The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame (AWHOF) has released its fifth annual class of inductees — seven women and one organization that have made significant contributions to the state and their respective fields.
The inductees, who will be honored at a special ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, are:
Alice Andrews – She was a conservationist and a leading voice for environmental protection in Arkansas. She’s worked to save the Buffalo River from damming and pollution and her conservation efforts led to the preservation of land that would later pave the way for the River Trail, the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Bridge.
Olivia Farrell – From her position in the publication industry, Farrell helped build the Arkansas Times and Arkansas Business Publishing Group into two of the state’s biggest independent multi-media firms. She has championed women in all fields, co-founding the Arkansas Women’s Foundation, which works to ensure economic security for the state’s women and girls.
Jo Luck – As president and CEO of Heifer Project International, she led the organization’s global program and helped expand programs and projects that have provided food security to impoverished people in the U.S. and more than 50 countries around the world. She also served as executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for 10 years.
Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder – She was a journalist and member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for 14 years. She became the first female president of the National Newspaper Association and would eventually serve as president of seven different state and national journalism organizations. She was the lead sponsor of several bills enhancing the Freedom of Information Act, and lead sponsor of a bill creating the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Carolyn Witherspoon – She is a director and founder of the law firm Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon and Galchus. She’s a prominent labor and employment attorney and the first woman to serve as president of the Arkansas Bar Association. She’s supported and created organizations that serve and mentor women. Under her leadership, her firm has garnered many work-life balance awards and achieved majority female ownership.
Diane Frances Divers Kincaid Blair – (1938 – 2000) As an educator, author, public servant, political scientist, and ardent supporter of women’s rights, she was a favorite professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She served as an adviser on the 1992 and 1996 Clinton-Gore presidential campaigns and also worked as official historian. Clinton appointed Blair to the board of directors of the U.S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She became chair and the boardroom was later named in her honor.
Louise McPhetridge Thaden – (1905 – 1979) As an aviation pioneer, Thaden became the first and only pilot to simultaneously hold the women’s records for speed, altitude and solo endurance. She competed and won against Amelia Earhart and others in the first all-women’s transcontinental race. In 1936, she and her co-pilot became the first women to win the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race. She was awarded the Harmon Trophy in 1937, the highest honor given to a female pilot.
Beta Pi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chartered in Little Rock in 1937, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Beta Pi Omega Chapter is committed to providing assistance to families, students and organizations in the community. The chapter’s 265 members spearhead service projects, health fairs, workshops, education programs, cleanups and fundraisers and donate their time and money to improving life for future generations.
The nonprofit Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame began as a partnership between the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Business Publishing Group. The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce currently manages the event. The AWHOF is guided by a board of directors, who earlier this year empaneled a selection committee to seek nominations from the public and choose the class.
“We are pleased to add these Arkansas women to the ranks of past inductees whose leadership and achievements have opened doors and broken down barriers for the future generations that follow behind them, “ said Anna Beth Gorman, Chair of the AWHOF Board, which is comprised of members from across the state.