by Max Brantley
I've contributed a mite to the Women's Foundation of Arkansas since its inception because I believe in its purpose of helping move women into leadership positions in Arkansas. I remember that one motivation of one of the founders, publisher Olivia Farrell, was the scarcity of women on the boards of Arkansas companies. The situation hasn't dramatically improved, but the cadre of accomplished women is growing.
And now comes the Foundation with a new emerging leaders program, an eight-month opportunity -- somewhat akin to the Chamber of Commerce leadership program -- to learn more about the community, volunteer in worthy projects and network with others on the upward track.
Good deal. Meet the first group on the jump.
25 Selected For Emerging Leaders Class
Pilot Program Begins in December
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Oct. 1, 2008) -- Twenty five Central Arkansas women have been selected for the inaugural class of Emerging Leaders, a Women's Foundation of Arkansas program designed to inspire, educate and empower Central Arkansas women to affect social change. The eight-month program begins in December, 2008, then picks up in January, 2009, running through October, 2009 (off during summer months).
From diverse backgrounds (nearly 50 percent represent diverse ethnic perspectives) and age range of early-twenties to mid-sixties, these women will meet monthly to study a pressing issue facing Central Arkansas and analyze how government, political, non-profit, corporate and civic institutions shape our collective identity. Through the program, they will gain insight and an insider's view of issues, interact with other key women leaders from different sectors, and see different approaches to philanthropy and leadership.
Kadi Tierney, WFA executive director, expressed excitement about the inaugural class.
"The demographics of the participants are inspiring and will send a powerful message that women representing a variety of ages, races, economic levels and political perspectives are hungry to come together to build a stronger community."
She added, "I can think of no better way to develop leadership than by being with others who, like you, thirst for knowledge, who provide their own unique perspective and who genuinely care about the betterment of our community."
Each member of the class is required to provide both philanthropic and volunteer service support to non-profits that help affect social change.
"It will be a talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk experience," Tierney explained.
Emerging Leaders is a pilot program and if successful, WFA plans to launch other programs in more Arkansas communities. The first class will be introduced at Thursday, October 2's Designing Women style show, "girls' night out," event at the Arkansas Governor's Mansion.
Established in 1998, WFA is the only not-for-profit, statewide organization with the sole focus of developing the professional, economic, and philanthropic potential of Arkansas women and girls by providing the necessary resources, tools and knowledge to reach their full potential.
During its ten years of existence, WFA has awarded over $155,000 in grants, has administered mentoring programs for junior high school-aged girls in four sections of the state, has given birth to a diverse leadership program for women of all ages, has teamed with Wal-Mart to establish an at-work mentoring program, has hosted year-round symposiums on timely topics, and has established a headquarters office and full-time staff in Little Rock. Soon, WFA will launch an aggressive fund-raising campaign so its work can be expanded and strengthened. Statewide headquarters are at 1206 South Main Street in Little Rock, AR 72202. Its website is www.womensfoundationarkansas.org.
The roster of the inaugural class of Emerging Leaders is listed.
Shayla Beebe is the Operations Administrator in the City of Little Rock Attorney's Office. She has taken a break from community involvement while obtaining her Executive Masters of Business Administration and hopes "Emerging Leaders" can help her reengage in the community.
Katie Bodenhamer was a key lawyer on the Beebe Campaign and until recently was working at the Governor?s office.
Jean Block is an Arkansas State Assistant Attorney General in the Public Protection Division. She is very involved in the Arkansas Literary Festival and has been the Chair for the past two years.
Shannon Butler is the Executive Director of City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock. Shannon recently obtained her Masters Degree in Social Work from UALR. Shannon was previously the Deputy Director of the Clinton Foundation.
Kerri Jackson Case is the Director of External Relations for Paschal Strategic Communication. She also serves as the Vice President of Sunday School for Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church.
Amy Curran is an Attorney with the Jones Day Law Firm. She is also a member of the Little Rock Junior League.
Samantha Friedman is the High Profile Writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Samantha moved to Little Rock after graduating with a Masters Degree in Journalism from University of Missouri and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.
Mary Flowers is the Office Administrator for the Flowers Pediatric Clinic. She is also a member of the UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Council and the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.
Terri Garner is the Director of the Clinton Presidential Library. Terri recently moved to Little Rock from Bangor, Maine where she was the Executive Director of the Bangor Museum and Center for History.
Maricella Garcia is the Director for Immigration Services at Catholic Charities. She is currently attending the Bowen School of Law. Maricella will graduate from the Clinton School of Public Service in December.
Lakethia Glenn is the Special Events Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. Lakethia is also a Mentor with the Little Rock School District?s Volunteers In Public Service program.
Megan Hargraves is a Professional Law Clerk for Justice Robert L. Brown with the Arkansas Supreme Court. Megan has a long history of working as an advocate in the Latino community.
Mariah Hatta is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Democratic Party. Mariah has a long political and community organizing background.
Yolanda Hugg is the Recruitment Director for MetLife Financial Services. Yolanda has been very involved in the community including Junior League of Little Rock and Generation Zoo.
Tionna Jenkins Tionna has a Bachelors Degree from Philander Smith College, a Masters of Public Health from UAMS and is working on a PHD in Public Policy from U of A.
Stacy Johnson is the Scheduler and Executive Assistant for the State of Arkansas Attorney General. She is a realtor with Pulaski Heights Real Estate Company.
Valerie Kimbrough is an Events Coordinator at the Clinton Presidential Library and a former Clinton Foundation intern. Valerie graduated from Hendrix College.
Joy Matlock is the Human Resources Manager for Heifer International. Joy also serves on the UALR Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Ronya McLelland is the Senior Vice President of Development for Heifer International. Ronya graduated from Pulaski Technical College in 2001.
Grace Morrissey is the Office and Finance Manager for the Arkansas Literacy Council. Grace is originally from El Salvador.
Maria Reynolds-Diaz is a State Director for the Southwest Region AARP. She is a member of a national work group addressing low income issues on behalf of AARP.
Melissa Simpson is the Senior Insurance Information Program Director for the Arkansas Insurance Department. Melissa is a member of the Arkansas Volunteer Coordinators Association and the American Society of Public Administration Arkansas Chapter.
Julia Strickland is the Business Manager for Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus. She participated in Leadership Greater Little Rock and is also a member of the Junior League of Little Rock.
Rebecca Tennille is the Senior Public Policy account Executive at CJRW. Rebecca graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in English. Additionally, she studied film at UC Berkeley and Spanish and the University of Guadalajara.
Paige Thurmond is the Assistant to the Executive Director of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Paige has been active with Women?s Foundation as a member of the Power of Purse Committee.