The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame will celebrate its inaugural class of inductees at a ceremony Thursday evening at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
The event will honor 11 women and one organization whose accomplishments "merit recognition," according to Nan Snow, president of the AWHOF board.
The nonprofit was born out of a partnership between the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock. A selection committee chose the women from 73 nominees based on their contributions to the state and their respective fields.
The first class of contemporary inductees are:
- Mary Ann Ritter Arnold, the first woman mayor of Marked Tree and the former president of agribusiness and communications firm E. Ritter & Co.
- Betty Bumpers, former Arkansas first lady who led a statewide immunization program for childhood vaccinations.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Arkansas first lady, first lady of the U.S., U.S. senator from New York, and U.S. Secretary of State.
- Dr. Mary Good, founding dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, and former under secretary for technology for the Technology Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Johnelle Hunt, co-founder of publicly traded J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell, one of the largest transportation and logistics providers.
- Dr. Edith Irby Jones, medical doctor, educator, philanthropist who was the first African American to attend and graduate from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
- Alice Walton, founder and board chairman of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
Historic inductees are:
- Daisy Bates, civil rights activist, writer and publisher who played a leading role in the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock.
- Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
- Hester Davis, a leader in the development of cultural resources management legislation and programs who blazed a trail for women in archeology.
- Roberta Fulbright, a prominent Fayetteville business leader and former publisher of the Northwest Arkansas Times who championed the University of Arkansas, fought corruption and advocated for women’s equality.
The AWHOF also chose to honor one organization, the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC), a Civil Rights-era committee formed in Little Rock in response to Gov. Orval Faubus’ efforts to close the city’s four public high schools.
"This is an extraordinary moment," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the announcement of the inductees in June. "[Women] feel very comfortable leading from the front or from behind; they will lead either way. It's important to make sure we do not forget the incredible contributions that women in Arkansas have made."
"The event on Aug. 27 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock will be special not only because we get to induct an accomplished group of honorees, but because we also set in motion an effort to honor our state’s extraordinary women for years to come," Mitch Bettis, president of Arkansas Business Publishing Group, said in a statement.