice with research in pediatric endocrinology, publishing well over a hundred papers, most dealing with problems of growth and juvenile diabetes. This work led her to study of sexual behavior and her advocacy on behalf of adolescents. She saw that young women with diabetes face health risks if they become pregnant too young—include spontaneous abortion and possible congenital abnormalities in the infant. She helped her patients to control their fertility and advised them on the safest time to start a family.
Governor Bill Clinton appointed Joycelyn Elders head of the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987. As she campaigned for clinics and expanded sex education, she caused a storm of controversy among conservatives and some religious groups. Yet, largely because of her lobbying, in 1989 the Arkansas Legislature mandated a K-12 curriculum that included sex education, substance-abuse prevention, and programs to promote self-esteem. From 1987 to 1992, she nearly doubled childhood immunizations, expanded the state's prenatal care program, and increased home-care options for the chronically or terminally ill.
In 1993, President Clinton appointed Dr. Elders U.S. Surgeon General. Despite opposition from conservative critics, she was confirmed and sworn in on September 10, 1993. During her fifteen months in office she faced skepticism regarding her progressive policies yet continued to bring controversial issues up for debate. As she later concluded, change can only come about when the Surgeon General can get people to listen and talk about difficult subjects.
Dr. Elders left office in 1994 and in 1995 she returned to the University of Arkansas as a faculty researcher and professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. In 1996 she wrote her autobiography, Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper's Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America.
Now retired from practice, she is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, and remains active in public health education.
Patti Upton of Heber Springs is the founder and former president and chief executive officer of Aromatique Inc., a multi-million-dollar international company that launched the decorative fragrance industry. Before Upton, American women brought color and fragrance to their home only by using live flowers. She changed the world with decorative fragrance in open bowls, as well as fragranced candles. Aromatique, founded in 1982, now features many fragrance product lines, complete with accessories and decorative containers, and a full bath line. Her first fragrance creation – The Smell of Christmas – was made up of Arkansas native botanicals such as acorns, pine cones, gumballs and hickory nuts, fragranced with spices and oils. Placed in a friend’s shop, the fragrance sold out and customers clamored for more. Today the company employs more than 200 people in Arkansas. Media took notice, including People magazine, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," the London Sunday Express, Southern Living and the Washington Post. Upton has been recognized by Working Woman magazine, the International Women's Forum, the Society of Entrepreneurs and the Easter Seal Society. She was honored as the Arkansas Business Woman Owner of the Year and her company as the Arkansas Business of the Year. Several organizations have benefitted from her philanthropic work, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and The Nature Conservancy. Upton was recognized with the Distinguished Citizen Award from Little Rock’s KARK-TV and the Office of the Governor of the State of Arkansas for her charitable work. In February, 2016, Patti was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
Pat Walker was born in Boise, Idaho, on May 9, 1919. She was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After Pat graduated from high school, she and her mother moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, where she met her future husband, Willard. Pat and Willard lived in several different towns before settling in Springdale to raise their two children, Patricia and Johnny Mike. Pat feels blessed to have shared 61 years of marriage with Willard before he passed away in February, 2003. She has seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren: each one brings her great happiness. Every day is a celebration of life as she enjoys time with friends and family.
In 1986, Willard and Pat created the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. Since that time, their generosity has touched the lives of thousands of Arkansans. Pat still serves as a lifetime board member for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, is an active member of SpringCreek Fellowship of Springdale, and pursues an active role in the Walker Charitable Foundation. As one of the Razorback’s most loyal fans, Pat enjoys the spirit of the fans and the competition of the games, especially in football, baseball, basketball and gymnastics.
Many awards have been bestowed upon Pat in recognition of her philanthropy, including the 2002 American Heart Association Tiffany Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Razorback Foundation and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Distinguished Service Award. She has been recognized as one of the Most Distinguished Women in Arkansas. Pat and Willard were inducted into the Towers of Old Main in 2001 and are long-time members of the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Society and the UAMS Chancellor’s Society. Pat served as honorary chairperson in 2005 for Komen Ozark Race for the Cure.
Pat Walker has left her mark on many institutions across the state. In 1996, the Pat Walker Theater was dedicated at the Springdale High School. The Pat Walker Health Center was dedicated in November, 2004, at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville campus. In 2007, the University of the Ozark’s dedicated the Pat Walker Teacher Education Program. The Pat Walker Center for Seniors at Washington Regional Medical Center was opened in April, 2008, recognizing Pat as a role model for senior adults. In 2010, Arkansas Children’s Hospital named the Pat Walker Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in honor of Pat’s commitment to healthcare.
Through philanthropy, Pat has provided many people with the opportunity to reach their full potential. Each gift has come with a sincere desire to better others lives. Ozark Guidance, Circle of Life Hospice, The Jones Center for Families, the Fayetteville Public Library, the Springdale Public Library, Crystal Bridges and many other Northwest Arkansas organizations have received the philanthropic support of the Walker Charitable Foundation. As well, many scholarships bearing the Walker name have been set up across the State to enable students to further their education and reach their full potential in life.
Willard and Pat Walker made the decision together to focus on healthcare and education in their state and community. Pat looks forward to continuing this mission for many years to come.
In 1824, Catherine McAuley found herself a wealthy heiress. For years, she had observed in her native Ireland, the plight of single women and the poor. Now, with the finances, she began in earnest to address these needs; gradually others were attracted to assist. As many joined her ranks, though she had no intention to form a religious community, in 1841, it became increasingly necessary for organizational support. The rest is history! Within a few years, the Sisters were providing shelter and education for poor women and children throughout Ireland and England, coming to Little Rock Arkansas in 1851. Mount St. Mary Academy, the oldest continuously operated high school in Arkansas, was the Sister’s first focus, later responding to health and social needs. Through the years, the Sisters embraced the needs of ALL including the Civil War, where in Helena, wounded soldiers from both Union and Confederate armies received their care.
In Arkansas, over the last 165 years, the sheer number of lives the Sisters have touched is overwhelming! Currently there are seven Mercy Hospitals, a residential care facility, schools and direct services to the needy. The influence of “Mercy” in Arkansas and many parts of the United States has and continues to spread far and wide, driven by the Direction Statement of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas:
“Animated by the Gospel and Catherine McAuley’s passion for the poor, we, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, are impelled to commit our lives and resources to act in solidarity with the economically poor, especially women and children; Women seeking fullness of life and equality in church and society; One another as we embrace our multicultural and international reality”.
Alice Walton is the founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and now serves as Chairwoman of the Museum’s Board of Directors. Ms.Walton is the youngest of four children born to the late Helen Walton and the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
An avid horsewoman, nature lover and art collector, Ms. Walton envisioned creating a significant art museum in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, so that people of the region would have ready access to great works of art. She conceived Crystal Bridges as a celebration not only of American art and history, but of the Ozark landscape she loved and explored as a child, and planned to build the museum on land that had belonged to the Walton family for years. In 2005, Alice involved her family in her dream for Crystal Bridges, and the Walton Family Foundation agreed to fund the project.
Nestled in 120-acres of Ozark woodlands—a gift from the Walton family to Crystal Bridges— the museum opened on 11-11-11 with the mission of welcoming all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. The establishment of the museum and its impact within the region has prompted numerous accolades for Ms. Walton, including Headliner of the Year by the Arkansas Press Association, inclusion on the 2012 "TIME 100" list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Medal.
Ms. Walton serves as a member of the board of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a member of the Trustees' Council of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She currently lives in central Texas, where she raises cutting horses and operates the Rocking W Ranch.
Betty Bumpers, former First Lady of Arkansas, wife of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers, has dedicated her life to issues affecting children’s health, empowering women, and the cause of world peace. A former art teacher educated at Iowa State, the University of Arkansas, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Betty Bumpers is the mother of three children and has seven grandchildren.
When she became First Lady of Arkansas, the state had one of the lowest immunization rates in the nation. Mrs. Bumpers spearheaded a statewide immunization program for childhood vaccinations, and the state achieved one of the highest immunization rates in the country. The “Every Child By “74” project model that brought together the Arkansas League for Nursing, the State Health Department, the Arkansas National Guard, the State Nurses Association, the State Medical Society, and the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Arkansas, faith-based organizations, and other volunteers, was so successful it was used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for immunization programs across America. It continued into the next decade.
When Jimmy Carter became President, Mrs. Bumpers contacted him and explained the deficits in the country’s immunization program, and urged him to work to improve the situation. At that time, only 17 states in the country required immunizations by school age. Mrs. Bumpers” and Mrs. Carter’s advocacy led to the first federal initiative in comprehensive childhood immunization, launched in 1977. These efforts led to laws in every state requiring vaccinations before entry into school. Today, more than 95% of American children are immunized by the time they go to school. The CDC says it is the most successful public health program they have ever had.
In 1991, responding to the 1989-1991 measles epidemic, Betty Bumpers and Rosalynn Carter founded Every Child by Two to ensure that all children in America are immunized on schedule by age two and that states develop immunization registries. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said, “from Arkansas to Washington, DC, to the far corners of the globe, Betty has been a guardian of children, protecting them from polio, from rubella and from many other invisible enemies.”
In 1982, Mrs. Bumpers, concerned about the growing nuclear arms race, formed Peace Links to “effect a mind shift in the way people think” about peace and nuclear war. For twenty years Peace Links, which encompassed over 200 gubernatorial and congressional women and global women leaders, worked to educate communities about a new concept of national security, the value of cultural diversity, non-violent conflict resolution, global cooperation, citizen diplomacy, violence prevention and peace building. Through the National Peace Foundation, she continues to draw the world together into a unified community dedicated to peace.
Daisy Gatson Bates (1914-1999). Born in Huttig, Arkansas. She married journalist Lucious Christopher Bates and they operated a weekly African-American newspaper, the Arkansas State Press. Bates became president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP and played a crucial role in the fight against segregation, which she documented in her book The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Civil rights activist, writer, publisher. Born Daisy Lee Gatson on November 11, 1914, in Huttig, Arkansas. Bates’s childhood was marked by tragedy. Her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered by three white men and her father left her. She was raised by friends of the family.
As a teenager, Bates met Lucious Christopher “L.C.” Bates, an insurance agent and an experienced journalist. The couple married in the early 1940s and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Together they operated the Arkansas State Press, a weekly African-American newspaper. The paper championed civil rights, and Bates joined in the civil rights movement. She became the president of Arkansas chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952. As the head of the NAACP’s Arkansas branch, Bates played a crucial role in the fight against segregation. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional in the landmark case known as Brown v. Board of Education. Even after that ruling, African American students who tried to enroll in white schools were turned away in Arkansas. Bates and her husband chronicled this battle in their newspaper. In 1957, she helped nine African American students to become the first to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, who became known as the Little Rock Nine. The group first tried to go to the school on September 4. A group of angry whites jeered at them as they arrived. The governor, Orval Faubus, opposed school integration and sent members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the students from entering the school. Despite the enormous amount of animosity they faced from white residents of the city, the students were undeterred from their mission to attend the school.
Bates’ home became the headquarters for the battle to integrate Central High School and she served as a personal advocate and supporter to the students. President Dwight D. Eisenhower became involved in the conflict and ordered federal troops to go to Little Rock to uphold the law and protect the Little Rock Nine. With U.S. soldiers providing security, the Little Rock Nine left from Bates’ home for their first day of school on September 25, 1957. Bates remained close with the Little Rock Nine, offering her continuing support as they faced harassment and intimidation from people against desegregation.
Bates also received numerous threats, but this would not stop her from her work. The newspaper she and her husband worked on was closed in 1959 because of low adverting revenue. Three years later, her account of the school integration battle was published as The Long Shadow of Little Rock. For a few years, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the Democratic National Committee and on antipoverty projects for the Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.
Bates returned to Little Rock in the mid-1960s and spent much of her time on community programs. After the death of her husband in 1980, she also resuscitated their newspaper for several years, from 1984 to 1988. Bates died on November 4, 1999, Little Rock, Arkansas.
For her career in social activism, Bates received numerous awards, including an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas. She is best remembered as a guiding force behind one of the biggest battles for school integration in the nation’s history.
Edith Irby Jones was the first African American to attend and to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Not only was she a pioneer in the desegregation of higher education in Arkansas and the South, but she also has served as a highly successful doctor, educator, and philanthropist in Arkansas, Texas, and overseas.
Edith Irby was born on December 23, 1927, near Conway (Faulkner County) to Robert Irby, a sharecropper, and Mattie Buice Irby, a maid. Her father died when she was eight, and the family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County). Irby’s older sister died of typhoid fever at the age of twelve, largely due to her impoverished family’s lack of access to medical attention. Irby suffered from rheumatic fever when she was seven, making her joints so painful that she was unable to walk or attend school for a year. These experiences prompted Irby to seek a career in medicine, with the goal of helping those who could not afford standard medical care.
Irby graduated from Langston Secondary School in Hot Springs in 1944 and earned a scholarship to Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tennessee. She majored in chemistry, biology, and physics. Upon graduation, she applied to three medical schools: Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; the University of Chicago; and UAMS. She chose to remain in Arkansas largely because the tuition at UAMS was considerably less than at the other two schools. Earlier the same year, Silas Hunt had been accepted at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Now, Irby became the first African American accepted at UAMS—as well as the first accepted at any medical school in the South. This accomplishment was reported nationally in many publications, including Life, Time, Ebony, and the Washington Post.
Although she had been accepted to attend classes, she was not allowed to use the same dining, lodging, or bathroom facilities as other students at UAMS. Resisting the segregationist rules, many of her classmates chose to eat with her and to study with her at her apartment. During her second year at the medical school, she married Dr. James B. Jones; they had three children. She received her MD degree, becoming the college’s first African-American graduate, in 1952. She then opened a general practice in Hot Springs.
Jones and her family moved to Houston, Texas, in 1959, where she became the first black woman intern at Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospital. The hospital segregated her and limited her patient rosters. She completed the last three months of her residency at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington DC. She was among several other black physicians who founded Mercy Hospital and one of twelve doctors who owned and developed Park Plaza Hospital. Over time, she accumulated staff privileges at nine Houston-area hospitals, including the Houston Hospital, which was renamed the Edith Irby Jones M.D. Health Care Center in her honor. However, she has always maintained her practice in Houston’s “third ward” to serve those who could not afford to go anywhere else for medical care.
In 1985, she was elected the first female president of the National Medical Association (NMA). She is also the only female founding member of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC). Jones has taught, consulted, and/or provided healthcare in not only in the United States but also in Haiti, Mexico, Cuba, China, Russia, and throughout Africa. She provides support for two international healthcare locations that bear her name: the Dr. Edith Irby Jones Clinic in Vaudreuil, Haiti (which she helped to build), and the Dr. Edith Irby Jones Emergency Clinic in Veracruz, Mexico. Jones was a charter member of Physicians for Human Rights, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. As of 2008, she continues to teach and practice medicine at the University of Texas Medical School and Baylor College of Medicine.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Hattie Wyatt Caraway (1878-1950), U. S. Senator from Arkansas 1931-1944, was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right. She was born February 1, 1878, near Bakersville, Tennessee. At fourteen, she entered Dickson (Tennessee) Normal College, where she earned a B.A. degree in 1896 and also met Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, a fellow student several years older than she. The couple married in 1902 and had three sons, Paul Wyatt, Forrest, and Robert Easley. They settled in Arkansas where Thaddeus Caraway practiced law and entered first local and then state politics.
Thaddeus Caraway was elected to the United States Congress in 1912, and to the Senate in 1920. He was reelected in 1926 but died unexpectedly in 1931, and his widow was appointed in his place. In a special election early in 1932 she was elected to the office. Unexpectedly she decided to run for a full term in 1932, and supported by Huey Long of Louisiana, she conducted an intense campaign and won the Democratic nomination, tantamount to election.
In 1938 she won her second full term, and continued to support the Roosevelt economic program.. She lost her race for a third term in 1944, but remained in Washington in other Civil Service positions. Hattie Caraway died December 21, 1950.
Hester Ashmead Davis was an active participant in the development of Cultural Resources Management legislation and programs in the United States. Born June 4, 1930 in Ayer, Massachusetts, she took an unconventional route to a career in Archeology at a time when few opportunities existed for women.
After receiving a B.A. in history from Rollins College in 1955, an M.A. in Social and Technical Assistance from Haverford College in 1955, and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina in 1957, Hester became preparator at the University of Arkansas Museum in 1959. This began a lifelong association with archeology in Arkansas, first at the Museum until 1967, and then as State Archeologist with the Araksnsas Archeological Survey from 1967 to 1999, when she retired.
At Arkansas, Hester became associated with Charles R. McGimsey III, and they were both involved for more than a decade in CRM issues and activities. She participated in the foundational Airlie House Seminars and co-edited the subsequent report in 1977. She was a founding member of the National Association of State Archeologists, the American Society for Conservation Archeology, and the Society of Professional Archeologists, and served in numerous committee and officer positions, including President in the latter two organizations.
In Arkansas, Hester extended her role in public archeology and CRM through several organizations. She was a member of the Arkansas State Review Board on Historic Preservation from 1969 to 2000, and served terms as Vice Chair and Chair. She taught a Public Archeology course that included CRM at the University of Arkansas between 1974 and 1991. She was a founding member of the Arkansas Archeological Society, and served in several officer positions including 20 years as editor of the Bulletin, and 40 years as editor of the newsletter.
On the regional level, she was a long time member of numerous organizations, including the Southeastern Archeological Conference and the Southeastern Archeological Conference and the Southeastern Museums Conference, serving as President of both. Nationally, she was a member of the Society for American Archeology, the Socity for Historic Archeology, the Coordinating Council of National Archeological Societies, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Association for Field Archaeology, and served on boards and committees in all of them. She was a consultant for several Federal Agencies, including the National park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and was a CRM program reviewer and/or consultant to a long list of agencies and Universities.
Along with her election to the Board of Trustees for US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), the US’ committee for UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites, her most important internationally ranked role and one that she was especially proud of, Hester was also appointed (by Bill Clinton) to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, a committee appended to the US Department of State, that advises the president and USIA on matters of cultural property ownership and repatriation that arise through UNESCO provisions and actions.
Hillary Clinton has served as Secretary of State, Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, First Lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor, activist, and volunteer, but the first things her friends and family will tell you is that she’s never forgotten where she came from or who she’s been fighting for throughout her life.
Hillary grew up in a middle class home in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Her dad, Hugh, was a World War II Navy veteran and a small business man with a drapery business that designed, printed, and sold his draperies. Hillary, her mom, and her two brothers helped out in the business whenever they could. Hugh was a rock-ribbed Republican, a pay-as-you-go kind of guy who worked hard and wasted nothing.
Hillary’s mother, Dorothy, had a tough childhood. She was abandoned by her parents as a young child and shipped off to live with relatives who didn’t want her. By age 14, Dorothy knew the only way she’d get by was to support herself, and she started working as a housekeeper and babysitter while she went through high school. Her mother’s experience sparked in Hillary a lifelong commitment to championing the needs of children.
Her own childhood was very different. Her parents built a stable middle class life. Hillary attended public schools and was a Brownie and a Girl Scout. She played in a girls' softball league. She was raised a Methodist and her mom taught Sunday school. Her youth minister took Hillary to see Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in Chicago and helped her develop a lifelong passion for social justice.
Hillary graduated from Wellesley College and then went to Yale Law School, where she was one of just 27 women in her graduating class. Hillary met her husband Bill at law school.
After law school, Hillary chose not to go to a big New York or Washington law firm. Instead, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, going door to door in New Bedford, Massachusetts, gathering stories about the lack of schooling for children with disabilities, which contributed to the passage of historic legislation to require their education.
It’s this commitment to public service and fighting for others—especially children and families—that she’s carried all her life.
After serving as a lawyer for the Congressional Committee investigating President Nixon, she moved to Arkansas where she taught law and ran legal clinics representing poor people. She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, one of the state’s first child advocacy groups. And on October 11, 1975, she married Bill in a small ceremony in Fayetteville, Arkansas. As First Lady of Arkansas, she was a forceful champion for improving educational standards and health care access. And she and Bill started their own family when their daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980.
Bill was first elected president in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. As First Lady, Hillary tenaciously led the fight to reform our health care system so that all our families have access to the care they need at affordable prices. When the insurance companies and other special interests defeated that effort, Hillary didn’t give up. She worked with Republicans and Democrats to help create the successful Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to more than 8 million children and has helped cut the uninsured rate for children in half.
In 1995, despite being told by some officials not to go, Hillary led the U.S. delegation to Beijing to attend the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and gave a groundbreaking speech, declaring that “human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all”—inspiring women worldwide and helping to galvanize a global movement for women’s rights and opportunities.
In 2000, Hillary was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman senator from New York. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Hillary pushed the Bush administration to secure $20 billion to rebuild New York and fought to provide health care for first responders who were contaminated at Ground Zero. She repeatedly worked across the aisle to get things done, including working alongside Republicans to expand TRICARE so that members of the Reserves and National Guard and their families could get better access to health care.
When Congress wouldn't do enough for rural areas and small towns, Hillary didn’t back down. She launched an innovative partnership in New York with eBay and local colleges to provide small businesses with tech support, microloans and training programs to sell their goods online. She helped expand broadband to remote areas of the state. And she launched Farm-to-Fork, to help New York farmers and producers sell their products to New York’s restaurants, schools, colleges and universities.
In 2008, Hillary ran for president. When she came up short, she told her supporters, "Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.
And when President Obama asked Hillary to serve as his secretary of state, she put aside their hard-fought campaign and answered the call to public service once again. After eight years of Bush foreign policy, Hillary was instrumental in starting to restore America’s standing in the world. Even former Republican Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said she “ran the State Department in the most effective way that I’ve ever seen.”
She built a coalition for tough new sanctions against Iran that brought them to the negotiating table and she brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that ended a war and protected Israel’s security. She was a forceful champion for human rights, internet freedom, and rights and opportunities for women and girls, LGBT people and young people all around the globe.
In 2014, Hillary took on a new role—grandmother to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky—and she couldn’t be prouder or happier.
Johnelle Hunt was born in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She met Johnnie B. Hunt when she was a junior in high school and four years later they were married. She attended the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. She and J. B. were married 55 years and blessed with two children as well as seven grandchildren.
In 1962, the J. B. Hunt Company, a rice hull packaging company, opened its doors in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Johnelle worked part-time to help her husband get started in the business. As the company grew, she found herself working more and more - helping with correspondence, financial statements and doing bookkeeping. Before long she was working full time. In 1969 the couple co-founded J.B. Hunt Transport with five trucks and seven trailers. Its success is a tribute to the Hunt’s entrepreneurial spirit and hard work. J.B. Hunt Transport is one of the largest transportation logistics providers encompassing Intermodal, Dedicated, Truckload, LTL, Final Mile, Refrigerated, Flatbed and Expedited services. Among her jobs were the position of credit manager and the board position of Corporate Secretary which she held until 2008. At her retirement from the Board of Directors of the company in 2008, Johnelle was recognized as being an active and important partner contributing to the company’s development and success.
Mrs. Hunt currently holds a seat on The Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute Advisory Board. She is the founding Chairman of the United Way Alexis de Tocqueville Society for Washington County as well as a founding Executive Board Member of the Ozark Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. In May of 2000, she accepted the position of Campaign Treasurer for the University of Arkansas’ Leadership Team entitled Campaign for the 21st Century, a major fundraising drive that raised over one billion dollars. Following the Campaign for the 21st Century, an Advisory Board was formed of which Mrs. Hunt served on the Executive Committee. She was Co-Chair of the University’s Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee in 2013 and continues to serve on the Campaign. She has served on the Board of Directors for The Beau Foundation benefiting prenatal care in Northwest Arkansas since 2003. She previously served on the UAMS Foundation Board.
In 1990, she and Mr. Hunt were chosen as the Arkansas Easter Seal Arkansans of the Year, the first couple to receive this award. In 1992 she was one of four women to receive the Worthen Professional Women of Distinction Award and has been included in “The Top 100 Women” list for Arkansas from 1994-1998. In 1996 the March of Dimes honored the Hunts as Citizens of the Year. In 2001 she and Mr. Hunt were inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. Mrs. Hunt received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Arkansas in 2009. She was honored by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce where she also received the 2013 Dick Trammel Good Neighbor Award.
Since the passing of her husband in December of 2006, Mrs. Hunt has taken a very active role in projects developed and managed by her company, Hunt Ventures. The group is primarily responsible for the conception and development of the more than 700 acre project in western Rogers known as Pinnacle Hills with over 1.4 million square feet of retail/restaurants, 960,000 square feet of Class A office space and an additional 238,000 square feet of offices and retail under construction. Johnelle is also actively involved with many other ongoing projects and companies started by Mr. Hunt including Northwest Arkansas Quarries, Haskell (Oklahoma) Sand and Gravel, Central Mortar and Grout (Muskogee, Oklahoma), J.B. Hunt Gas and Oil Drilling (Midland, Texas) and a rock quarry project in Honduras, Central America. Other companies she is associated with include BioBased Technologies and Pinnacle Hills Promenade. She has also developed and constructed Northwest Arkansas’ newest cemetery, Pinnacle Memorial Gardens, along with the accompanying 3000 square foot Hunt Chapel.
Mary Ann Ritter Arnold was born April 25, 1927. She graduated from Stephens College with an AA in 1945 and from the University of Missouri with a BS degree in Home Economics in 1948. She married Sidney W. Arnold in 1948. He graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1956.
In 1975, she moved back to Marked Tree and became president of E. Ritter & Co. from 1976-1992. She and her husband had three children — Melissa, Ritter, and Paul - who have given them seven grandchildren and two great granddaughters.
Arnold became active in the Agriculture Council of Arkansas, National Cotton Council, Cotton Board, US Rice Council, Arkansas Telephone Association, US Telephone Association, Crittenden Hospital Board, State Chairman of Farm Services Agency Committee, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation, ASU Museum Advisory Committee, ASU Business School Advisory Committee, ASU Foundation, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Marked Tree Chamber of Commerce, Poinsett County Justice of the Peace, a strong supporter of the Marked Tree Museum-Library, the Marked Tree School system and Girl Scouts and a member of the Marked Tree First United Methodist Church serving on the PPR and Trustees committees.
She was elected Mayor of Marked Tree, to fill the remaining term of Wayne Nichols in September 2013 — becoming the first female mayor of Marked Tree. Arnold was re-elected to the mayor’s position in November 2014.
Dr. Mary L. Good is the Dean Emeritus (Founding Dean) of the College of Engineering and Information Technology (E.I.T.) at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and is presently serving as a Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Economic Development. The E.I.T. College of UALR was organized in 1999 with the approval of the University Of Arkansas System Board Of Trustees and the Legislature. It grew from about 300 students in existing departments to over 1100 in 2012. It has developed nationally recognized programs in System Engineering, Information Quality, Nanotechnology, Modeling and Simulation and Construction Management. It is the linchpin for the workforce required for economic development in Central Arkansas. Good also presently serves on the boards of Saint Vincent Health System, and Delta Bank and Trust, both of Little Rock.
Previously Dr. Good served four years as the Under Secretary for Technology for the Technology Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce, a presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed, position. The Technology Administration is the focal point in the federal government for assisting U. S. Industry to improve its productivity, technology and innovation in order to compete more effectively in global markets. In addition to her role as Under Secretary for Technology, Dr. Good chaired the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technological Innovation (NSTC/CTI), and served on the NSTC Committee on National Security.
Before joining the Clinton Administration, Dr. Good was the senior vice-president for technology at Allied Signal, Inc., where she was responsible for the centralized research and technology organizations with facilities in Morristown, NJ; Buffalo, NY; and Des Plaines, IL. She was a member of the Management Committee and responsible for technology transfer and commercialization support for new technologies. This position followed assignments as President of Allied Signal’s Engineered Materials Research Center, Director of the UOP Research Center, and President of the Signal Research Center. Dr. Good’s accomplishments in industrial research management are the achievements of a second career, having moved to an industrial position after more than 25 years of teaching and research in the Louisiana State University system. Before joining Allied Signal, she was professor of chemistry at the University of New Orleans and professor of materials science at Louisiana State University, where she achieved the university’s highest professional rank, Boyd Professor.
Dr. Good was appointed to the National Science Board by President Carter in 1980 and again by President Reagan in 1986. She was Chairman of that Board from 1988 until 1991, when she received an appointment from President Bush to become a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Dr. Good has also served on the boards of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Cincinnati Milacron, and Ameritech. She was also a member of the National Advisory Board for the State of Arkansas.
Roberta Waugh Fulbright (1874-1953) was a dominant figure in the life of Fayetteville and in the progress of Arkansas, including an unsurpassed devotion to the University of Arkansas. She successfully led a variety of businesses-from banking to manufacturing to real estate. As publisher of the Northwest Arkansas Times, she championed the University of Arkansas, fought political corruption, advocated for social equality for women, and promoted civic causes.
She is also known as the mother of J. William Fulbright, who served as University of Arkansas president and as a U.S. Senator from Arkansas. Her contributions to the community, her advocacy of education as a social good, and her unwavering support of the university were foundations upon which Senator Fulbright built his own public service and political vision.
On March 30, 2012, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved the naming of this dining hall in her honor in gratitude for her life and legacy.
The Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools was formed in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1958. It was established in response to the closing of Little Rock's four public high schools by Governor Orval Faubus. The organization was founded by a group of women led by Adolphine Fletcher Terry, a member of a prominent Little Rock family. Mrs. Terry, Vivion Brewer, and Mrs. J.O. Powell organized the first meeting, which fifty-eight women attended. The stated purpose of the Committee was to inform the people of Little Rock, and Arkansas, of the need for public education and of the price of not having public schools. After the schools were reopened in September 1959, the name was changed to the Women's Emergency Committee (WEC). The membership of the WEC eventually grew to over 1600 women. In the five years of its existence, the WEC opposed Governor Faubus and his forces on numerous occasions. The most successful confrontations for the WEC were the Little Rock School Board recall election in May 1959, in which three Faubus-supported segregationists were removed from the board, and the defeat of Amendment 52, which would have abolished the constitutional guarantee of free public schools, in November 1960. The WEC was also involved in school board and political contests through much of its history, principally the Joe Hardin-Faubus race in 1960 and the Sid McMath-Faubus race in 1962.