The Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame on Monday announced its fifth annual group of inductees — seven women and one organization — who will be honored at a ceremony on Aug. 29 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
"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," Anna Beth Gorman, chair of the hall of fame's board and executive director of the Arkansas Women's Foundation, said in a news release.
The goal of the hall is to honor women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Arkansas in their community or the state. The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce manages the event.
This year's inductees are:
Alice Andrews — a conservationist and a leading voice for environmental protection in Arkansas. She's worked to save the Buffalo River from damming and pollution. 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 — a publisher who blazed a trail for Arkansas women, building the Arkansas Times and Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock into two of the state's biggest independent multimedia companies. 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 to provide 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 — a journalist and member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for 14 years, she became the first woman president of the National Newspaper Association and served 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 — a director and founder of the firm Cross Gunter Witherspoon and Galchus. A prominent labor and employment attorney, she was 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.
Historic inductees are:
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.
The organization is also inducting an organization, the 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 hall has inducted new members each year. The organization says nominees are not limited to a certain field or accomplishment and can include pioneers, philanthropists, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, business leaders and political figures.
Tickets to the induction ceremony can be purchased at ARWomensHallofFame.com.