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Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame Announces Second Class

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The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame on Thursday announced nine inductees to its second class, which includes two posthumous honorees and one organization.

The nonprofit Women’s Hall of Fame, a partnership between the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Business Publishing Group, began last year with a class of 12.

This year’s inductees will be honored during a ceremony from 6-9 p.m, Aug. 25, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Ticket sales begin Monday and will be available here.

“We consider this second class to be a good complement to last year’s inaugural class,” said Nan Snow, president of the Women’s Hall of Fame board. “We realize that there are many women that deserve this honor, and it is our hope that in the years to come we recognize all of them.”

This year’s contemporary inductees are:
  • Kay Kelley Arnold, former vice president of public affairs for Entergy Corp. and a founding board member of the Arkansas Environmental Defense Alliance and the Little Red River Foundation.
  • Cathy Cunningham, a community development advocate who worked on the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission) and served on many boards to improve education, tourism and more.
  • Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, the first person in Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, the 15th surgeon general of the U.S. and the first African-American — and only the second woman — to head the U.S. Public Health Service.
  • Lottie Shackelford, the first woman mayor of Little Rock in 1987 and was vice chair of the Democratic National Committee for 20 years.
  • Patti Upton, founder and former president and CEO of Aromatique Inc., an international, multi-million dollar decorative fragrance company.
  • Pat Walker, a dedicated philanthropist and the founder of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation and a lifetime member of the board for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The historical inductees are:

  • Dr. Bettye Caldwell, an accomplished college educator who influenced the development of Head Start, an organization that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children.
  • Dr. Betty Lowe, a pioneer in pediatric medical care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the first Arkansas pediatrician to serve as district chair and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The selection committee is also honoring the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a group of women who served wounded soldiers during the Civil War and founded Mount St. Mary Academy and seven Mercy Hospitals.

A selection committee chose the women from more than 200 formal nominations submitted from March 18-May 13. Nominees are not limited to a certain field or accomplishment and can include pioneers, philanthropists, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, business leaders and political figures.

“When choosing these women we look for accomplishments across the state and community,” Snow said. “Some even have national and international accomplishments to consider. It is a wide range of accomplishments that we look at and judge.”

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