Greenbrier chamber names Tyler, Higgins award winners

by Sonja J. Keith

This year’s top award recipients selected by the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce have a big heart for their community and their own special ways of giving back.

Kim Tyler will be recognized as the Citizen of the Year at the 2018 Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Thursday, March 1, at the Greenbrier Junior High Cafetorium.

Verna Higgins will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award and Mary Andrea Xiaojing “Andie” Finley has been named Student of the Year.

“Kim and Verna both represent what Greenbrier stands for so well. They are hardworking, genuine people,” said chamber board president Audreya Cole Brown. “Both have also served the Chamber in various capacities throughout the years, so I was pleased to see the nominating committee had selected them and not at all surprised our members chose them for our Citizen and Volunteer of the Year. 

“The banquet is one of my favorite events every year. It’s great to have people who represent so many facets of our community gathered together to honor our award winners.”


Kim’s nomination cited her service as chairman of the Greenbrier Natural Resources Advisory Board, president of the Faulkner County Home Builders and a board member for the Conway Noon Lions Club.

“Wherever Kim is, she represents Greenbrier,” it stated. “You can find Kim reading to area preschoolers at the Faulkner County Library Greenbrier Branch or providing vision screening to students through various area agencies.  Kim does what she can to promote area growth and retention, making Greenbrier a great place live.”

Faith, family and community are important to Greenbrier Citizen of the Year Kim Tyler.

“I am grateful and overwhelmed that the place I call home — the place that has had the biggest impact on me — would give me the seal of approval,” said Kim, a 50-year resident of Greenbrier.

Kim credits her parents, Bill and Cathy Tyler, with having a big influence on her life. “My parents have always lived by example. Their influence and support laid a solid foundation for my life structure.” Her family also includes her brother, Tim, and his wife, Robin; and a sister, Sarah Lewis, and her husband, Cody. While she does not have any children, “my nieces and nephews are my ‘Great Kids’ – Wes Tyler, Ethan Tyler, Megan Weckwerth; Mallory, Kimberly, Tyler and Timber Lewis; and Kaden Fielder.

A 1986 graduate of Greenbrier High School, Kim has two degrees from the University of Central Arkansas: a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. “My background is public school educator and administrator, federal grant administration, staff development, project administrator, land developer, land surveying and residential contractor.”


Verna’s service to the community through her photography was listed in her nomination. “Whether it’s serving on a board or capturing the moment behind the lens, Verna Higgins is highly visible in the community. She has served on numerous committees focusing on both the community and county, including Matthews Park. With a camera in tow, she documents events and shares her photos promoting Greenbrier and the Faulkner County area.”

Moving to Greenbrier more than 25 years ago was the best thing for Verna Higgins and her family. Verna’s family includes her husband of 36 years; two sons:  Mitchell and Matthew, who is married to Danielle (Clark); and a special grandson, Maddox.    

Born in Little Rock and growing up in rural Pulaski County, Verna graduated in 1979 from McClellan High School. She completed a course with the Nanny Academy and was certified as a child care specialist in 1991. She worked at the home office for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department for 10 years, at a home daycare for three years and as the secretary at Immanuel Baptist Church for five years. She was a substitute teacher for the Greenbrier School District for about 10 years and worked about a year at the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce.

“I love spending time with my husband traveling around Arkansas, whether we’re in a car or on our motorcycle, photographing God’s nature and interesting sights. Photography is my hobby that thrills my soul,” said Verna. “I also enjoy being a ‘Nana- for my 3-year-old grandson, Maddox. He is the smartest most entertaining boy around and I’m proud to have him in my life. God has truly blessed my family here in Greenbrier.”


Andie is a senior at Greenbrier High School and is active in many clubs and organizations. She maintains a 4.25 GPA while an active member of the volleyball team. She ranks third in a class of 245. She has accumulated multiple hours of college credit through the concurrent credit program. 

“Andie is a sweet young lady with a big heart,” read her nomination. 

After high school graduation, Andie plans to attend Florida College in Temple Terrace and major in medicinal chemistry. She would like to teach at a university or do pharmaceutical research.

“It’s a really big honor,” she said of the award.

Winners of the chamber’s business awards:

  • New Business of the Year – The Castle at Harmon Ranch
  • Small Business of the Year – Graham Brothers Electric, Inc.
  • Non-profit of the Year – The CALL of Faulkner and Conway Counties
  • Business of the Year – Greenbrier Nursing and Rehab

David Bazzell will be the guest speaker for the banquet, which has the theme “Home Sweet Home/Arkansas.”

Chamber community partners are Conway Regional Health System (gold); First Security Bank and First Service Bank (silver); and First Arkansas Bank and Trust (bronze). Banquet sponsors are 501 LIFE (gold); and Rita’s Italian Ice of Conway and Events Rentals and Floral (silver).

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The event will include a silent auction.

Tickets are $40 per person and may be purchased by contacting the Chamber at 501.679.4009.