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Leadership Texarkana graduates largest class to date

by From Staff Reports | May 28, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
The Leadership Texarkana class of 2022 poses for a group photo at their retreat. (Photo by Leadership Texarkana)

Forty-nine Texarkana area residents completing the year-long Leadership Texarkana community leadership program were honored by the Leadership Texarkana organization at an end-of-year celebration April 26 at the home of Executive Director Ruth Ellen Whitt.

The sponsoring partner for the event was State Bank.

"During each monthly session of the year, members of the LT Class of 2022 were also challenged through Strategic Doing-focused groups to lead the way as change agents, in maximizing our ecosystem's capacity to attract, retain and unleash the talent foundational for excellence," according to a Leadership Texarkana news release. "At the same time, class members were also learning the basics of the powerful and proven Strategic Doing processes for gathering groups in working together for progress."

Class projects included:

• Amtrak Station Beautification to ensure community gateway excellence

• goTXK content developed to inform the public of community resources

• New networks to promote youth programs in the community

• Workshop to engage youth with Texarkana history

• Fostering goTXK focus through What's to Love Fun with TikTok

• New video resources to attract talent to Texarkana

• Foundational plans created for Activated Alleys in downtown

Leadership Texarkana has been offered for 43 years. Applications for the 2022-23 can be found and completed online at The deadline for application is June 23.

On Thursday, June 9, Leadership will host an after-hours recruitment social for area residents interested in applying to the 2023 class.


2022 Leadership Texarkana Graduates


Amber Adams, Director, Partner Development, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce

Amber Adams is a graduate of Texas A&M University – Texarkana, earning a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Communications. In 2017, Adams joined Methodist Retirement Communities, where she advocated and helped seniors in retirement living, which ultimately brought her to Texarkana. In May 2021, she took the role as Director of Partner Development for the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and oversees chamber partnerships, growing relations, the ambassador program and GTYP. In the past year, she has accomplished Strategic Doing Practitioner Training, was awarded "Outstanding Performance" in Dale Carnegie Training, and accepted into the ACCE (Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives) Sales Program for 2022.

Shelby Akin, Director, Marketing and Communication, Pleasant Grove ISD

A graduate of Pleasant Grove High School and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, Akin is a proud Texarkana native. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Akin taught at Pleasant Grove Middle School for four years and graduated from Texas A&M-Texarkana with a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. In 2018, Akin became the Director of Marketing and Communications for Pleasant Grove ISD where she manages daily communication, branding, public relations, and marketing for the district as well as serving as the district liaison for the Pleasant Grove Education Foundation. In 2021, Akin received the Texas School Public Relations Association Rookie of the Year award. Akin is married to her husband, Kyle, and they enjoy spoiling their rescue dog, Barry.

Marcus Bellamy, Executive Pastor/Head of School, Trinity Baptist Church

Marcus Bellamy was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. His call to full-time Christian service led Marcus to pursue a bachelor's degree at William Jennings Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. He graduated from Bryan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education. Soon after graduating from Bryan College, God led Marcus to Dallas, Texas to pursue and complete his Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Marcus has had the unique privilege of gaining both corporate and ministry experience during his life journey. He worked for Albertson's, Inc. as an Employee Relations Administrator for the Southern Region, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship as the Senior Associate Pastor, and currently as the Head of School and Executive Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. Marcus married his beautiful and godly wife, Patricia, in May 2002. She has worked for Raytheon Technologies for over 30 years as an engineer. Marcus and Patricia are the parents of three children -- daughters Faith, 17, and Teela, 14, and son Clyde, 9.

Toni Braley, Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Lending, Commercial National Bank

Toni Braley has been employed at Commercial National Bank of Texarkana for over 19 years. During her time at CNB, she has worked in many positions, including teller, operations and lending. She currently holds the position of Mortgage Loan Originator and Assistant Vice President. Toni grew up in Maud, Texas, where she graduated a Maud Cardinal. She attended college at Texarkana College and went on to graduate from Texas A&M-Texarkana with her Bachelor of Business Administration in finance. Toni currently lives in Maud with her family. She has been married to her husband, Josh, for 19 years. Together they have two children, Jaxon, 14, and Abbi, 12. When she is not at work, Toni enjoys spending time camping and going to the lake with her family and friends. Toni's personal mission statement is, "To be a woman of character and integrity who is compassionate and an inspiring leader."

Doug Brubaker, Superintendent, Texarkana ISD

Dr. Doug Brubaker joined Texarkana Independent School District as superintendent in January 2021. Over a career spanning 27 years, he has also served in a variety of leadership roles in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and as superintendent of Fort Smith Public Schools in Arkansas. Over the past year, Dr. Brubaker and his team have launched the TISD Imagine 2026 Strategic Planning Initiative, working extensively with stakeholders to identify and prioritize the district's greatest needs. Dr. Brubaker said his involvement in Leadership Texarkana was a great experience because provided opportunities to establish strong working relationships with Texarkana-area leaders and to learn more about strengths and needs within the community. Dr. Brubaker has a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas, a Master of Education from Texas Christian University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. Doug and his wife, Heather, have been married for 24 years and have a daughter who attends school in TISD.

Chiquita Burks, Co-owner, C&C Attitudes Hair Salon

Chiquita Burks of Texarkana, Arkansas, joyfully acknowledges her goal in life: "To help others along the way." She is the mother of Four Mighty Men of Valor -- Antonio, Anthony, Antron and Andonique; and grandmother to six delightful children -- Saniya, Jalon, Noah and Azaria, Deliyah and Brielle. Daughter of the late J.D. and Mary Watson, Chiquita is the sixth of seven siblings. She is a 1983 graduate of Arkansas High School and currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Texas A&M-University-Texarkana. A member of Lonoke Baptist Church and an entrepreneur, Chiquita is co-owner of C&C Attitudes and the owner of Chiquita's Boutique at 518 Wood St. Chiquita's community involvement includes membership with the TRAHC Texarkana African American Committee, where she pursues her love of the arts, drama, history and theater. She also is the co-founder of The Scholars nonprofit organization that provides mentorship for children ages 9 to 18. Burks said The Scholars has afforded her the opportunity to "spread God's word," which is her sole passion in life.

LaMoya N. Burks, Head Librarian/Adjunct Instructor/Faculty Adviser, Texarkana College

LaMoya N. Burks is a native of Texarkana Texas. She has a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She also has a master's degree in library and information science with graduate academic certificates in advanced management in library and information agencies and digital content management. Burks is a doctoral candidate at A&M–Texarkana. She was appointed as Library Commissioner for the city of Texarkana, Texas, and named to the Committee of Literacy and Committee of Legislation with American Library Association. Additionally, she is serving the Bowie and Miller Counties Literacy Council Advisory Council and TAMUT Alumni Association. Burks works collaboratively with 104 library professionals to develop skill and research through the Harvard Library Institute at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Kappa Xi Omega Chapter. She also is a radio talk show host for KTOY 104.7FM.

Samantha (Sam) Coleman, Principal, North Heights, Texarkana Arkansas School District

Samantha Bryant-Coleman became the principal of North Heights Community School after serving as the principal of Union Elementary for two years and as the co-principal of College Hill Middle School for two years prior. Before becoming an administrator, Samantha taught pre-K through fourth grades at Kilpatrick Elementary in Texarkana, Arkansas, and Theron Jones Elementary in Texarkana, Texas. A product of College Hill, Samantha graduated from Genoa Central High School before going on to earn four college degrees from Texarkana College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana, including two Master's degrees, including educational leadership. As a proud resident of Texarkana, Arkansas, Samantha has worked for several years with the Junior League of Texarkana, including the past two years on the board, to help improve her community. And she plans to bring that same passion for community service to The Heights.

Justin Copeland, Credit Manager, Truman Arnold Companies

Justin was born in Tyler, Texas, and graduated high school from Lindale ISD in 2010. He received a full scholarship to play baseball at both Texarkana College and the University of Texas–Arlington and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management in 2014. At Texas A&M University-Texarkana, he earned an MBA in 2019. After UTA, Justin worked as a loan administrator/officer for three years at State Bank and Red River Credit Union before joining Truman Arnold Companies as a credit manager in January 2018. He has been married for seven years to Bethany. They have two daughters, Emmy and Ellie. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending quality time with his family.

Jennifer Cunningham, Director of Student Relations, University of Arkansas-Hope/Texarkana

Jennifer (Wright) Cunningham was raised in Southwest Arkansas and is now proud to call husband Bryant's hometown of Texarkana home. With over a decade of experience in college admissions and enrollment, Jennifer serves as the Director of Student Relations at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, where she sustains the planning and execution of recruitment activities, strategic communication, and New Student Orientation. She's also putting her Master of Science in Sports Administration and passion for health to good use as the Personal & Community Health Instructor for UAHT's Collegiate Academy. As a member of Leadership Texarkana, the Greater Texarkana Young Professionals and the most recent host of KLFI's "Down the Line," Jennifer is enthusiastic to experience and promote the enriching qualities of the Texarkana community. She once won the Congeniality award at an international pageant.

Emily Curry, Loan Servicing Workleader, Farmers Bank & Trust

Emily Curry grew up in DeKalb and Hooks. She graduated from Hooks High School in 2015 and is pursuing a degree at the University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkana. Emily joined Farmers Bank & Trust in 2017, where she has worked as a teller, retail banker, lead teller, teller mentor, loan servicing clerk and loan servicing workleader. She is married to Colby Curry, and they welcomed their son, Nolan Curry, in January 2021. Emily loves to travel, meet people from all backgrounds, and experience new things. Her dream is to build a business that can not only be passed down for generations, but can contribute to the economic value of our community.

Val De La Garza, Director of Human Resources, TaMolly's

Val grew up in Greenville, Texas. After graduating high school he started working for TaMolly's while going to college, and eventually graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce with a Bachelor of Business Administration. After graduating college, Val went to work for Pepsi as a territory sales manager in Oklahoma, Bank of America as a branch manager in Richardson, Texas, and Advance Foods as a production coach in Enid, Oklahoma before he came back to work for TaMolly's as a general manger. Val has worked as a general manager for TaMolly's in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and opened up a new store for TaMolly's in Bossier City, Louisiana. After getting his MBA, he became the human resources director for TaMolly's Corporate Office. Val has three children, Clara, Malachi, and Elias, and two grandchildren, Aydrian and Adam.

Patrick Dodd, Financial Adviser, Edward Jones Investments

Patrick is a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Texarkana. He started his business in 2019; before that, he was in maintenance and industrial sales for the tri sate area. Patrick graduated Foreman Public Schools in 2010 and the same year attended Southern Arkansas University to pursue bachelor's degree in Business Management. "From the very beginning of my business school years, I knew that I wanted to be a Financial Advisor." Patrick started his practice right before COVID and started his business from scratch. "My first day as an advisor, I worked out of my car and knocked on doors to create my clients." Now he has a well-established office in Texarkana and plans to remain there until retirement in 30 years.

Rhonda Dolberry, Retired Social Worker, Texas Department of Human Services

Rhonda Kaye Dolberry is a member of the Miles Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. On the local level serves as the Director of Christian Education, Church Conference Secretary, Adult Sunday School Teacher. On the Regional level, serves as the Arkansas Regional Treasurer of the Department of Christian Education of the CME Church. As a 14 year breast cancer survivor, Rhonda is currently a member of the nonprofit cancer survivorship organization, Tough Kookie Foundation, serving as a community volunteer/breast cancer survivor spokesperson. Rhonda's community involvement include serving as both a current and past officer and member of several local organizations which include: The Debonaire-Pandora Social and Civic Club, Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Committee, TRAHC African American Committee, President of the Rosehill Neighborhood Improvement Association, Miller County Master Gardener, and a member of the Texarkana Anti Litter Campaign. In addition to volunteering with the aforementioned organizations, Rhonda currently serves as the vice president and co-founder of the nonprofit youth organization The Scholars.

Del Doughty, Dean, College of Arts and Science, Education; Texas A&M University-Texarkana

Dr. Del Doughty is Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education and Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. Prior to arriving here in 2016, Doughty was an English professor and a dean at Huntington University. He has published two collections of poetry and several articles on modern literature over the past 20 years and, as a storyteller, has performed on several stages in the South and Midwest.

Jay Ellington, City Manager, City of Texarkana, Arkansas

Jay Ellington has been a public servant for many years, serving numerous communities in leadership, management, marketing, tourism, parks and recreation, economic development, and capital development, communities including: Ruston, Louisiana; Corpus Christi, Texas; Butte-Silver Bow County, Montana; Prince William County, Virginia; San Bernardino County, California; Shreveport, Louisiana; Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana; Bastrop, Louisiana. Jay's education includes:University of Virginia--Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Senior Executive Institute (2008); Centenary College (MBA, 1992); Louisiana Tech University (BS, 1973). He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Grambling State University (Louisiana) and George Mason University (Virginia) and as an instructor at Mini University (Prince William County, Virginia) He is a credentialed manager with ICMA and a member of the Texas City Management Association. He has recently applied for membership in the Arkansas City Managers Association. Jay and his wife, Kathy, have three children.

Vashil Fernandez, Interim Director Planning/Commercial Development, Texarkana, Texas

Vashil Fernandez describes himself as a servant of God and family man. The native of Jamaica serves as the director of Planning and Community Development for the city of Texarkana, Texas. He graduated from Valparaiso University with a bachelor's degree in international business and master's degrees in international economics and finance, and international commerce and policies. He retired from professional sports in 2019 and started working with the city that year. Vashil is married to Bridget, who teaches at Pleasant Grove, and they have three daughters -- Maia, Olivia and Kadence. Vashil has a passion for development and loves to serve the community.

Gary G. Gathright, Engineer, Ledwell

Gary Gathright has lived in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas going on 49 years. Graduating from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Class of 1996, he began his career with SMI Joist in Hope, Arkansas as a Production Services Engineer. In November of 1998, Gary joined the team at Ledwell, helping to design all facets of the various product lines, supporting the sales staff, and providing plant services to the entire campus. He is involved with the Twice As Fine Wine Festival and the Texarkana Museum Systems, serves on the Board for the Alzheimer's Alliance and as a member of the Supervisory Committee for the Milway Federal Credit Union Board. Gary lives in Texarkana with his wife, Nancy, and their three children, Cavan, Madalyn, and Elicia.

Hunter Gillispie, Quality Engineer, Cooper Tire/Goodyear

Hunter works at Cooper Tire as a Quality Engineer. He was born and raised in Kentucky and moved to Texarkana in 2018 after graduating from the University of Kentucky. Hunter loves giving back to the community when the opportunity arises and always finds time for working with the community's youth, including youth at the Baptist children's home. He loves helping someone out, believing that is what makes a community.

Wesley Goodson, Licensed Professional Counselor, Wesley Goodson Counseling

Wesley Goodson owns her own mental health counseling business, Wesley Goodson Counseling, L.L.C., and has been in business since 2019. Wesley received her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling in 2018 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She recently moved back home with her husband, Jacob. They are currently in their second home remodel since moving back home. Wesley always finds time for mental health awareness and LGBT, and is an active advocate for mental health awareness. When she is not working, Wesley enjoys spending time with her husband and our animals; she also enjoys cooking and trying out new restaurants in the community.

Brittney Haynes, Marketing Representative, Signature Care Emergency Center

Brittney is the marketing representative and physician liaison for SignatureCare Emergency Center. In her work, Brittney creates and maintains relationships with healthcare providers, our community, and everyone in-between. Brittney's primary focus is making sure the public is aware of Signature's patient care and their state-of-the-art facility. Brittney also works with many different local organizations and school districts on events, programs, and sponsorships. One of her greatest accomplishments is graduating from Henderson State University with a major in Political Science and a double minor in Spanish and History. Brittney comes from a huge family and married into an even bigger one, and loves spending time with all.

Natalie Haywood, Director of Events and Communication, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce

Natalie Haywood resides in Texarkana, Arkansas and is employed by the Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce. Professionally, she plans events and markets the Chamber. Personally, she chases after two kids who are raiding the pantry or riding motorcycles. Natalie has worked as a graphic designer at Four States Living Magazine, and as a marketing coordinator at TSD Logistics in Nash, Texas. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2011 and is a proud alumnus of Texas High in Texarkana. Words that describe her are precisionist, respectable, logical, leader, practical, and loyal. In 2013, she received the "Crashing Through" award while participating in the Dale Carnegie course. Where does Natalie see herself in 10 years? She wants to continue being a leader in the Texarkana community.

Jacob Hill, Associate Attorney, Norton, Wood and Floyd

Jacob Hill was born in North Carolina, but his family moved to Texarkana when I was two-years old. Texarkana has always been his home, and he feels lucky to be back home and able to become a member of this community. The partners at Norton and Wood have made him feel incredibly welcomed and he looks forward to being able to become someone in Texarkana who helps others feel just as welcomed.

Belinda Hutcheson, Pediatrician/Medical Director, Temple Memorial Pediatric Center

Belinda is a practicing pediatrician. After completing her training at Arkansas Children's Hospital in 2001, she moved to her husband's hometown, Texarkana, and joined Collom and Carney Clinic. In 2004 the opportunity to join "All for Kids" Pediatric clinic as medical director; the clinic is affiliated with UAMS and Special Health Resources, where she continues to serve the children of Texarkana to date. In 2010 she became the Medical Director of Temple Memorial Pediatric Center and continues to serve in that role to date. Although she loves her career, her main focus has always been her family and children. Working part-time has allowed her to be "present" in their lives coaching their t-ball, soccer, and volleyball teams; attending school parties and dances; and picking them up from school every day. In her free time she has enjoyed being involved in the PG Education Foundation, PG PTA, Texarkana Soccer Association, and teaching Bible study at First Baptist Church texarkana. She has also enjoyed using her skills to serve on many medical mission trips to Guatemala, Honduras and Peru.

Drake Kennedy, Deputy Director of Logistics, Red River Army Depot

Drake Kennedy spent the better part of his childhood as a military brat. His father retired from the military in Texarkana. As a result he graduated from Liberty-Eylau and claims Texarkana as his home. Drake has amassed different skillsets by working different jobs throughout his career ranging from web designer to logistician. He started working in the Execution Division at Red River Army Depot in 2007. After working in the Execution Division as an Expediter, Asset Planner and Capacity Planner Drake was promoted to Inventory Management Division as the Division Chief. After three years there he went on to become the Production Planning Division Chief and then the Deputy Director for Logistics. He's a thought-provoking leader and team builder whose primary goals in life is to learn, train and mentor. Drake's a people person (talkative) who loves his family and most sports.

Chuck Lincavage, Loan Officer, Commercial National Bank

Chuck is a Texarkana native who has always been proud of his hometown and upbringing. In 2017, he decided to relocate from Dallas, Texas and get reconnected with the growing community of Texarkana. Chuck serves as an Ambassador for the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and is an active member with GTYP. He strongly believes that in order to make a difference in the community, you need to get off the sidelines and into the game. He enrolled in Leadership Texarkana to get involved with like-minded individuals in building a better Texarkana for future generations. Chuck has more than 10 years of experience in the Banking industry and is currently serves as Loan officer and Security officer for Commercial National Bank. He enjoys spending quality time with his wife and daughter, playing golf, and being outdoors.

Luke Loe, Minister, Lewisville Church of Christ

Luke was born and raised in Texarkana and, aside from two years of college, has lived in the Texarkana area all his life. He graduated from Texas High School in 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Heritage Christian University and a Master of Science in Organization, Learning & Technology from Texas A&M University--Commerce. Luke is passionate about education and has experience tutoring and substitute teaching. He is also a licensed EMT. He is a minister and has served numerous churches in the Texarkana area. Luke is currently the Minister for the Church of Christ in Lewisville, Arkansas and Vice President for Conifer Area Properties in Texarkana, Arkansas.

Stephanie Maddox, Real Estate Sales Agent; Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Infinity

Stephanie was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up across the state line in Southaven, Mississippi. With a mother who was from Texarkana, Stephanie spent a lot of time here when little. She was sure she never wanted to live here, but then met and married a Texarkana boy. Stephanie's husband, Scott, took a job with Walsh Distribution in 1995, which moved them here, where they built a house and settled into the community. When Walsh closed its operation in 2002, the family moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, but for only two years. While they loved South Carolina, they were just too far from home, so when the opportunity presented itself to come home, they took it. Stephanie said her career as a local real estate agent makes it imperative to be informed about the community. The three things Stephanie loves most in this world are Jesus, her family and the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Brock McCorkle, President, State Bank

Brock began the Leadership Texarkana program as Chief Financial Officer at State Bank, a community bank in Northeast Texas; in that position, Brock was responsible for overseeing the operations of the organization. In January, Brock was promoted and named President of State Bank. Prior to joining State Bank, Brock was the Chief Financial Officer of Townes TeleCommunications, Inc, a privately-held communications company that had offices in seven states. Brock holds a degree in accounting from Ouachita Baptist University and is a CPA. Brock and his wife, Kimberly, have a 6-year-old daughter (Dossyn) and 3-year-old son (Hudson). Brock grew up in Hope, Arkansas, spent my college years in Arkadelphia, AR, and has been a Texarkana resident for the last 11 years.

Megan McMahen, Corporate Sales Trainer, BWI Companies

Megan McMahen is originally from Magnolia, Arkansas. She lived in Northwest Arkansas for eight years, three of which she spent earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences. She then worked as a territory manager for BWI Companies. BWI offered her the opportunity to move back to SWARK in October of 2020. Megan now serves many roles at the BWI Corporate Office such as sales trainer, IT liaison and Animal Health Marketing Manager. Megan loves all the agriculture markets that BWI serves and how she can play a role in it. Megan loves helping the BWI team to learn more, be more efficient and in turn be more successful at serving their customer base. Megan loves to learn and develop her leadership skills both in and out of work.

Scott Megason, Services Division Commander, Texarkana, AR Police Department

Scott Megason is a lifelong resident of Texarkana. He is a graduate of Texas High School and Texarkana College. Scott began his career with the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department in March of 1992. He is also a graduate of the University of Arkansas Systems Criminal Justice Institute's School of Law Enforcement and Arkansas Leader, an FBI recognized command college. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in December of 2018. During his years in Law Enforcement Scott has been assigned as an officer and supervisor in the Patrol Division, Services Division, Special Operations Section, Bi-State (8th South) Narcotics Task Force and the Criminal Investigation Division. Lt. Megason served as a Field Training Officer, member of the Advisory Board, Coordinator for the Explorer Program, as well as the Public Information Officer for the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department. Additionally, Lt. Megason serves as a coordinator for the Hostage Negotiation Unit for TAPD SWAT team.

Angelo Mitchell, Chief Information Officer, Red River Credit Union

Angelo Mitchell was selected in April 2021 to serve as Red River Credit Union's chief information officer. As the CIO, Angelo serves as a technology adviser to all Credit Union staff in regards to the use of technology solutions to exceed member expectations. He serves as the lead resource for coordinating and managing the various necessary duties within the Information Technology department. Prior to his selection as CIO, Angelo served as the IT Director for Collom and Carney Clinic, where he managed projects, security initiatives, and staff to best suit patient care. Angelo has over 20 years of experience in designing, implementing and supporting technology initiatives and a passion for leading other IT personnel to realize their own professional potential.

Samantha Mitchell, Escrow Officer, Capital Title of Texas

Samantha Mitchell moved to Texarkana in 2008 for a landman position in south Arkansas after receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Central Missouri. She has been married to her husband Micah Mitchell for almost 10 years and together they are raising two daughters, Sophie and Maggie. She was one of the first Escrow Officers hired with Capital Title of Texas when they opened their new location in Texarkana, Texas in 2019. She is proud to be a part of such a strong team and has enjoyed building new relationships with the local businesses in her community. She has over 13 years of experience in the title industry and is proud to call Texarkana home.

John Moran, Chief Financial Officer, TexAmericas Center

John has over 30 years of experience in both state and local governmental entities. Before joining the TexAmericas Center team, John served as a Director of Finance (as well as the City Manager) in several other Texas cities. Prior to that, John had a career in law enforcement. He possess an MBA and a M.S. in Management and Organization from the University of Colorado, as well as being a licensed Master Peace Officer and a Certified Public Manager. During his off time, John enjoys traveling, beekeeping, and restoring classic vehicles.

Meghann Neely, Project Manager, CHRISTUS St. Michael

Meghann Neely is a native of Texarkana, Texas where she is a Project Manager for CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System; she joined the CHRISTUS St. Michael Family in November of 2017. Meghann received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR. Meghann has been married to Texarkana native Daniel Neely for the past twelve years. Together the couple raise their 6-year-old son, Jackson, and 1-year-old daughter, Hadley. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and camping any chance they get.

Lucia Jayde Ochoa, Coordinator of Bilingual Curriculum/Instruction, Texarkana ISD

Lucía Jaydeli Ochoa was born in México and moved to the United States when she was a teenager. Lucia graduated with an Associate's Degree from the University of Arkansas- Cossatot Community College, a Bachelor's Degree from Southern Arkansas University, and a Master's Degree from Texas A&M, Texarkana. Lucia is married, and she and her husband are blessed to claim their niece, Nazaret as their 17-year-old daughter and Jayden, their 7-year-old son. Lucia's family moved to Texarkana seven years ago, and they started a small farm shortly after that. Lucia has been in education for 11 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and now a coordinator. She have been with TISD for seven years, and currently serves as the Coordinator of Bilingual Curriculum and Instruction.

Suki O'Neal, Senior Marketing Specialist, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System

Suki is a native of New Boston, Texas, and a resident of Texarkana, Arkansas. She was recently recruited to join the Marketing Department at CHRISTUS St. Michael. Suki has a 15-year background in banking and another eight years in sales and marketing. Her biggest personal goal and accomplishment was graduating with her BGS in December of 2021. Her second biggest achievement was co-founding a 501C3 nonprofit organization here in Texarkana called The Friends for a Cause Foundation. FFAC advocates for seven different causes in the community: cancer, education, pediatrics, geriatrics, military/law enforcement, pet and animal rescue, and anything community-related. Suki believes it is time to take the efforts of FFAC to the next level in order to make a stronger impact in the community. Suki has been married for six years to her husband, Warren O'Neal. They travel as often as time will allow and they have one fur baby named Lollie.

Jarrett Sharp, Warehouse Shift Supervisor, Cooper Tire and Rubber

Jarrett Sharp is a supervisor at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, where he is responsible for planning and fulfilling outbound shipments of tires to customers around the world. In 2012, he graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a double major in Management Information Systems and Organizational Management. After graduation, he started working as a customer service representative in a call center where he was ultimately promoted to a team lead. He started working for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in 2014 as an expeditor technician and was promoted to a supervisor in 2017. In 2020, he obtained his certification as a six-sigma green belt. He is currently planning to start a Master of Business Administration program in the fall of 2022.

Mendy Sharp, Executive Director of Business Development, Texarkana College

Mendy Sharp has spent over two decades in the field of education working at local ISDs and currently serving as Executive Director of Community and Business Education at Texarkana College. She has a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction as well as her Texas Principal and Superintendent Certifications. During her time as an educator, she has had the privilege to teach in the elementary classroom where she was named teacher of the year in 2009. She transitioned from elementary to secondary Assistant Principal, then served at the district level as a Curriculum Director and High School Principal before her more recent transition to post-secondary. Mendy has also served as adjunct faculty at TAMUT where she taught two undergraduate education courses. She is a first-generation college graduate and completed all of her higher education at Texarkana College and Texas A&M Texarkana. She considers it an honor to give back to the institutions and the community that invested in her education and professional opportunities. She considers continuous learning as one of her greatest passions and strives to model and instill that passion in others.

Rex Simmons, Senior Manager, Accounting and Finance, Truman Arnold Companies

Rex is a Texarkana native who recently moved back to the area after living in the DFW metroplex for the last ten years. His background includes various financial executive positions with public and private companies. This includes serving as Controller for several divisions of GEE Group and Finance Director over the U.S., Canadian and Mexican operations of Gattaca PLC . Rex and his wife, Brianna, moved to Texarkana in 2020 when Rex joined The Arnold Companies as their Senior Manager of Accounting and Finance. For TAC, Rex works primarily with the company's fuel trading accounting, reporting and recruiting. He holds a BBA in Accounting from SMU and an MBA from UT Austin. He is a proud graduate of Trinity Christian School.

Ashley Smalley, Community Outreach Marketing, Special Health Resources

Ashley M. Smalley was born and raised in Texarkana Texas, in a small community within Liberty-Eylau called Grandview. Growing up the youngest of three girls , Ashley considered herself an optimist, but shortly thereafter life had a funny way of teaching her that she is an optimist , a cynic and a realist all wrapped in one. Ashley believes that in life, we meet people for a reason, season or a lifetime. Ashley's passion has always been helping people "connect the dots", and her current and past positions have allowed her to do just that. Ashley is the Community Outreach/ Marketing person at Special Health Resource for both Texas and Arkansas clinics. Ashley considers it a blessing to be able to serve in the city she grew up in. Ashley attended college on band scholarship at The University of Arkansas Pine Bluff; in her free time she enjoys attending live music events that include Jazz, Blues, R&B and Neo-Soul, smoking a nice premium cigar and simply relaxing on my porch. I have a new found love for astrology and all things that bring peace.

Jennifer Smith, co-owner, Director of Marketing, TXK Gameday/Marketing Agency

Jennifer and her husband, Morgan, moved to Texarkana in 2012 from Longview, Texas, where they both grew up. They have three children, Stella, Walker, and William. Jennifer worked as an Insurance Agent for several years, but left that career in 2019 to help run their three businesses: Phone Pros, TXK Marketing Agency, and Texarkana Gameday, the last of which has now extended in Longview with the addition of Longview Gameday. Jennifer and her husband both enjoy seeing other businesses grow and thrive within our community, as well as the local schools and athletes. While Gameday may take up a lot of their time, they find it to be such a fun and rewarding experience for us. With all of their businesses, they are always looking for ways to grow and expand. Always thriving to stay exciting and have something groundbreaking!

Scott E. Stevens, Justice, 6th Court of Appeals

Justice Scott E. Stevens was born and raised in Longview, Texas. After completing law school, Justice Stevens practiced law in Longview for 24 years. Justice Stevens's judicial career began on November 6, 2018, when he was elected as a Justice of the 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana. Justice Stevens is a member of several organizations, including the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Texas Bar Foundation, the Litigation Counsel of America, and the Texas Bar College. He was selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service) from 2009 to 2018. Justice Stevens is also a proud member of the Wilbur Smith Rotary Club in Texarkana. Justice Stevens has been married to Lainey Godsey Stevens since 1995 and has two children. He is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. He has also served on several boards.

Wendy Stotts, Fund Development Manager, Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund

Wendy Stotts serves as the Fund Development Manager for Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. ASPSF provides critical financial support in the form of scholarships to single parent students who are pursuing a better life through post-secondary education. Wendy has served the organization for over four years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Arkansas Tech University and a Master of Public Administration from Arkansas State University and has 30 years of experience in corporate marketing and public relations and in non-profit development and administration. Wendy and her husband, Jeff, moved to Texarkana in January 2021 from Northeast Arkansas. The Stotts have three grown children and three grandsons.

Stacy Tidwell, Director of Donor Relations, Evergreen Life Services

Stacy Tidwell, wife of Jared Tidwell, is an East Texas native with an extensive background in the medical field. She has also been an avid volunteer with various nonprofit organizations throughout Texarkana. Stacy works as the Director of Donor Relations for Evergreen Life Services while also attending Texas A&M University-Texarkana pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with a concentration in Behavioral Science. After graduating in the Fall of 2022, she will continue her college adventure to complete her Master's degree in Social Work. In the Fall, you can find the proud mom of three cheering on her kiddos wherever the Pleasant Grove Hawks and Southern Arkansas University Muleriders are playing. She also loves spending time with her family and friends by the pool, enjoying live music, doing a little shopping, and watching a lot of Longhorn football.

Leslie Rowe Warner, Wealth Management Adviser, Farmers Bank & Trust

As the Wealth Management Advisor for Farmers Bank & Trust, Leslie brings 20 years of experience and knowledge to the wealth management division. With a diverse background in banking, investments, and mortgage, Leslie's goal is to enhance her clients' experience by providing advice and guidance in all aspects of their financial life. Throughout her career she has been responsible for coordinating and executing the acquisition of high net-worth individuals and business relationships. Leslie also looks to partner with attorneys and CPA's to assist her clients in reaching their financial goals.

Manuel (Manny) Western, Commercial Lender, Bank OZK

Manny's number one mission is raising his kids to know Christ: 3-year old son, Ezekiel, and daughter, Isabella, arriving in June. Manny's life partner, wife, and mother to the kiddos is Hannah Western. Manny served six years active Army as a BlackHawk Crew chief. Manny separated from the Army to settle down and start a family. He came back to Texarkana because I knew the wonderful potential it has as a home to raise my kids in. Manny is currently a Commercial Banker with Bank OZK. He serves and worships with Christian Warriors Church, led by Micah Harp. Manny is serving on the board of directors for Hospice of Texarkana, and is also an active committee member involved in efforts for Activated Alleys and downtown.

Keisha Willingham, Realtor, Griffin Realtors

Keisha is a native of Texarkana, a graduate of Arkansas High and Texas A&M University-Texarkana, where she obtained a bachelor's in organizational leadership. She is a business owner of Luxurious Linen and provides quality bed sheets. Keisha became a homeowner at the age of 20, which inspired her to educate and help others to become homeowners as well. She is a full-time Realtor, licensed in Texas and Arkansas, a real estate investor and future developer. Keisha is the proud mother of two daughters, Kyana – (graduate from Liberty-Eylau High School and Prairie View A&M University) and Bryana -- (senior at Liberty-Eylau High School and basketball commit to Sam Houston State University). She enjoys spending time with family and traveling.

Lydia Wommack, Director of Special Projects, Vertical Alliance Group

Lydia is a Texarkana native but spent the last 10 years in Brooklyn and Manhattan with her husband, Justin Scurlock (also a Texarkana native). While in New York, Lydia worked for The Museum of Modern Art as the Assistant Director of Institutional Giving and Global Partnerships. She oversaw a growing portfolio of corporate donors to provide support for the Museum and a platform for partners to connect with new audiences and share compelling brand stories. Lydia and Justin returned to Texarkana to give their baby boy the childhood they both loved. She now works for her family business, Infinit-I Workforce Solutions, a local tech company that has delivered cloud-based workforce training since 1999.

photo Amber Adams
photo Shelby Akin
photo Marcus Bellamy
photo Toni Braley
photo Doug Brubaker
photo Chiquita Burks
photo LaMoya Burks
photo Samantha Coleman
photo Justin Copeland
photo Jennifer Cunningham
photo Emily Curry
photo Val De La Garza
photo Patrick Dodd
photo Rhonda Dolberry
photo Del Doughty
photo Jay Ellington
photo Vashil Fernandez
photo Gary Gathright
photo Hunter Gillespie
photo Wesley Goodson
photo Brittney Haynes
photo Natalie Haywood
photo Jacob Hill
photo Belinda Hutcheson
photo Drake Kennedy
photo Chuck Lincavage
photo Luke Loe
photo Stephanie Maddox
photo Brock McCorkle
photo Megan McMahen
photo Scott Megason
photo Angelo Mitchell
photo Samantha Mitchell
photo John Moran
photo Meghann Neely
photo Suki O'Neal
photo Lucia Jayde Ochoa
photo Jarrett Sharp
photo Mendy Sharp
photo Rex Simmons
photo Ashley Smalley
photo Jennifer Smith
photo Scott E. Stevens
photo Wendy Stotts
photo Stacy Tidwell
photo Leslie Rowe Warner
photo Manuel Western
photo Keisha Willingham
photo Lydia Wommack

Print Headline: Leadership Texarkana graduates largest class to date


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