Movers and shakers

501 LIFE recently asked readers to share their thoughts on “Movers and Shakers” — individuals who go above and beyond to help their community. It could be an elected official or someone who volunteers of his/her time, talent and resources to make the 501 a great place.

Of the responses received, 501 selected three to highlight in this edition:

Courtney Williams – A special education teacher in the Greenbrier School District.
Katherine Foust – A retired Morrilton business woman who is an “extreme volunteer.”
Wes Craiglow – A City of Conway employee who has put his military service to work to help those impacted at times of disaster through Team Rubicon. (See Pages 28-29)

There were many great nominations, and 501 LIFE hopes to profile more “Movers and Shakers” in the months ahead.


Susie Freyaldenhoven
St. Joseph Middle School Principal in Conway
Nominator: Christy Trantina/Parent and Bigelow resident

“During the 2013-14 school year, Susie developed and implemented a technology integration initiative for St. Joseph School (SJS) in Conway . . . Susie’s strength and determination go beyond the school campus. A few years ago, she battled serious health issues including a kidney transplant. She never lost faith that God would take care of her. SJS families are honored to have Susie as a leader and Christian role model for our children. We are grateful for her hard work and dedication to providing quality education to the children in our community.”

Aaron Reddin of North Little Rock
Founder and president of The One, Inc.
Nominators: Tricia Williams of Beebe and Lisa Harrison of Conway

“He has given up his whole life, literally, to make a difference in the lives of our unsheltered homeless neighbors in Arkansas,” wrote Tricia. “He fights relentlessly to give love and dignity to people with no questions asked. He’s not afraid to tell the truth about homelessness and bust all the stereotypes wide open. He is a true advocate to the core, and it’s not for show or any other reason but to give his heart to help make life on the streets or in the woods just a little bit better for the friends that he meets that live outside.”

John Allison
Vilonia High School math teacher
Nominator: Debby Mauldin/Vilonia High School

“John truly is a man of God. He sees needs, and he is a worker that makes sure those needs are met. It can be tutoring math before and after school or helping anywhere he sees a need. John was one of the very first to come from Cabot to the Vilonia community to assist with cleanup and debris removal when the tornadoes have hit.”

Johnny Adams
President and CEO at First Security Bank
Nominator: Jennifer Harrison/First Security Bank, Conway

“Johnny is the type of person/boss that will lend a helping hand in our community whether it is monetary or physical presence. He has a passion for making Conway the best it can be! He has spent countless hours volunteering his time on various boards and non-profit campaign drives . . . Johnny made sure our staff was ready and available first thing Monday morning in Vilonia and Mayflower on April 28, the day after the tornadoes hit their communities. We have fed thousands of people during the last several weeks. He never waivers when our communities need help!”

Wes Dyson
Vice President, Regions Insurance
Nominator: Bart Shaw/Conway Title

“Wes has grown the business into a very good producer for the company and made a significant impact. He continues to grow the business by providing customer service, competitive rates and superior products . . . He has been involved with Rotary, the Faulkner County Leadership Institute and other community organizations through sponsorships and participation.”

Ed Viera
Head Wrestling Coach at Maumelle
Nominator: Sherman Cox/Maumelle High School

“Ed Viera has taken a small wrestling program from its infancy at Oak Grove to the premier high school wrestling program in Central Arkansas. He has made the wrestling team at Maumelle High School the pride of this community, but has not only high expectations of his student-athletes in the competitive field, but also as great representatives of Maumelle and its surrounding communities . . . Coach Ed Viera is truly a hero to our students, school and community.”

Dr. Gayle Seymour
Art Historian more than 10 years
Nomination: Becky Thornton/Carl Stuart Middle School in Conway

“She has made a tremendous difference through the many public art installations and Arts Fest. She is a respected art historian and faculty member at the University of Central Arkansas. She and her husband made the mural for the skate park a reality. She works tirelessly to bring worldwide quality art and artists to enhance the lives of all of us in this area.”

Joe Buckley
Superintendent at Petit Jean State Park
Nominator: Debbie Shelman of Malvern

“He carries the entire park operation on his shoulders with an attitude of honor and respect for all.”

Tess Fletcher
Executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance
Nominator: Louise Furst/Volunteer, CASA, The Children’s Room

“Tess started as a CASA volunteer, was hired as a volunteer coordinator, moved on to ED of CASA, helped implement the Children Advocacy Center and the merger of CASA in the same building and continued to develop the program to its finest end of having a one stop children’s examination when a child is a victim of abuse, sexual or physical.”

Helen Leffert
Volunteer for many years
Nominator: Pam Johnson/Second Baptist Church of Conway

“Mrs. Helen is always on
the go. She volunteers with Soul Food Cafe Ministries every week. She also volunteers at Second Baptist Church two days a week answering the phone . . . This ‘young’ lady always has a smile, a kind word of encouragement and is a ray of sunshine to everyone she comes in contact with. Her love for Jesus Christ shines through in everything she does and says.”

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell
Nominator: Jack Bell/City of Conway

“Tab is a visionary who has had the courage to lead Conway in the direction of his vision. Our city has benefited from his leadership and guidance . . . He has led the city through good times and bad with unwavering loyalty to Conway and its citizens.”

Esther McClellan
Co-owner of US Pizza in Conway
Nominator: Don Henderson/US Pizza Conway

“A mother of three children, she co-manages 40-plus people at US Pizza. She chairs the American Cancer Society Celebrity Waiter at US Pizza every year and gives countless hours and raises over $30,000 per year for cancer.”

Matt LaForce
AVP & Lender, First Security Bank/Searcy
Nominator: Kristi Thurmon/First Security Bank

“Matt is a Searcy native and serves on numerous community boards. He has a hand in so many important things in our community. He is the president of Kiwanis and serves on the board of the Robert E. Elliott Foundation, where he organized the Stride for Suicide Prevention 5K. He is a deacon at First Baptist Church in Searcy. He is also a former board member of the White County Fair.”

Jason Rapert
State senator and president of Rapert Financial and Associates
Nominator: Craig A. Cloud/AEDD Inc./Conway

“As the elected state senator for District 35, Jason has distinguished himself as a leader in the Arkansas General Assembly and is a tremendous advocate for his district. As Chair of Insurance and Commerce, his leadership is critical in protecting and supporting the natural gas industry, which is a critical and key part of our community. Jason is a tremendous advocate for the 501 neighborhood. As a business owner in our community, Jason distinguishes himself as a qualified financial advisor to many residents and business owners of our community.”

Aaron Knight
Research & Communications Specialist, University of Central Arkansas/President of Smith Knight & Associates
Nominator: Arch Jones

“Aaron, while still a young gun, has a resume that rivals someone twice his age. Starting his first business as a teenager, he is defined by his entrepreneurial passion, imagination, initiative and readiness to undertake new challenges. It doesn’t matter if it’s in his work at UCA, on behalf of one of his clients, or digging a ditch, Aaron is committed to succeeding and achieving results.”

Shelli Crowell of Morrilton
Nominator: Randy Crowell

“She is involved in many community organizations and charities, including chairperson for Conway County Run Walk Clinic, the board of Main Street Morrilton and Morrilton Booster Club. She has also been on Century League and director of Project Graduation. Shelli has an impact on people everywhere she goes. She gives her time freely for city organizations, charities as well as youth development . . . Not only is she a wonderful wife and mother to her own children, but she makes all children feel at home, often transporting them, giving them a safe place to stay and being a support system and role model.”