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Women to watch.

Arkansas Business Lists 1992's Top 15 Established And Up-And-Coming Females

Blanche Lambert didn't decide to run for the 1st Congressional District after she saw the outcome of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearing. And it wasn't Rep. Bill Alexander's 499 bad checks in the House banking scandal that convinced her to jump into the race, either.

Long before 1992 was dubbed the political year of the woman, Lambert decided to take on the 24-year incumbent.

"People thought I was crazy, honey," says Lambert in her casual Southern manner.

One sentence from the 31-year-old Lambert says it all.

She's easy going. She's believable.

She's what voters are looking for.

Lambert says that after spending nine years working in Washington, D.C., she saw the need for women in Congress. She sat through hearings where women's issues were dealt with by panels containing no women.

Lambert says congressmen often wouldn't understand a situation until someone asked them to think how it would affect their wives and daughters.

"A woman's perspective is different from a man's perspective, generally, and I think we would have a better balance in government and in business if that balance were present," says Brownie Ledbetter, the executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel Inc.

Ledbetter says feminists don't believe women are better than men, but they do believe women's perspectives are crucial in policymaking.

Lambert agrees.

"The good Lord knew what he was doing when he created us both," says Lambert, who is careful to say, "I didn't get involved with this because I'm a woman and I wanted to prove a point."

Ann Pride, press secretary for Democratic vice presidential candidate Al Gore, is helping throw a fund-raiser for Lambert. She says part of the excitement over Lambert is because she's female. Yet Pride also says, "I don't think anyone would work for a woman just because she's a woman."

But women nationally and in Arkansas are gathering and working to support female candidates and issues.

The 60-member Arkansas Women's Action Fund was started this year to raise money for female candidates. President Mary Dillard says it's important for women to realize that people want them to run for office.

In states such as Missouri where similar organizations have been formed, the number of women running and achieving substantial elected positions is increasing.

Hot Springs lawyer Janie Evins says, "We have to open our eyes to the fact that it might be the decade of the woman."

A Decade Of Struggling

"This year, particularly, the voting electorate is at least willing to listen to women," says Lottie Shackelford, who has been a the member of the Little Rock Board of Directors for 14 years, during which time she served one term as mayor.

But Shackelford says women have a long struggle ahead in both politics and business. She still faces discrimination based on her gender, although she's diplomatic in how she refers to problems she's encountered.

"After one has been on the scene ... then the discriminations are less easy to detect -- I'll put it that way," says Shackelford. She says women still often have to prove themselves in service positions and work their way up the political ladder in ways men don't.

Women traditionally have been the backbone of political systems. When Ledbetter started in politics, she was told she could run a campaign but a man would have to publicly head it.

The issues that have become central in this election year, though, may help women in their political bids.

"What's happening this year with a little more clarity and force is that women and men are articulating those issues that were belittled in being described as women's issues," says Judith Faust, the director of the Division of Children and Family Services.

Faust says although she has a staff of 1,200 and a budget of $80 million, the division is focused on child welfare.

"So it's the sort of place where one might expect to see a woman at the helm."

But Faust says, "Our tendency to pigeonhole women's issues such as child care and women's health is shifting, because those aren't women's issues. They're fundamentally economic issues."

Evins, although a Democrat, agrees and says the Republicans may have something in their family-value approach.

"That's the key to our success," says Evins of "family values."

Women understand the issues in the forefront this year.

And that, coupled with voters' desire for change, is what's going to change the face of politics in Arkansas and nationally forever.

A Look At The Leaders

This year's Arkansas Business list of "Women To Watch" takes a political focus. Our top 15 established and up-and-coming female leaders aren't exclusively in the political realm. But, with this being the political year of the woman, it was hard not to notice the rising stars on Arkansas' political scene in addition to the business leaders.

Name: Mary Dillard Age: 46 Title: President of Dillard & Associates

In this election year, the services of Little Rock political consultant Mary Dillard have been used and her talents have been highlighted.

She's been the consultant to successful successfully primary campaigns like Bill Gwatney for state senate. Dillard also lent her expertise to the Give Future-Little Rock A Chance Committee, which defeated the Aug. 11 vote to change the form of city government.

When she hasn't been leading successful campaigns, Dillard has spent her time helping to organize the Arkansas Women's Action Fund. She's president of the board for the organization that has 60 members in its first year. Almost $10,000 has been raised to support both female and male candidates this year.

Name: Melinda Baran Age: 44 Title: Mayor of Hot Springs

The most notable characteristic of Melinda Baran is her spunk, but don't let it fool you. Baran's friendly southern approach belies the tough businesswoman and politician that she is.

When Baran became mayor of Hot Springs and attempted to change the city's direction, she found herself in hot water. An ex-city board member created enough trouble for Baran to find herself indicted, although the indictment was eventually determined illegal.

So Baran, who this year is up for re-election, forged on. She successfully pushed for the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science to locate in Hot Springs. She's also helping the city expand its international relations. Baran found Hot Springs a sister city in Japan.

Name: Mildred Webb Age: "30 something" Title: Assistant Director of the Arkansas Local Police & Fire Retirement System

Mildred Webb started with the Arkansas Local Police & Fire Re-tirement System in 1981 as a loaned executive from the state auditor's office. Today she's assistant director of the organization.

Although her degrees are in philosophy, English and English education, Webb has done postgraduate work in political science, and that's where her interests lie.

She's the president of the almost 20-year-old Arkansas Women's Political Caucus. Webb became involved in politics as a research assistant in the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1979. She's since volunteered in numerous campaigns.

Although she's not interested in running for office herself, Webb says she hopes to someday manage a campaign.

Name: Janna Riley Age: 39 Title: Vice President of Marketing for Riley's Inc.

As vice president of marketing for Riley's Inc., Janna Riley oversees the marketing for two nursing homes, a retirement center and the Little Rock Athletic Club.

But Riley's wide range of experience actually comes from her involvement with the Junior League of Little Rock, of which she is president this year. Riley says people's perceptions of the League are often incorrect, and both men and women will express surprise that she's involved with what used to be considered just a social club.

Riley's involvement with the League has exposed her to many volunteer opportunities, though. She also lends her time outside the League. Riley is the past president of the Friends of the Rep committee. She's also been a member of the Worthen Professional Women's Advisory Board.

Name: Jane Dickey Age: 44 Title: Partner at the Rose Law Firm

Through her position as a municipal bond lawyer at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Jane Dickey has followed the inner workings of city government for many years. But it wasn't until this year that she became actively involved in any city government process.

As chair of the Give Future-Little Rock A Chance Committee, Dickey claimed victory in a special election Aug. 11 when the committee successfully opposed the movement to change Little Rock's form of government.

Dickey's active role in city politics will take a back seat to her career in the next year, though, since she's just been elected president of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.

Name: Brownie Ledbetter Age: 60 Title: Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel Inc.

As the new recipient of the American Civil Liberties Union award for Civil Libertarian of the Year, Brownie Ledbetter of Little Rock is being recognized not only for her achievements this year but for a lifetime of public work.

Her position as executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel Inc., a non-profit educational organization, is only one of the organizations with which she's involved that supports people becoming involved in public policy.

She's also a lobbyist and the president of the Arkansas Fairness Council, a coalition of groups working to remove sales tax from grocery items. The organization also has adopted the environment as a second cause.

Name: Lottie Shackelford Age: 51 Title: Member of the Little Rock Board of Directors

Lottie Shackelford is known for her work in local government, but it's now national government where her name is being bandied about.

Shackelford is a 14-year member of the Little Rock Board of Directors. Part of that time was spent as one-term mayor. Shackelford became Little Rock's first female mayor in 1987.

But Shackelford isn't running for another term on the board. Instead, she's now working full time for the Clinton-Gore campaign. There are predictions that if Gov. Bill Clinton is elected president, Shackelford will have a national appointment.

Shackelford is also a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. She says regardless of what happens Nov. 3, she'll seek re-election for the vice chair position when her term expires in 1993.

Name: Judith Faust Age: 46 Title: Director of the Division of Children And Family Services

After being executive director of Nonprofit Resources Inc. in Little Rock for almost seven years, Judith Faust became a managing editor at August House Inc. for a year and a half. The position allowed her to put to use her journalism degree, which wasn't as necessary in her work as a community organizer.

But then last year she was called back into the public sector as director of the Division of Children and Family Services, a division of the Department of Human Services.

A federal class action lawsuit against the state forced the division to institute child welfare reform, and Faust was appointed to oversee it.

Faust, who hasn't had time for much outside of work in the past year, says she saw it as a moral imperative that she take the position. She says the window of opportunity for change, in part because of the attention focused on the division, was too great to pass.

Name: Susan Fleming Age: 41 Title: Public Finance Underwriter at Stephen's Inc.

Susan Fleming is known in the community as a former city manager of Little Rock, but she's been in the private sector for more than six years now.

Fleming received a degree in public administration, because she wanted to work within the system to bring about change.

She's now content to keep her corporate job as a public finance underwriter and work as a volunteer in the community. For instance, she's on the Governance Task Force within the Future-Little Rock committee.

Fleming's volunteer activities are varied. She's periodically involved with the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. She served as the chairman of the chamber's second Leadership Institute. Fleming also just went off the board of directors for Doctors Hospital.

Name: Blanche Lambert Age: 31 Title: Democratic Candidate for 1st Congressional District

When Blanche Lambert of Helena deferred pursuing an advanced medical sciences degree after college, she thought she was only taking a year off from her chosen field. Instead, she found a new interest.

Lambert took an entry level position in U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander's office, then went on to take legislative research positions in law offices in the Washington, D.C., area. She also became a registered lobbyist but still concentrated on research.

After observing government in action, though, Lambert says she realized "the wheels were turning, but we weren't getting anywhere."

Lambert decided if she didn't take a more active role in shaping government policy, she wouldn't have room to complain about it. So she took on her former boss and defeated the 24-year incumbent Alexander in the Democratic primary race.

She still has to beat Republican Terry Hays in November to make it to Congress. But even if she loses, Lambert says she intends to stay active in working for her home state.

Name: Janie Evins Age: 38 Title: Principal of Evins Law Offices

It's not just people in her hometown who know of Hot Springs lawyer Janie Evins. And that's the way she wants it.

In addition to her 1-year-old law practice, Evins is active in Garland County in a variety of roles. She's co-chair of the Hot Springs Political Animals club. She's been president of the Young Women's Christian Association since 1986. She's been appointed by the governor to serve a three-year term on the Arkansas Humanities Council.

The list doesn't end.

Evins is a former professor at Garland County Community College. She didn't attend law school until her mid-30s, but she's always had an interest in government.

She hopes to be part of government someday, too. After establishing her law practice, Evins wants to run for a legislative position. Who knows, says Evins, she may even attempt the governor's office.

Name: Jane Ramos Age: 48 Title: Editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial

When Jane Ramos answers her phone at the Pine Bluff Commercial, some people still ask if she's the editor's secretary. She politely tells them, "I am the editor."

She also became the editorial page editor in May when Pulitzer Prize-winning editorialist Paul Greenberg left the paper for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Ramos has some big shoes to fill, and she's not stepping into them at the most convenient time, either.

Ramos just changed the afternoon daily to a morning paper. She's also added a regional addition.

Although she says it's a challenge, Ramos says she likes the feedback -- positive and negative -- she receives from writing the editorials.

Before long, it will be tough for any Pine Bluff resident to mistake her for the editor's secretary.

Name: Ann Pride Age: 45 Title: Press Secretary to Al Gore

When Blytheville native Ann Pride graduated from college with a degree in Spanish, she realized she would probably have to get a master's degree in another subject if she wanted to find a job later.

So she pursued a political science degree, and her life in politics began.

Pride started as an intern and was then hired in Rep. Bill Alexander's office. Next, she worked in both the gubernatorial and senate offices of Sen. David Pryor, most recently as communications director.

A one-year stint as a lobbyist for Entergy Corp. followed until she joined the Clinton-Gore campaign in August as Gore's press secretary.

Pride says she hopes to remain in Arkansas when the campaign is through, but she wants to stay active in politics.

Name: Julia Vindasius Age: 31 Title: Executive Director of the Good Faith Fund

Upon leaving Chicago for Arkansas, Julia Vindasius was told it would take 10 years before she could graduate to becoming a full-fledged Arkansan. But after only four years, she's fitting in as if she's always lived here.

Vindasius, of Pine Bluff, is involved with numerous community organizations that she says dovetail nicely with the work she does as executive director of the Good Faith Fund, a self-employment loan fund established in 1988 through the Southern Development Bancorp.

She's chairman of the board for Community Resource Group in Springdale, which is a regional non-profit association that gives training and technical assistance for low-income communities in a seven-state area.

Last spring she was also appointed to the Governor's Task Force For Entrepreneurship Education.

Name: Ann Die Age: 47 Title: President of Hendrix College

"I never met a Hendrix alum whose eyes did not light up when they said they were a graduate," says new Hendrix College President Ann Die.

And you'll probably never meet anyone whose eyes don't light up when they talk about Die.

Die's academic credentials alone make her a good selection as president of Hendrix, but her enthusiasm for the job makes her a natural leader there and in the central Arkansas community.

Die hails from New Orleans, La., where she was dean and chief executive officer of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College and associate provost of Tulane University.

She says she wants the world outside Hendrix to know what a fine institution is located in Conway, Ark.

And Die is just the ambassador to do it.

Last Year's List

Arkansas Business' Original 15 'Women To Watch'

In the first "Women To Watch" profile last year, a list of 15 prominent female business and political leaders was established.

These 15 notable women have stayed busy and have done so in the public eye.

Hillary Clinton naturally has attracted more attention than anyone else on the list, but that doesn't mean others are going unnoticed.

For instance, Joycelyn Elders made waves this year at a statewide pro-choice rally. She pointed out the irony of many of those who oppose abortion -- a bunch of men in the male-dominated Congress, medical field and clergy.

Bishop Andrew McDonald of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock actually denounced Elders from his pulpit, but she's holding strong in her reality-based battle for public health.

Elders also addressed the Democratic National Convention in New York in July.

Margaret Eldridge went through some tough times this year after a car accident, but she's back on the job as executive vice president of Twin City Bank.

As manager of TCB's consumer banking division, Eldridge established a name for herself. And for overcoming the physical and emotional trauma of the past year, Eldridge has further established her reputation as a woman of stamina.

Marion Kahn, of Marion Kahn Communications Inc., has added some high-tech and even some flashy accounts to the list of charitable organizations for which she handles communications. New accounts include Arkansas Aerospace Inc. and The Claudia Co., which is Linda Bloodworth Thomason's foundation.

Rep. Charlotte Schexnayder of Dumas spent the last year as president of the National Newspaper Association, which has more than 5,000 member newspapers across the country.

And the list of accomplishment goes on, which gives further proof to the merits of the original 15 "Women To Watch."

Name: Hillary Rodham Clinton Age: 44 Title: Partner in the Rose Law Firm

Name: Joycelyn Elders Age: 59 Title: Director of the Arkansas Department of Health

Name: Patti Upton Age: 54 Title: President of Aromatique Inc.

Name: Margaret Eldridge Age: 43 Title: Executive Vice President of Twin City Bank

Name: Helen Selig Age: 55 Title: President of Selig & Smith Inc.

Name: Charlotte Schexnayder Age: 68 Title: President of Clarion Publishing Co.

Name: Sharon Allen Age: 48 Title: Executive Vice President of Government Programs and Services for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Arkansas

Name: Linus Raines Age: 49 Title: General Manager of the Excelsior Hotel

Name: Marion Kahn Age: 41 Title: President of Marion Kahn Communications Group Inc.

Name: Joanna Seibert Age: 50 Title: Chief of Staff and Director of Radiology at Arkansas Children's Hospital

Name: Dr. Patricia Washington McGraw Age: 55 Title: Director of Black Studies and Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas, Founder and Director of the McGraw Institute of Learning: Abilities Unlimited

Name: Alison Bisno Age: 37 Title: Senior Vice President and Director of Research of Stephens Inc.

Name: Betta Carney Title: Chief Executive Officer of World Wide Travel Service Inc.

Name: Katherine Mitchell Age: 49 Title: President of Shorter College

Name: Joann Payne Age: 47 Title: President of PSM Consultants Inc. and Payne Sign Manufacturing and Distribution Co. of Arkansas Inc.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Leadership; includes related articles; women business and political leaders
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 21, 1992
Previous Article:SEC spells M-O-N-E-Y.
Next Article:Putting up walls.

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