Carder Hawkins, a former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, is the new chief strategy officer of the nonprofit Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton.
Hawkins’ appointment comes after a 20-year career in state government, and his new role will be “developing, executing, communicating and sustaining strategic initiatives” at the institute, according to a news release. The institute’s mission is to extend the collaborative approach to problem-solving espoused by former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, the Standard Oil heir who was the state’s first Republican governor of the 20th century.
Janet Harris, the institute’s executive director and CEO, took note of Hawkins’ local roots. “As a lifelong resident of Perry County, Carder has deep ties to Petit Jean Mountain and the River Valley area,” she said in the release. “A well-respected and experienced administrator with an excellent record in public service, Carder brings strong communication, leadership, and collaboration skills to our senior team.”
Hawkins’ first state job was in the Arkansas Secretary of State’s elections division for more than eight years. He was the Arkansas Insurance Department’s chief information officer before taking the assistant directorship at Information Systems — where he oversaw human resources, legislative and fiscal affairs, procurement, security, enterprise architecture and IT planning. Most recently, Hawkins was the chief information officer for the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services.
“The decision to leave a long career in state government and join the Institute boiled down to where I could make the most impact, make the biggest difference for Arkansas, and help the most people,” Hawkins said. “Practicing and evangelizing the Rockefeller Ethic with an experienced team is a dream come true. The possibilities for this organization and its people to do great things for Arkansas and our region is endless.”
Hawkins has a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He was also part of the university’s inaugural Community Development Masters class and completed a master’s degree in community development while working full-time at the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.
The institute, which has conference facilities and room accommodations, hosts company workshops, seminars, public lectures and other events focused on improving Arkansas lives and enterprises through what it calls transformational change.