27 Oct 2021 Person of the Month: Charles Finkenbinder
Each weekday morning and afternoon, you’ll find the Conway City Attorney volunteering as a school crossing guard and at bus stops. “Watch out for our school buses and school crosswalks,” Finkenbinder said. “Instead of seeing an approaching bus or kids at a crosswalk as a delay, see it as an opportunity to show these children that their safety is important to us, that they are valuable, that they matter. Stopping for a school bus or for kids at a crosswalk … is a chance to do an important public service.”
My wife, Trina, and two children, Charles Christian and Madeline Grace. We have a blue heeler mix named Alice.
I have a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a law degree from William Bowen School of Law.
City attorney of Conway, appointed Jan. 1 after serving as chief deputy city attorney from 2017 to 2021. I’ve been licensed to practice law since 2001 and have previously served as a child welfare attorney and administrative law judge for the state and as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Faulkner County.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE on YOUR FIELD:
When I was 7, my teacher told us about a group of Native Americans fighting to keep their land and homes. They lost every fight on the battlefield, but when they took their struggle to court through a lawsuit, they won because a judge ruled in their favor. My teacher showed us that people may be poor, powerless, outnumbered, and outgunned, but in our nation, the courts of law could provide an equal playing field. I wanted to be a part of that system, and upon my return home from school that day, I gave a speech to my family that I was going to be a lawyer and help the people who could not fight for themselves. My goal each day is to be the kind of lawyer that little boy wanted me to be.
AWARDS AND HONORS:
Earlier this year, I was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Equally important is a toy horse given to me by a child whose abuser I prosecuted. In the meetings to prepare for trial, the girl was scared to testify, and I told her she could bring her favorite stuffed animal to help her be brave. She selected a horse doll and held it while she testified. Afterward, her mom sent me a stuffed horse from her daughter, along with a card that said the child “wanted you to have a horse.” I believe the little girl wanted me to have it so that it would help me be brave too.
I am very proud to be a member of Rotary and Kiwanis, the City of Conway’s Adopt-a-Street Program, and Meals on Wheels.
We attended First Assembly North Little Rock for many years, but while we love our First NLR church family, we want our church home to be in Conway and have started the transition to 2nd Baptist Church.
MOST CHERISHED POSSESSION:
The Airborne wings I received upon graduating from U.S. Army Airborne School in 1986. I was terrified of heights, but my fellow soldiers helped me overcome that fear. The day of graduation, my Airborne instructor, in accordance with long-standing tradition, pounded those wings into my chest. I have never been more proud because my fellow soldiers were there for me. To me, those wings represent the brotherhood that carried me through my years of service in the Army and on into civilian life.
MOST ENJOYED WEEKEND ACTIVITY:
Anything involving my kids – kayaking, bicycle riding, or games.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501:
Conway is a town of opportunities. When I came here in 1991, I was a year out of the Army. I had no money and no prospects, and my skills as an infantryman and paratrooper were not exactly in high demand in the civilian world. And yet the people of Conway took me in. You might say they adopted this young veteran who came with little more than the clothes on his back. I love how when there is a need, the people of the community come together. I love how so many people here look for ways to help their fellow citizens. Conway has so many organizations that not only work hard to fill the needs of those less fortunate, they also work hard to bring diverse people together to build bridges in our community and create a sense of belonging. So, the little things that I do are out of a tremendous sense of gratitude for all this community has done for me and for my family.