Wednesday Kudos: Luke Gordy Leaving Post, Rosi Smith Promoted

by Stephanie Baker ( 40 views 

An education leader retires; a health care advocate is promoted; Simmons First National Bank hires two new employees; and Hendrix College lands a $1 million grant.

Luke Gordy, the first executive director of Arkansans for Education Reform Foundation (AERF), has retired from the post, effective June 30, 2013.

Gary Newton, whom Gordy recruited in 2012 to create Arkansas Learns, has been named to also serve as president and CEO of AERF.

Gordy joined AERF in 2005 after a 22-year career in banking. He was a nine-year member and two-term chairman of the Arkansas State Board of Education.

“It has been both an honor, as well as a labor of love, to lead Arkansans for Education Reform over these past eight years,” said Gordy. “The opportunity Messrs. (Jim) Walton, (Walter) Hussman, (Claiborne) Deming, (Steve) Stephens, and now (Bill) Dillard (III) have given me to have what I hope has been a positive impact on the lives of Arkansas school children will never be forgotten.”

The Walton Family Foundation is the principal funder of AERF.

Newton, the former executive vice president of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, assumes additional management responsibilities for AERF following the start-up of Arkansas Learns.

Rosi Smith has been promoted to vice president of Government Relations for Arkansas Children’s Hospital, according to ACH Board of Directors Chairman Tom Baxter.

Since joining Arkansas Children’s Hospital in 1999, Smith has served as director of Government Relations. Smith manages all facets of the hospital’s government relations activities with public officials in city, county, state and federal government as well as the development of an ongoing grassroots program.

“Rosi has helped us achieve so many major successes in government relations that have had such a positive impact on improving the lives of our kids today and helping to ensure their growth and development tomorrow,” explained Baxter. “Promoting Rosi to vice president demonstrates ACH and the ACH Board of Directors’ strategic commitment to improving the state of children’s health in Arkansas.”

Prior to ACH, Smith’s experience included governmental affairs/coordinator of Arkansas Grassroots/Entergy Arkansas, and three positions for former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Hendrix College.

Simmons First National Bank recently announced the addition of Mel Hutchins to the commercial lending staff in the Little Rock region. Hutchins joins Simmons First as Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer. He has worked in the central Arkansas banking industry for 26 years and specifically lending for the past 13 years.

Hutchins attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and holds a degree in finance. In addition, he has completed the Risk Management Association’s Global Cash Flow Analysis and Tax Return Analysis training programs.

Simmons First Investment Group in Little Rock recently announced the addition of Robert Castleberry as Vice President and Manager of Investment Financials and Operations. Prior to joining Simmons First Castleberry most recently served as President of Excel Construction of Arkansas in White Hall, AR. He has also served previously as a Financial Manager with GEO Specialty Chemicals and a Divisional Controller for Century Tube.

Castleberry holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Arkansas Monticello, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Masters of Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Arkansas.

Hendrix College has received a $1 million gift from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Trust of Dallas, Texas. The award will support the completion of the College’s athletics facilities master plan.

Hendrix is completing its new 1,500-seat Young-Wise Memorial Stadium, an indoor tennis center, and a sports training facility at the north end zone of the stadium that will serve Hendrix athletes. Total cost for the three facilities will be approximately $6 million.

The 18,000-sq.-ft. sports training facility will bear the Sturgis name in recognition of the Sturgis Trust’s support.