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Women to watch; professional success, community involvement define this year's group of women leaders.

IN ARKANSAS BUSINESS' third annual "Women in Leadership" issue, the spotlight has been put on 15 outstanding women -- up-and-comers and established personalities. They are women whose accomplishments you may already be aware of, though many are just beginning to make ripples in their professions and communities.

Arkansas Business selected this group for a variety of reasons: outstanding professional achievement, community involvement, persistence and drive, vision and courage, compassion and social conscience.

This focus on women leaders is the first in a three-part series of profiles on people who are making a difference in Arkansas. In the next issue, Arkansas Business will highlight the achievements of minority leaders. And the following week, Arkansas Business will introduce you to a number of chief executive officers riding the crest of success.

Just as you'll probably recognize some of the women profiled in this issue, some of the past inductees into the "Women in Leadership" gallery have since captured the eyes of the world -- namely, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Surgeon General nominee Joycelyn Elders. Then, there's 1st District Rep. Blanche Lambert, who has quickly carved a niche for herself in the nation's capital.

While Arkansas temporarily has lost those outstanding women, Arkansas Business has found more women who have many of their qualities -- women who aren't afraid to speak their mind, climb to the top of the career ladder or work quietly behind the scenes for the betterment of their communities.

One such woman, Carol Bennett-Lindsey of Fayetteville, has devoted her life to building community infrastructure in the form of clinics and services to help the mentally ill, the elderly and the addicted. Bennett-Lindsey was involved in promoting drug treatment and helping sexually abused children in the 1960s, long before these issues became widely embraced causes.

"I've had people say about Arkansas that our best calling card is our people," says Bennett-Lindsey, who co-founded Ozark International Consultants Inc. with her husband in 1991.

Through this diverse collection of women leaders, and the next two installments that focus on accomplished people, you'll see why Arkansas does indeed have a great natural resource in its people.

The women profiled are multifaceted.

They are entrepreneurs -- people such as real estate company founder Janet Jones; business owner MaryJane Rebick of Copy Systems Inc. and Polly Rand Martin of Rand's Inc.

There's Dr. Betty Lowe, a nationally recognized pediatrician who serves as medical director at Arkansas Children's Hospital in addition to wearing several other hats.

We've included visionaries such as Sister Sharon Therese Zayac, president of St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital. Zayac has identified a number of needs in Benton County, which her fast-growing hospital is working to fill.

Most recently, St. Mary opened a health clinic providing services to those without health insurance and no means to afford care. Zayac's next project is to garner support for an AIDS/HIV clinic though she acknowledges she may encounter community resistance along the way.

Women to watch include public officials such as Sharon Priest, a Little Rock City Director and former mayor, and state Rep. Judy Smith of Camden, both likely to be political forces for a long time to come.

Arkansas Business has turned up women such as Cecilia Troppoli, whose compassion for the terminally ill led her to start Hospice Home Care Inc., a private agency that allows the dying to live their final days with dignity and quality. Also, lawyers Audrey Evans and Lisa Ferrell balance high-powered careers while finding time to participate in a variety of community activities.

Women are profiled who have had remarkable successes in careers such as banking, marketing and education. For example, Pat Torvestad, marketing director at UAMS Medical Center, has been instrumental in educating Arkansas about UAMS' accomplishments.

There's Judy Lawton, executive vice president for Worthen National Bank of Northwest Arkansas, whose ability to stay a step ahead in the ever-changing world of banking has brought her recognition. And Estelle Matthis, the interim superintendent of the Little Rock School District, who eagerly stepped in to fill the shoes of departing Superintendent Mac Bernd.

Rounding out the group are women like Arkadelphia's Jane Ross, who has funneled her family's good fortune in the timber business back into the community through the Ross Foundation, a philanthropic organization that promotes cultural, educational, environmental and economic interests in the Clark County area.

Although these women's professional accomplishments and community involvement are the focus, their personal lives are compelling, too, and represent the spectrum of choices women have today.

Some have chosen to remain unmarried, some childless. Others were late bloomers in a sense, having dedicated themselves first to children and husbands before making their goals a priority. Many have endured divorce, with that trauma often serving as a catalyst for a new world of professional achievement. They include single parents who function as the primary breadwinner and chief caretaker. They range in age from 30-72 and cover every decade in between.

Arkansas Business has found them personally compelling and professionally stunning. It is hoped you will, too.

Arkansas Business Women in Leadership Alumni

1991 Hillary Rodham Clinton Dr. Joycelyn Elders Patti Upton Margaret Eldridge Helen Selig Charlotte Schexnayder Sharon Allen Linus Raines Marion Kahn Joanna Seibert Dr. Patricia Washington McGraw Alison Bisno Betta Carney Katherine Mitchell Joann Payne

1992 U.S. Rep. Blanche Lambert Mary Dillard Melinda Baran Mildred Webb Janna Riley Jane Dickey Brownie Ledbetter Lottie Shackelford Judith Faust Susan Fleming Janie Evins Jane Ramos Trimble Ann Pride Julia Vindasius Ann Die

LISA FERRELL Rose Law Firm Attorney

LISA FERRELL'S QUEST FOR EDUCAtion and professional experience has taken her many places.

At age 30, she's already obtained a Harvard University law degree, pursued studies in economics and public policy in Switzerland and Paris and spent a summer as an associate at a Tokyo law firm. But Ferrell says she always dreamed of coming back to her hometown.

"I always knew I was coming back home," Ferrell says. "To me, community is very important ... and I think living in Arkansas provides me an opportunity to make a difference."

An associate at the Rose Law Firm specializing in litigation, Ferrell has wasted no time immersing herself in the community since returning to Little Rock in 1990. She's a tutor with the Watershed Project, an advisory board member of Rape Crisis and a volunteer Big Sister.

More recently, she participated in the Future-Little Rock process and co-chaired the committee that championed a successful change-of-government proposal.

"When you've got that kind of coalition, you've got the city behind you," she says of the diverse group that supported the proposal.

Ferrell's desire to make a difference and a foray she made into politics as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander begs the question: Is politics in her future?

"I enjoy public service a great deal and that might be something that I consider down the road, but right now I'm very happy at the Rose firm," she says.

PAT TORVESTAD UAMS Medical Center Director of Marketing

WHEN PAT TORVESTAD took over in early 1991 as Director of Marketing at UAMS Medical Center, her job was to let the state know about the daily miracles at the hospital and research center.

"They felt that they were too much of a well-kept secret," Torvestad says. "My assignment was to communicate about the medical advances and patient care delivered here."

As anyone who pays even the slightest attention to print and broadcast media knows, Torvestad has been doing her job well. Since UAMS began its "Strong Medicine for Arkansas" campaign in January 1992, featuring real people such as cancer survivor Sterling Mosley of Pine Bluff, the average Arkansan has become more aware of the center's success stories.

A former marathon runner who still runs 40 miles a week, Torvestad says she's always been interested in health issues, so being in a medical environment is "almost like opening the candy store to me."

Away from work, Torvestad is involved as a charter member of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a cause that became a personal one following a friend's recent death from the disease. An accomplished piano player and a music major, Torvestad is also a long-time supporter of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and is currently serving as the membership chair of the Friends of the Rep Board.

ESTELLE MATTHIS Little Rock School District Interim Superintendent

LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL District administrator Estelle Matthis has worked under 11 superintendents, but she says the revolving door syndrome hasn't dampened her enthusiasm.

"I'm more encouraged now than I've ever been," Matthis, 56, says. "I think we're on the threshold of making something happen."

Matthis was selected to fill in as interim superintendent following the recent resignation of Mac Bernd.

"All of my life I've been very humbled that people have asked me to step in and help out," says Matthis, who joined the district in 1966 as a special education teacher. Since 1989, she has been an associate superintendent for curriculum and learning improvement.

Although Matthis was gratified to be able to help the district in a time of need, she made it clear she wasn't interested in the position on a permanent basis. She says that's because she believes she's better as a support person.

"I like to help people get the job done, but I don't like being in the spotlight," she says. "I guess I'm more of an Indian than a chief."

Having worked in the trenches, Matthis says she knows the strengths of the various players in the district. As a result, she's been able to assemble a strong line-up of educational leaders heading into the school year.

"My job is just empowering the people out there who I know what to do," she says.

CAROL BENNETT-LINDSEY Ozark International Consultants Inc. Co-Founder

NOT ONE TO SIT BACK AND wait for community problems to solve themselves, Carol Bennett-Lindsey of Fayetteville has taken a leading role in helping northwest Arkansas' support services catch up with its rapid growth.

Bennett-Lindsey and her husband, Uvalde, founded Ozark International Consultants Inc. in July 1991. The consulting company helps develop what Bennett-Lindsey calls "physical and human infrastructure."

Ozark International grew out of the Lindseys' involvement with the Northwest Arkansas Council, a non-profit group comprised of 58 business leaders. While a facilitator with the council, Bennett-Lindsey helped local communities secure federal funding for U.S. Highways 71 and 412 and for the Northwest Arkansas Airport Feasibility Study.

Before turning her attention to developing physical infrastructure, Bennett-Lindsey spent a number of years promoting community-based services for the mentally ill, alcohol and substance abusers and those in need of hospice programs.

She became interested in the problems of drug addiction and sexual abuse in the 1960s. Her interest in helping sexually abused children led her initially to take in five girls as foster children. Over the years, she's been a foster parent to 43 children -- and that's in addition to raising seven children of her own.

She's done so many things over the years that Bennett-Lindsey says, "My kids swear they're going to put on my tombstone, 'She missed nothing.'"

AUDREY EVANS Lax Vaughan Pender & Evans Attorney

AUDREY EVANS CHANGED career paths mid-stream after deciding that a childhood dream of becoming a lawyer was, in fact, an attainable goal.

After teaching grade school for several years and raising her children, she entered the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law and graduated with the highest honors. Evans has since developed a solid reputation, becoming the kind of lawyer other lawyers refer business to. She's said to be a woman who quietly wields considerable clout. She's active in Democratic Party and social causes and is an FOH (Friend of Hillary), having even lunched at the Clinton White House.

Evans, 48, began her legal career as a clerk with U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele and went on to join Wright Lindsey & Jennings. Believing her personality was more suited for a smaller firm, Evans and three other lawyers formed Lax, Vaughan, Pender & Evans in 1991. She specializes in bankruptcy and commercial litigation.

"I really look forward to differing views," she says about why law compels her. "I look forward to hearing how differently |the other side~ views things and seeing whether we have any common ground."

Away from her practice, Evans volunteers her legal services as chairperson of the VOCALS board of directors, a group of lawyers who volunteer their services to those who need legal representation but can't afford it. Her family also has an annual tradition of serving Christmas dinner at the Our House shelter.


Janet Jones Co. President

AN OPTIMIST BY NATURE, Janet Jones envisioned a better life for herself and her two daughters when she left high school teaching to enter real estate in 1974.

She started her company six years later, after the one she had been working for splintered into separate companies. A little more than 13 years later, the Janet Jones Co. has become one of Little Rock's most prominent real estate firms. It consistently ranks at the top in dollar volume of homes sold in its specialty area--the Heights and Hillcrest neighborhoods and west Little Rock.

Jones set the tone for this success with the very deliberate choice of her company logo: a multicolored rainbow.

"The rainbow sign is not an accident," she says. "It's a sign of hope. It's symbolic for us."

Besides overseeing her company, Jones is a member of Fifty for the Future, an economic development group comprised of business leaders, and she's active in Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church.

The Janet Jones Co. has 25 agents and seven staff people. Jones says her company's carefully planned growth has been an important success factor.

"I have added agents very slowly, and we've grown very thoughtfully," she says.

Jones says her company also operates with sensitivity, realizing that home buying and selling is an emotional experience for clients. As a result, she says, the golden rule is a guiding principle at her company.

"I do believe that in life, what you send out comes back to you," she says.


Rand's Inc. Chairwoman, CFO

POLLY RAND MARTIN'S earliest childhood memories are of making retail grocery calls with her father, the late Ben Rand.

Rand's death on July 3 left a void at Rand's Inc., the wholesale food distribution business he had run for almost half a century.

With her father's passing, Martin becomes the only family member in the executive ranks. She is the company's chief financial officer and chairwoman of the board of directors.

Martin, 39, acknowledges an increased sense of responsibility for the company's well-being -- especially to her mother and brother, who have entrusted her to keep the business thriving.

Martin joined the family business in 1984 after working in retail elsewhere for more than 15 years. She started as a buyer and learned the delicate art of commodity buying, which she says is still the biggest ongoing challenge she faces.

She says her goals for the company are to post higher sales and profits and to aim for the elusive state of perfection.

"There's so much room for error in this business," she says.

As for the future, Martin says Rand's doesn't fear encroaching competition from larger companies such as Harvest Foods Inc. that are trying to make inroads in the wholesale area.

"We've been handed a challenge that we've wanted for a long time," she says. "We definitely can compete with them."


LR Board of Directors

SHE MAY BE A PRODUCT OF MONTREAL, Canada, but former Little Rock Mayor Sharon Priest has immersed herself in her adopted city with a native's zeal.

Little Rock gained Priest through serendipity. While working for a Montreal appliance company in 1974, Priest came to the city on a business trip. She planned to stay through the weekend, but after meeting Bill Priest, her husband, she returned for good.

Priest, 45, has been a member of the Little Rock Board of Directors since November 1986. The board subsequently elected her vice mayor and mayor. Besides being a director, Priest is the membership relations coordinator for the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

The massive flooding the city experienced in 1978 drew Priest into politics. Her home was one of many affected, leading Priest to pinpoint the problem's source. She found it in Fourche Creek and led a petition drive that resulted in the creek's channelization.

"At that time I was considered an activist," says Priest, who some now view as part of the establishment.

But that's not to say she's lost touch. She recently emerged as the conscience of the board over her objection to policy decisions being taken up at the directors' non-public weekly breakfast meetings.

Priest says the complex and challenging issues city officials face have kept the fire burning in her. But she believes in the flow of new blood through the political system, and she acknowledges she's mulling a run for Secretary of State in 1994.


Arkansas Children's Hospital Medical Director

AS MEDICAL DIRECTOR AT Arkansas Children's Hospital, a pediatrics professor and associate dean for children's affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Betty Lowe's life is intertwined with medicine.

Her involvement continues to grow. She was recently elected president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a professional association with more than 40,000 members. The academy serves as an advocate for children and a support group for pediatricians, among other functions.

Lowe, 59, has a history of being at the top of her field. She was valedictorian of her Briggsville (Yell County) High School senior class and first in her medical school.

As medical director, she adds a medical perspective to hospital administration and serves as a liaision between doctors and the ACH board of trustees.

Not surprisingly, her work keeps her so busy she says she doesn't have time for many outside activities.

"I so thoroughly enjoy what I do, it takes most of my time, effort and energy," she says.

A major concern of Lowe's is ensuring that ACH remains a leader in patient care and that child health care issues remain a national priority. Because "children don't vote," Lowe says, it is easy for them to get the short end when political decisions are made. That's why they need dedicated advocates, she says.

"It's always amazing to me that unless you're out there pushing, they can certainly put children at the bottom of the list."


State Representative

DEMOCRATIC REP. JUDY Smith of Camden has garnered glowing reviews for the thoughtful, progressive legislation she has pushed.

Among her successes have been bills to make stalking a crime and to transfer food stamps to electronic cards in order to deter abuse.

Smith defeated a 24-year, white male incumbent by 34 votes to win her seat. Her candidacy was the result of a winnowing process by the black community to find someone electable. Three good candidates emerged--Smith and two close female friends. Smith says the three deliberated "prayerfully" and decided she should run.

A native of Ville Platte, La., Smith, 40, moved to Arkansas in 1979 with her husband. Her work experience has been in a variety of areas related to social work. She is executive director of People Are Concerned Inc., an agency that works to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Related to that is Smith's job taking help-line calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a task she manages even during legislative sessions.

Smith says her upbringing by her grandparents on a sharecropper farm gave her an understanding of people's needs.

"I have lived where the people who are most indigent are living today," she says.

Smith says she's content to be the best state legislator she can be and doesn't aspire to higher office. Still, she says, "If God should provide me that opportunity, I hope I have the good sense to knock on the door and try to get in."


Copy Systems Inc. Co-Owner

MARYJANE REBICK OF Little Rock finds time to share her business success with others through her involvement in various business advocacy groups.

Rebick is co-owner, along with her husband, Michael, of Copy Systems Inc., a retail office equipment business; Quik Print, a printing franchise; and Copy Systems Business Centers, which provide retail business services in Wal-Mart Supercenter stores.

Copy Systems has grown from annual sales of $150,000 in 1984 to $7 million last year.

As president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the 41-year-old Rebick is credited with reviving the group, which was on the verge of dying from disinterest when she took over in 1990. The Central Arkansas Chapter now has about 40 members.

"We've got some unique needs as women business owners," says Rebick. "The playing field is still not even yet."

That's why NAWBO provides support and networking opportunities, as well as mentoring for business women. Rebick says NAWBO tries to reach out to fledgling women entrepreneurs to share the benefit of experience.

She's also active in the National Federation of Independent Business. She has a reputation as a member whose name doesn't just appear on the membership roll. One fellow business advocate says if members are asked to write politicians about an issue, you can count on Rebick doing it.

"I would urge |entrepreneurs~ never to give up," Rebick says. "If you're going to have a successful business you have to work hard. There's no magic key."


Hospice Home Care Inc. Founder, Executive Director

CECILIA TROPPOLI CLEARLY recalls a defining moment on her career path.

It was the mid-'70s when Troppoli attended an informal talk by a woman who announced that she was dying of leukemia. She went on to tell of a side effect even worse than slowly succumbing to a fatal disease: It was the acute loneliness and isolation she and her family were experiencing.

"I think it was a time when death was still in the closet," Troppoli says. "It was then that I made the decision that if the good Lord was willing, I was willing."

Troppoli, 43, is the founder and executive director of Hospice Home Care Inc. in Little Rock, a private, non-profit agency. She started the agency in 1992 after a number of years working with the aging and terminally ill.

Hospice Home Care is a state-licensed, Medicare-certified facility that offers medical and emotional support to terminally ill patients and their families. The agency has a staff of about 80 that includes medical professionals, social workers and a chaplain.

Troppoli, whose educational background is in gerontology and psychology, says the hospice is "a safety net" of sorts for those who want to live out their final days at home. "We want that living to have quality," she says.

Troppoli acknowledges that aiding the dying can be emotionally wrenching. It can also be a unique self-growth process for the care givers.

"We get much more than we give," she says, "and I think that's because they share a lot of life with us. They really add a lot of quality to your life."


Worthen National Bank of Northwest Arkansas Executive Vice President

JUDY LAWTON OF FAYETTEville oversees six different areas as executive vice president for accounting and operations at Worthen National Bank of Northwest Arkansas.

The bank and customer accounting areas, loan operations, human resources, facilities management and computer services all fall under Lawton's umbrella. About 220 people work in those various departments.

A certified public accountant for whom analytical tasks come naturally, Lawton says she's comfortable dealing with the inner workings of the various departments.

"I'm real operational-oriented, and that's probably what I do the best and what I enjoy," Lawton says.

She became EVP at Worthen in Fayetteville after 11 years at Worthen in Russellville. At the time, Worthen was in the midst of acquiring First National Bank of Fayetteville. Lawton says she found it challenging to refine the operational details to find a system that worked best with the new, larger institution.

Lawton says she loves the constant flux that's characteristic of the banking industry, but that also presents the biggest ongoing challenge.

"Banking is in a changing environment, so keeping up with all the regulations and how that affects the operations of the bank is a real challenge," she says.

Away from work, Lawton says she stays busy with her 10-year-old son, who's active in sports.


Ross Foundation Chairperson

JANE ROSS OF ARKADELphia has felt a need to return something to the Clark County area, where her family has managed timberland for three generations.

That desire led Ross and her mother, Esther Clark Ross, to form the Ross Foundation in 1966 as a means of preserving the family's timber holdings while providing resources to promote cultural, educational, environmental and economic interests.

Ross began selective harvest management of the timberland after her father's death in the mid-1950s. The foundation has grown from total grants of $663 in 1967 to more than $320,000 in grants in 1989.

Ross says the highlights of the foundation activities she's most proud of are the completion of the Henderson State University/Ouachita Baptist University Joint Library in 1989; the Cooperative Wildlife Management Program developed with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission in 1988; and a hardwood management and regeneration program initiated in 1987.

Ross was educated at Arkadelphia High School and graduated from Henderson State Teachers College, as HSU was then known, and the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. She worked in photography for many years, including assignments during World War II at the U.S. Naval Yard in Washington, D.C., and as a photo technician in the Women's Army Corps in the Army Air Force.


St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital President

SISTER SHARON THERESE Zayac has accomplished much since taking over as president of St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital in July 1990.

The hospital is in a growth mode, having recently opened its Poplar House Clinic, which provides medical and social service referrals to the poor. As part of its service, the clinic sponsors child immunization clinics for the entire community.

St. Mary offers a full-range of services and employs more than 600 lay people at its 165-bed facility. The hospital is in the process of expanding several departments through a 57,000-SF building/renovation project. Zayac says the expansion is simply a response to the growing need in the region for medical services.

A Springfield, Ill., Dominican Sister since 1971, the 40-year-old Zayac says a major goal of hers was achieved with the recent revision of the hospital's mission statement and objectives. A series of retreats will take place now to remind hospital staff "that our work here is not a job, but a ministry."

Zayac shows a willingness to confront tough issues. For example, she plans to start organizing support for an HIV/AIDS clinic soon.

She says she's tried to find ways she can meet the needs she sees, noting that it's "our ministry to reach out to all people--not just those who come to us."

In addition to leading St. Mary's growth, Zayac is also involved in the Rogers Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the First National Bank of Rogers board of directors.
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Title Annotation:women leaders of Arkansas
Author:Walters, Dixie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 9, 1993
Previous Article:Exporting Arkansas banks; Worthen, First Commercial, three others expand outside state's borders.
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