Arkansas News Tidbits – Vital news briefs from across the globe
Arkansas News Tidbits – Vital news briefs from across the globe
Harrison native Ebony Mitchell wins Miss Arkansas 2022
Miss Dogwood Ebony Mitchell won the title of Miss Arkansas 2022 Saturday night at the 84th Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant. The pageant took place at the Robinson Center in Little Rock in front of a crowd of nearly 2000.
Mitchell won a $30,000 scholarship provided by the Ted and Shannon Boy Skokos Foundation and more than $75,000 in awards, wardrobe, transportation, and gifts. She will represent Arkansas at Miss America in Connecticut and will make appearances across the Natural State promoting her personal platform of “A Responsible Digital You” and speaking in support of the goals of the Miss Arkansas and Miss America system. Mitchell was crowned by the outgoing Miss Arkansas, Whitney Williams, of Conway.
Over $209,000 in scholarships were awarded throughout the week to various Miss and Outstanding Teen candidates.
Mitchell is the 25-year-old daughter of Hulene Ongola of Harrison. She is a 2022 Graduate of John Brown University where she received her Master of Health Administration. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 2019. For her talent, she performed a tap dance to “Respect.”
She previously competed in the Miss Arkansas Competition as Miss Metro, Miss UCA, Miss Central Arkansas and Miss North Central Arkansas. She also competed in the Outstanding Teen program as Miss North Central Arkansas' Outstanding Teen, Miss Lakes of the Northwest Outstanding Teen and Miss Northwest Arkansas' Outstanding Teen. Mitchell was first introduced to the Miss Arkansas stage at the age of 9 as a Diamond State Princess for Miss University of Arkansas. Throughout her years competing previously she has accumulated over $20,000 in scholarships.
Our new Miss Arkansas also won the following awards during the week: Preliminary Evening Gown, Preliminary On-Stage Interview, Preliminary Talent Asher Ray Mentor Award, the “All Grown Up” Award, Overall Dance Award, Grace Scholarship in Memory of Madelyn Grace Johnson, Bill Tarkington Overall Evening Gown. Sarah Slocum Overall Private Interview, and Scott Landers Business Profession Marketplace Scholarship
Mitchell took home a total of $44,900 in scholarships from all the awards she won during the week.
First Black commander assumes leadership of Arkansas Army National Guard
Col. Leland Tony Shepherd was promoted to the rank of brigadier general June 12, 2022, and, shortly afterwards, assumed command of the Arkansas Army National Guard in back-to-back ceremonies in an aircraft hangar on Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Leland is the first Black man to take command of the Arkansas Army National Guard.
“I’m incredibly excited to welcome you to the command team,” Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn, Arkansas’ adjutant general said during the change of command ceremony. “You’ve always led by example and from the front. You have exactly the right skill sets to write the next chapter in the history of this great organization.”
Shepherd assumed overall command of the 6,500 Army Guardsmen from Brig. Gen. Bradley J. Cox of Jacksonville, who will become the Arkansas National Guard director of the joint staff. The Arkansas Army National Guard consists of four brigades: 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 77th Theater Aviation Brigade, 87th Troop Command, and the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade.
Penn praised Cox for his leadership the past three years as the state’s National Guard was called out for numerous natural disasters and as Guardsmen responded to the coronavirus pandemic the past two years.
Shepherd, in his comments to the formations of Soldiers assembled, told them his priorities are on personnel first, the mission, readiness, equipment posture, safety, training, adaption of the Army’s new fitness test, and a “diversity program that we all can embrace.”
Shepherd is the first Black general officer to command the Arkansas Army National Guard, and just the second Black general officer in the Arkansas Army National Guard. The first Black general officer was Brig. Gen. William J. Johnson who pinned on the rank on Oct. 16, 2007. Johnson retired in 2012.
Shepherd was born in Guyana, South America. He has a doctoral degree in Executive Leadership from the University of Charleston, West. Va., He has a master’s degree in Information Technology Management from Webster University, Mo., and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Philander Smith College in Little Rock.
Shepherd served two combat tours in Iraq. One in 2004 and one in 2008 as a signal officer on each deployment. He’s been awarded the following medals: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Iraqi Freedom Service Medal. Additionally, he’s been awarded the Combat Action Badge, and the prestigious Order of Mercury, Bronze; for the highest standards of integrity, moral character, professional competence and selflessness, for those who have contributed significantly to the Army Signal Corps.
Think Rubix marketing manager graduates from Little Rock Chamber leadership program
Think Rubix, a strategic agency aimed at social, cultural and brand innovation, announced recently that Marketing Manager Ally Washington has successfully completed the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce’s annual leadership program, a nine-month course intended for emerging leaders in the state’s capital city.
Washington is a graduate of Class XXXVII of Leadership Greater Little Rock. Established in 1985, the program selects individuals with leadership potential and encourages them to become more knowledgeable about the region and involved in the community. More than 1,700 business leaders have participated in the nine-month course since its inception.
Members of the Leadership Greater Little Rock program attended monthly in-depth sessions on topics including the region’s economic development, education, health care and criminal justice systems. Over the course of the program, Washington and other participants were challenged with the issues and opportunities facing the region and introduced to panels featuring local community business leaders.
Washington is an experienced communications professional who prides herself in creating and sharing stories through the intersection of culture and current events. A former award-winning television host and radio personality, Washington uses her digital expertise to provide innovative solutions to Think Rubix and its clients. Washington is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in public relations.
Founded in 2017, Little Rock-based Think Rubix is a culture-first public affairs firm that helps executives, leaders and decision-makers working to improve corporate, government and social environments to harness the elusive power of culture by offering public engagement, equity innovation, and storytelling services.
Gov. Hutchinson appoints Pine Bluff native to University of Arkansas Board of Trustees
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed Colonel (U.S. Army, Retired) Nathaniel “Nate” Todd, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
Colonel Todd is a 37-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserve, where his roles included Director of Health Financial Policy for the U.S Army Surgeon General and Chief Financial Officer for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Colonel Todd is replacing Dr. Stephen Broughton, whose 10-year term expired in March. Colonel Todd’s term will expire in March 2032.
“Nate Todd has devoted his entire life to the service of the United States, starting at Pine Bluff High School where he was a member of the Junior Air Force ROTC,” Governor Hutchinson said. “His appointment as a University of Arkansas trustee is a natural extension of his career of caring for his state and nation. Colonel Todd is a quiet man whose compassion and faith drives all that he does. I am grateful he has agreed to serve. His wisdom and kindness are critical at this time in the history of the University of Arkansas.”
Colonel Todd was chief financial officer of the Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System in February 2017 when Governor Hutchinson appointed him as director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2019, Governor Hutchinson appointed Colonel Todd as the first Cabinet Secretary Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs after the General Assembly passed the Governor’s government transformation initiative.
“I give glory to God for His limitless blessings,” Colonel Todd said. “I am honored and deeply grateful to Governor Hutchinson for his confidence in me, thankful for the unending support from my family, and appreciative of the Pine Bluff community and its educators who inspired me to be a life-long learner. I am eager to serve with the other trustees and to learn from them and Dr. Bobbitt, as we build on the work of those who came before us. I am humbled for the opportunity to share my life experiences and to join other leaders as we serve the University of Arkansas System to continue its journey toward even greater heights in support of Arkansas students and faculty.”
Colonel Todd earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology from the University of Houston; a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from Baylor University; and a Chief Financial Officer Leadership Certification from the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. Todd’s military assignments have taken him to Fort Bliss and William Belmont Medical Center in El Paso, Texas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Falls Church, Virginia; Bethesda, Maryland; and internationally to Seoul, South Korea, and Bremerhaven, Germany.
Colonel Todd served as Parish Council Lay Leader in several Military Faith Communities, chair of the Trustee Board at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lawton-Fort Sill, Okla., and studied stewardship at the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. He is also a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.
SBA partners with “Divine Nine” to provide small business resources to Black entrepreneurs
Isabella Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on June 14 signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM) on June 14 on behalf of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)’s Council of Presidents, comprised of nine historically Black fraternities and sororities, sometimes referred to as the “Divine Nine.”
“This historic alliance between the SBA and the NPHC—the first of its kind for a government agency—will bring SBA’s valuable small business resources into reach for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, furthering the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build equity and close historic wealth gaps that have held back America’s Black entrepreneurs, small business owners and their families and communities for generations,” said Administrator Guzman. “Over the past 18 months, the SBA has made incredible progress reaching more of America’s small businesses, delivering vital resources and support to entrepreneurs who have been historically underinvested in and overlooked—the same people and communities hit hardest by the COVID pandemic.
According to Guzman, the SBA will work with Divine Nine partners and allies to provide even greater reach for the Biden administration “to better provide the highly entrepreneurial Black community access to networks, financial literacy, technical training, and capital readiness so they can successfully realize their American Dreams of business ownership, create jobs, and advance our economy.”
Announced in the leadup to Juneteenth, this new strategic alliance advances the SBA’s implementation of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to building equity throughout the federal government and across America. Under the new alliance, a unique agreement for a federal government agency, the partnership will focus on increasing financial literacy within traditionally underserved, disadvantaged communities, expanding the Agency’s outreach, and introducing Black entrepreneurs to the SBA’s suite of tools and resources to start and grow their businesses including access to capital, government contracting opportunities and counseling.
“The National Pan Hellenic Council and its affiliate organizations are very excited about this opportunity with the (SBA),” said Reuben Shelton III, Esq., chairman of the Council of Presidents of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Grand Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. “This collaboration will give NPHC members critical access to information that will promote small business growth and create jobs in all sectors of our economy.”
Often represented on thousands of university campuses, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the NPHC boasts over 2.5 million active members and scores of alumni members. Taken together, this group of engaged leaders is a critical ally in helping building trust within key communities and introducing small business owners to critical resources to bolster their business outcomes as we seek to close the wealth gap. The NPHC organizations include the Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity Inc., and the Iota Phi Theta fraternities. The sororities include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho.
Retired Army general named president of Hampton University
Ret. U.S. Army Gen. Darrell K. Williams took office as the new president of Hampton University on July 1, over 39 years after graduating from the historically Black university with a bachelor’s degree.
Williams, a three-star general, business leader and educator with nonprofit development experience, said his focus will be creating an unparalleled higher education experience for students that includes excellent academics, support for strong physical, emotional, and mental health, and access to cutting-edge technology, research opportunities and innovative studies.
With the continuing support of its exceptional faculty, staff, and alumni, Williams said he sees a bold, bright future for Hampton University. Board of Trustees Chairman Wesley Coleman said the board is excited about Hampton’s future under Williams, who was selected to lead the HBCU by the Hampton, Va.-based board of trustees on March 30.
“I love Hampton and the opportunities provided to me here. The university’s values and standard of excellence will not change,” Williams said. “As the new president, my priority will be providing our students with a robust experience that is second to none and prepares them for life after graduation.”
President Williams and first lady Myra Richardson Williams also met while attending Hampton. They were married in 1987 and are the first president and first lady to both hold Hampton degrees. While a student, the president was Mister Freshman 1979, a three-year Reserve Officer Training (ROTC) scholarship cadet, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and senior class president. Myra Williams was a four-year member of the Hampton concert choir and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Williams retired from the U.S. Army in 2020 after 37 years of service. His last leadership position was as the first Black and 19th director of the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). He oversaw a global workforce of over 26,000 civilian and military professionals. Williams previously worked at Fortune 250 technology company Reston, Va.-based Leidos, where he served as vice president and managing director of the company’s United Kingdom Ministry of Defense Logistics Commodities and Services Transformation (LCST) program.