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Emily Smith-CPEDPhone: 501-671-2138Fax: 501-671-2046 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Emily Smith - March 31, 2020
In this month’s LeadAR Alumni Spotlight, we talk with Ann Owen of LeadAR Class 11.
Owen recently joined the staff at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock as the
first-ever Sustainability Coordinator. In this part-time, volunteer position, Owen
will coordinate various creation care efforts, serve as a liaison between various
departments, and promote efforts to the wider community. A member of Presbyterian
Church with her husband Rick since 2006, Owen started the current Environmental Stewardship
group 10 years ago. These efforts played a role in the church becoming a PC (USA) Earth Care Congregation in 2010.
Owen has also served as a municipal recycling coordinator in Texas, as a community
relations representative at Heifer International, and as an AmeriCorps volunteer at
Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Owen earned a Master of Public Service degree at the
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in 2014, and has a BA in communication
from the University of Alabama. We’ve asked her to share how her LeadAR experience
informs her work and life today. We’ve shared her answers below.
I’m currently the Sustainability Coordinator at Second Presbyterian Church in Little
Rock, where we are working to reduce our carbon footprint – both at church (we recently
installed solar panels) and in the wider community. I’m also serving as the president
of the KLRE/KUAR Friends Board.
I joined LeadAR because I wanted to strengthen my knowledge of rural Arkansas and
the issues facing those communities. At the time, I worked for Heifer International,
which gave me the added incentive to learn more about agricultural issues domestically
LeadAR connected me with others that are passionate about our state and that want
to improve it, while helping me build my leadership capacity. It also helped me to
view situations from multiple perspectives.
The international trip my class took to Panama and Costa Rica underscored for me just
how much I had to learn about myself and the world, and that to be an effective leader,
I needed to increase my cultural literacy.
One of my favorite memories was the time when one of our classmates was anxious about
doing an extemporaneous talk, and another classmate offered wonderful words of reassurance
and encouragement – it was the epitome of gracious leadership! LeadAR gave me the
unique opportunity to introduce Gov. Asa Hutchinson during our class trip to Washington
DC – at the time, he was serving as the first Undersecretary for Border & Transportation
Security at the US Department of Homeland Security.
I would encourage emerging leaders to apply to the LeadAR program, as it has the potential
to increase your effectiveness by teaching you to work with others cooperatively and
collegially to achieve common goals.
I admire most leaders that have vision, integrity and empathy.
I’m a huge fan of the Enneagram – studying my personality type, and those of others,
has been extremely beneficial to me personally and professionally.
I’m currently reading All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists by NPR’s Terry Gross, gifted to me by my friend, and LeadAR Class 18 alum, Lori Burrows!
I’m watching Outlander, which I read more than 25 years ago -- This is Us, and Homeland.
For me, loving others and being loved in return is the most essential ingredient for
Learning more about our state not only helps us become better leaders and citizens
-- with more insight into the complex social and political issues that face our individual
communities, it provides the understanding that promotes the desire to make improvements
that benefit us collectively.
My passion for sustainability grew during my time in LeadAR, as I became more aware
of the environment as well as the needs of communities — large and small — around
the state. Later, as a student at the Clinton School of Public Service, I selected
as my Capstone, a research project for small town in Arkansas County: identifying
innovative tourism opportunities for DeWitt.
I’m very grateful that LeadAR alum Mark Robertson (Class 10) brought this project
to my attention, as it was both meaningful to me and beneficial to this Delta community.
More recently, my interest in sustainable living led my husband Rick and myself to
build a Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rated home in
Little Rock, one that won the National Home Project of the Year for 2018 from the
U.S. Green Building Council.
I’m grateful I had the opportunity during my two-year LeadAR experience to make connections
with my classmates, as well as with community leaders locally, nationally and internationally!