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The Shannon Butler Bridge Builder Award, recognized as the school’s top honor, went to Rebecca Ajyei. The award is named in honor of then-Clinton Foundation Deputy Director Shannon Butler, who played a key role in the opening of the Clinton School and Clinton Presidential Center.
The award is presented to a member of the graduating class who has displayed collaborative leadership skills and exemplifies the spirit of bringing people together and comes with a $1,500 award. Presented since 2008, previous winners are listed below.
Darlynton Adegor was announced as the recipient of the Dr. Tom Bruce International Student Prize. Established by the late founding Clinton School Academic Dean Tom Bruce, the award goes to a graduating student from outside the United States who has visibly contributed to world peace during their time at the Clinton School.
A graduate of Lagos State University and the Nigerian Law School, Adegor has been working with the Washington D.C.-based Syrian Emergency Task Force since June 2017. In addition to creating a community engagement program and strategy for SETF, Adegor drafted a memorandum of understanding between a German prosecutor, who had opened investigations of international crimes in Syria, and the individuals responsible for bringing evidence to court.
Brandon Treviño, a concurrent student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law was announced as the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Established in collaboration with the Sullivan Foundation and organized by former director of field service education Marie Lindquist, this award goes to the graduating student who best serves others. The selection committee is comprised of three first-year students appointed by the first-year class representative.
More than 70 colleges and universities across the country present this award, named for New York lawyer, civic leader, and philanthropist Algernon Sydney Sullivan.
The academic award, voted on by Clinton School faculty, was presented to Hannah Bahn. Bahn completed her Capstone project at the Thaden School in Bentonville Ark., where she identified best practices for community-based learning in secondary school settings and developed a set of recommendations. She will join the faculty at Thaden upon graduation.
Previous Shannon Butler Bridge Builder Award Winners
2008: Julie Gehrki
2009: J.D. Lowery
2010: Harvell Howard
2011: Lindsey Johnson
2012: Anatoliy Shatkovskyy
2013: Andrea Price
2014: Allie Rouse
2015: Brandon Mathews
2016: Ashley-Brooke Moses
2017: Thurman Green
As part of adjunct professor Terry Mazany’s Social Entrepreneurship class, four University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students recently created a business plan for a new concept for a full-service casual dining restaurant in Little Rock. The plan culminated with Wednesday’s presentation at The Venture Center in Little Rock.
Reggie Ballard, Christine McCall, Nick Stevens, and Karen Zuccardi worked together to create the plan for LINX Bistro, a restaurant with a mission to employ formerly incarcerated men and women and provide them with the professional work and life skills needed to reintegrate into society.
“Each of the students in the class had identified a social challenge and had developed a social enterprise to tackle that challenge,” Mazany said. “After they developed those prototypes, for the last third of the semester they deliberated and decided they would support the restaurant idea, and from there it took another round of development to create a business plan.”
The social challenge and business solution came from McCall. She attended college and lived in Boston where Haley House, a non-profit with a similar mission to LINX Bistro, has thrived for more than 50 years.
“If you have a cool restaurant, like Haley House, with artwork on the walls, musicians who visit, programs for kids, you’re going to have different people come in because that’s the place to be. That’s the meeting place, the melting pot,” McCall said. “It’s called LINX Bistro because we want to link different people and communities together.”
The first step in the process was to document the need. In this case, it was necessary to see what was already being done in terms of services being offered to address the challenges of recidivism. Thirty-two percent of individuals released from prison in Arkansas will return within a year. Formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to find work and reintegrate into normal society and community life.
Next, the students researched similar enterprises and conducted interviews. The group reached out to other restaurants with similar business models, including Café Reconcile in New Orleans, La., and Haley House Bakery Café in Boston, Mass. Clinton School alum Jordan Butler, who is currently in the planning phases of Refill Café in Jackson, Miss., also offered advice.
The students interviewed individuals who could benefit from these services, including potential employees and customers. This process led to a clear profile of the need, workforce, and the customers of the restaurant. From there, a marketing plan and budget were built.
“It was intentionally structured to be a real business plan,” Mazany said. “It was designed to be pretty close to something that you could use as the basis for the proposal to a foundation.”
Partnerships with employee recruitment and training were identified. Organizational structures and financial projections were set. Different areas of Little Rock were scouted as potential locations, including University Plaza, Main Street, and West 12th Street.
“Looking at Haley House, Refill or Reconcile, the purpose of these places is to represent the community,” McCall said. “The people working there, we want them to feel comfortable. And the customers, we want them to come to a neighborhood and connect with people that they might not see or interact with on a daily basis. We want to link people together and provide a space where everyone feels like a part of the family.”
Finally, the plan included a menu, complete with starters, entrees, and desserts featuring healthy twists on American classics. The team even offered one menu item – Grandma’s Bread – at Wednesday’s presentation.
“LINX Bistro’s concept is all about nurturing fresh options, for your personal life, for your professional life, and the community at-large and linking all of those together, “ McCall said.
“The presentation went fabulous,” Mazany said.
A six-month economic impact analysis conducted in conjunction with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service recently found that members of The Venture Center have created an additional 192 jobs within the previous year, an increase of 43 percent, resulting in 637 total jobs created by members since The Venture Center’s founding in 2014.
In addition to the 43 percent annual increase in jobs created by members, this study also found that entrepreneurs who interact with The Venture Center on a daily or weekly basis have created more jobs and have a higher total capital raise. Data revealed that The Venture Center’s member startups have raised $57 million dollars to date—$18 million more than the total capital raised since May 2017.
Second-year student Ross Owyoung partnered with The Venture Center to determine the economic impact of The Venture Center’s programming on entrepreneurism in central Arkansas. Owyoung began this project in September 2017 by reviewing literature to identify the most important variables for conducting a statistical analysis on economic growth. He used interviews and surveys to capture the financial statistics and business profiles of entrepreneurs with a membership at The Venture Center. These member statistics were compared internally and externally to local and statewide regional data and recent economic trends to see how The Venture Center affected economic growth.
The final report for this project will be published this summer on The Venture Center’s website.
About the Clinton School of Public Service
The Clinton School of Public Service is the first school in the U.S. to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree. A two-year graduate program with a “real world” curriculum, the Clinton School is located on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas.
For more information on the Clinton School of Public Service, please visit: ClintonSchool.uasys.edu
About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs turn their startups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Central Arkansas and beyond.
For more information on The Venture Center, please visit: VentureCenter.co.
May 2018 graduate Andrew Treviño (Class 12) will start a full-time position as an opioid treatment policy coordinator with the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health Services.
May 2018 graduate Madeleine Chaisson (Class 12) accepted a position as a career pathways specialist at the International Rescue Committee in Dallas, Texas.
May 2018 graduate Megan Kurten (Class 12) was accepted into the political science Ph.D. program at American University in Washington, D.C.
May 2018 graduate Nick Stevens (Class 12) accepted a position as a data monitoring, evaluation and learning coordinator for Children International at UA Little Rock.
May 2018 graduate Emilie Street (Class 12) will start a position as outreach coordinator for Give and Surf in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Khalid Ahmadzai (Class 11) will relocate from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Fayetteville, Ark., to become director of employment and integration for Canopy NWA, a refugee resettlement organization.
Gralon Johnson (Class 5) delivered the keynote speech for the Founders and Honors Awards Convocation at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, his undergraduate alma mater. Johnson earned a Ph.D. in human ecology from Kansas State University and is currently a University Innovation Alliance Fellow at Iowa State University.
A first-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Marina Giannirakis was recognized for her exceptional service efforts as an undergraduate at John Carroll University.
Giannirakis was the recipient of JCU’s Campion Service Award as a junior in 2016. With service activities that included We the People – a program that taught fourth-grade students about the constitution and featured a mock congressional hearing – and the Carroll Reads Literacy Program – a tutoring program aimed at helping children refine reading and math skills – Giannirakis’ service experience was broad and unique.
“The Campion Award is given every year at JCU, usually to two students, and it’s for students that have been really involved in service projects or social action on campus,” Giannirakis said. “I was really excited to win.”
She was one of eight students selected to serve on the JCU Center for Service and Social Action Student Leadership Team. Her work with the Center for Service and Social Action afforded her a place on the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, which ultimately set her on her path to the Clinton School.
The Consortium placed her in the Arkansas Delta for an eight-week internship at a legal aid clinic. Based in Helena, Ark., the clinic worked to research cases on social security and disability issues for people living in impoverished areas. It was during this time in Arkansas that she first heard about the Clinton School.
“People always think it’s funny that I ended up back here in Arkansas,” Giannirakis said. “But I’m just very fortunate for the people I’ve had the chance to meet, including other students in class.”
Her interests in women’s rights connect her various service experiences, from working workshops in an adult women’s prison as an undergraduate to her upcoming International Public Service Project that will take her to Hanoi, Vietnam, to work with an organization whose efforts include female workers’ rights.
Additionally, Giannirakis was recently announced as one of two new McLarty Vital Voices Scholars from the Clinton School for the 2018-19 academic year. She will be in Washington, D.C., for a semester-long fellowship with Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization that works with women leaders in the areas of economic empowerment, women’s political participation, and human rights.
“I’m super excited about it,” Giannirakis said. “I’ll be doing some work analyzing the connections between the different women leaders around the world and sort of highlighting their stories. I’m pumped about that.”
What brought you to the Clinton School?
About three years ago I was part of a poverty-based studies internship program at my university. You applied to the program and then you were randomly dispersed around the United States, and I was put in Helena, Arkansas. It was somewhere I had never been. I worked at a legal aid clinic there and it was an amazing experience.
One weekend, we came to Little Rock for a conference, we had some meetings, and one of the things we did was tour the Clinton School. We talked to Dean Rutherford and Alex Thomas. It had a very lasting impression on me. That was kind of my journey.
I was involved in a lot of social justice initiatives and projects in my undergrad, and I just kind of saw the Clinton School as a continuous next step.
Outside of work, one of the biggest things, at least for myself, was – we didn’t have WiFi or cable – so we would just walk around the town and try to find stuff to do. We found ways to get involved. There was a farmer’s market every Saturday. We started volunteering for the Helena Second Saturday festival.
One of the women who worked at the UAMS Delta Health Education Center, where two of my roommates were working, got us involved in going to their exercise classes where they had water aerobics classes at the community pool. It was just us and all these older women. We went to their Zumba classes. The women in the community were amazing when it came to getting us involved.
What do your public service interests stem from?
My service and my faith life have always been tied together. From a young age, my sister and I did small-scale things like volunteering at a food shelter or a food pantry, which were sometimes tied with our church, or just something our family did.
My sister and I went to John Carroll University. It’s a Jesuit Catholic University, so a large focus is social justice and human rights. That suddenly became a focus, and I was only looking at Jesuit schools.
There’s a specific scholars program at John Carroll that focuses on social justice. When I got into the program, that jumpstarted my interest and really let me dig deeper into why I wanted to do something with public service. I can’t talk enough about their Center for Service and Social Action. I worked there all four years. We had amazing partnerships with organizations in the Cleveland community, working on human rights issues, women’s issues, juvenile issues, refugee rights.
It just let me explore and see what I really wanted to focus on and what I was passionate about. That helped lead me to where I am now. I’m very fortunate for that.
Do you know what you want to do for your IPSP?
I’m going to Vietnam to work with The Asia Foundation. I’ll be in Hanoi, Vietnam. That’s going to fit really well within the social network analysis I’ll be doing with Vital Voices in the fall, making connections between the women fellows around the world. Are they connected? When? How? Why? And is the support Vital Voices has given these women making a difference? Are the women taking advantage of these connections?
It’s crazy, through my research, seeing who some of the current fellows are. President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who came to speak at the Clinton School, is involved with their fellows, which I thought was really cool. They have so many amazing women around the world doing great, great work.
What’s been the most surprising thing about the Clinton School for you so far?
I would say the most surprising thing has been the connections within the Speaker Series. Before I came here, I knew a little bit about the Speaker Series, but I really didn’t know what it was. I started going and really realized how much of an influence it could have on my time here and how much I value those experiences, just as much as the academic part, but maybe a little more. It’s the people I’ve been able to talk to, if I’ve missed a speaker and really reached out.
One of the speakers I really wanted to go to – I was in Hope that day for Practicum – I followed up with over email and got to talk to her about her work. It was Dr. Baz Dreisinger, she wrote “Incarceration Nations.” I was mad that I missed that one. Her work is great. Being able to have those connections and seeing where that ties into what we’re learning in class is great.
Duff Campbell, a professor of mathematics at Hendrix College in Conway, won the 11th annual Arkansas State Crossword Puzzle Championship on Sunday afternoon at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Beth Levi, a clinical professor at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, won the Sudoku competition for the fourth straight year and ninth time overall. Greta Moore, an independent contractor in business development living in North Little Rock, was the runner-up in the Sudoku Competition.
Campbell, who had previously placed as high as third in 2016, secured his first championship with a perfect score of 500. Angelo Turturro, who is retired and lives in North Little Rock, was second. Turturro placed third in 2017. Glen Hooks of Little Rock, director of the Arkansas Sierra Club, placed third overall.
The championships were conducted by Little Rock District Judge Vic Fleming, who constructs puzzles for The New York Times and other major publications.
Matt Ginsberg, author of “Factor Man” and founder of Dr. Fill, a crossword-solving program better than all but a handful of humans, was the featured speaker. Ginsberg also delivered a program on his book before the Puzzle Championship.
The Clinton School has hosted the competition since its founding in 2007.
2007: Ellen Brantley
2008: Wes Lacewell
2009: Wes Lacewell
2010: Glenn Whaley
2011: Robin Morrissey
2012: Robin Morrissey
2013: No competition
2014: Robin Morrissey
2015: Ellen Brantley
2016: Glenn Whaley
2017: Wes Lacewell
2018: Duff Campbell
2007: Beth Levi
2008: Beth Levi
2009: Beth Levi
2010: John Matejka
2011: Beth Levi
2012: Beth Levi
2013: No competition
2014: Darren Morrissey
2015: Beth Levi
2016: Beth Levi
2017: Beth Levi
2018: Beth Levi
The Little Rock School District (LRSD) joined the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and ForwARd Arkansas Practicum partners on Friday to announce recommendations for a best-practices approach, introducing a new toolkit to support academic success for LRSD middle school students.
Katie Barnes (Atchison, Kan.), Rachel Cole (Bloomington, Ind.), Connor Donovan (Little Rock, Ark.) and Kirby Richardson (Rogers, Ark.) were the four students working with ForwARd Arkansas on the recommendations.
Since last September, the entities have been working with representatives from various agencies to develop a toolkit that would provide hands-on, project-based learning opportunities for students at each LRSD middle school. Specifically, the Practicum project focused on Cloverdale, Dunbar, Forest Heights STEM, Henderson, Mabelvale, Mann Magnet, Pinnacle View and Pulaski Heights – and what community partnerships will help them improve student achievement. The model created through these partnerships will foster teamwork and direct application of classroom skills.
While community-school partnerships have been identified districtwide, the relationship between Heifer International and Dunbar, as well as West Central Community Center and Henderson, were highlighted. In the 2018-19 school year, Dunbar students will familiarize themselves with the mission and work of Heifer International to study and address issues of poverty, hunger, and sustainability. Henderson students will take advantage of unique communication opportunities at West Central Community Center to develop programing support for the center’s new radio station.
“This toolkit will serve as a guiding mechanism for the future of project-based learning in the Little Rock School District – and I congratulate Clinton School of Public Service students on a job well done,” said Susan Harriman, executive director, ForwARd Arkansas. “ForwARd’s work will not stop here. We are committed to continuing a partnership with Little Rock School District to best serve its students, families and the community as a whole.”
“This is not a cookie-cutter approach, and we are excited about our next steps,” said LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore. “Community support is vital to the success of our public schools. We are grateful for the extensive commitment by our partners and the investment in our students by the Clinton School and ForwARd Arkansas.”
Research indicates that students earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school and are more motivated when schools, parents, families and communities work together. High quality schools have demonstrated track records connecting with community resources and families to improve student outcomes at elementary and secondary levels.
“We, at the Clinton School of Public Service, are thankful for ForwARd Arkansas’ support in our efforts to engage community partners with Little Rock School District middle schools,” said Skip Rutherford, dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School (UACS) of Public Service. “Through guidance from the toolkit and the adoption of hands-on, project-based learning, schools will be able to provide enriching experiences to support students’ academic growth at a crucial time in their development.”
List of School Partners
Cloverdale – Arkansas Space Grant Consortium · Dunbar – Heifer International
Forest Heights – Wings for Dreams · Henderson – West Central Community Center
Mabelvale – Philander Smith College · Mann – Arkansas State University
Pinnacle View – First Security · Pulaski Heights – UA Little Rock
McLarty Scholars has announced Christine McCall and Marina Giannirakis as the new recipients of its 2018 scholarships. McCall, a graduate of Boston University, and Giannirakis, who attended John Carroll University, will join 2017 scholar Yvonne Quek to round out the 2018 class.
During their semester-long fellowships at Vital Voices Global Partnership in Washington, D.C. McCall and Giannirakis will conduct research and present an impact evaluation on Vital Voices’ network of women leaders in the VVGROW and Global Freedom Exchange programs. Quek’s year-long fellowship at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) is focusing on researching issues related to the economic empowerment of women and the impact of climate change on women.
“Yvonne, Marina and Christine continue the tradition of accomplished and engaged graduate students from the Clinton School of Public Service who have participated in our Scholars program,” said Donna McLarty, co-founder of McLarty Scholars and co-founder of Vital Voices. “These women are true leaders who are passionately committed to both public service and women’s empowerment on their campuses, in their communities and on their international projects.”
A second-year graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service, McCall received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. She has worked as a general assignment reporter for The Boston Globe, Bay State Banner and The Newport Daily News. Most recently, she worked as a grant writer at Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, Ill. McCall also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan for two years and an AmeriCorps Volunteer at Cradles to Crayons in Boston, Mass. Her areas of public service interest include women’s empowerment, higher education and access to health care. This summer she will be working with Wesley College in Mwanza, Tanzania on program design and implementation of a servant leadership curriculum.
Giannirakis earned her degree in sociology and criminology from John Carroll University with a minor in entrepreneurship. She interned with the Legal Aid of Arkansas and American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. Additionally, she acquired volunteer experience at a juvenile detention center in Cleveland, Ohio. She is focused on public service, including immigrant and refugee rights, criminal justice system reform and women’s rights. This summer she will be working with The Asia Foundation in Hanoi, Vietnam, focusing on the protection of the rights of overseas migrant workers. Additionally, she will be working on a research report on women-led small and medium enterprise in Vietnam.
Quek, a graduate of the Clinton School who was born and raised in Singapore, is a repeat McLarty Scholar, having been a recipient in 2016 and 2017. She is currently conducting her research at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security on women’s economic empowerment in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Quek will attend the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University this fall, and her continued work at GIWPS will benefit from her ability to leverage an increased economic acumen. Quek had previously studied at the Clinton School, where she conducted field work on food insecurity with the Arkansas Food Bank and analyzed the social return of investment of a social enterprise empowering rural artisan women in Peru. She has also worked as a corporate attorney in Singapore and assisted with fundraising for Saigon’s Children Charity in Ho Chi Minh City while receiving her law degree from the National University of Singapore.
McLarty Scholars was established in 2011 by Donna and Mack McLarty and their sons Mark and Franklin, daughter-in-law Gabriella and granddaughter Brianna. This prestigious program provides students with substantive opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, research, international experience and cross cultural understanding.
“Gaining a world-perspective is one of the most valuable gifts to give a student,” said Mack McLarty. “We are very proud that McLarty Scholars continues to connect students studying in Arkansas with the professional and public service endeavors in Washington, D.C. and globally.”
The class of 2018 is the fifth class of McLarty Scholars, joining a list of accomplished graduates of the program who are making an impact on organizations around the globe. Past scholars include Anna Applebaum of California, Tshering Yudon of Bhutan, Mara D’Amico of Michigan, Jennifer Guzman of Arkansas, Michelle Perez of Venezuela and Arjola Limani of Albania, Mollie Henager and Emily Smith both of Arkansas.
For more information about the McLarty Scholars program visit McLartyScholars.com.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students Ganelle Blake, Nathan Davis, Allison Tschiemer and Brian Wegner created several educational frameworks that enhance learning initiatives and promote deliberative democracy at four institutions.
Since last September, the students have been working with representatives from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.; Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena, Ark.; MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock, Ark.; and U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Ark.
“When museums engage in deliberative democracy, they become more valuable institutions,” said Wegner after working with the museums as part of a Clinton School Practicum project. “Instead of simply being a keeper of knowledge and artifacts, they become public spaces where history is just as alive as the present.”
The creation of the Arkansas Historic Decisions Learning Exchange (ARHDLE), a coalition of officials from local museums who seek to use public deliberation as a tool to enhance outreach programs, gave Clinton School students an opportunity to develop instructional materials that engage communities in substantive discussions about important historical issues and current events.
The materials include educational frameworks on: the Great Flood of 1927 (Delta Cultural Center), the trial of David O. Dodd (MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History), the integration of Ole Miss (U.S. Marshals Museum), and public concerns about controversial monuments (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art).
“Part of deliberative democracy, or the public deliberation process, is encouraging people to listen to one another, explore the unbiased facts of an issue, test ideas, weigh options and balance tradeoffs before making a joint decision,” said Kathleen Pate, project coordinator and past president of Arkansas Museums Association.
“The people who use these frameworks and participate in discussions will discover where their diverse interests overlap so that they can better understand each other and act together to confront social and economic ills,” said project supervisor Dr. Malcolm Glover.
The ARHDLE initiative was made possible by a research grant from the Kettering Foundation. A nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research, Kettering’s primary research question is: What does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation.
“I think this project [was] very important,” said Richard Spilman, the education coordinator for the Delta Cultural Center. “[These new educational frameworks help us] correlate past events with future events so we prevent the mistakes in the past from happening in the future.”
The Clinton School’s Practicum projects take student teams into Arkansas communities, including the impoverished Mississippi River Delta, to foster community development and social change in areas such as public education, economic development, environmental awareness, youth leadership development and health improvement. These projects foster teamwork and the direct application of classroom skills.