[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ admin_label=”Section” _builder_version=”4.5.7″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.5.7″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.5.7″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_post_title meta=”off” featured_image=”off” _builder_version=”4.5.8″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_post_title][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”||||false|false” custom_padding=”||||false|false”]200,000 More Reasons and The Delta Project initiatives of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas recently held a series of webinars aimed at helping individuals connect with their communities.

The webinars took place on three consecutive Wednesdays in September, starting Sept. 9 from 12 – 1 p.m. via Zoom video conferencing platform.

There were three different webinars in this series, each focusing on an important element of alleviating poverty in Arkansas:

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Poverty in Arkansas (09/09/2020)

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Literacy As Poverty Alleviation Strategy (09/16/2020)

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Ministry With Your Neighbors (09/23/2020)

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Bishop Gary Mueller
Episcopal Leader of the Arkansas Conference UMC

Bishop Gary E. Mueller was elected an episcopal leader of the United Methodist Church on July 19, 2012, and is assigned to lead the Arkansas Area.

After a friend invited him to attend UMYF his sophomore year of high school, Mueller came to a point of being ready to profess his faith in Christ. His call to ministry began to emerge a few years later, while he attended the University of Kansas. He went on to receive his theological education at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He was ordained an Elder in the North Texas Conference in 1981.

Mueller remained in north Texas, serving pastoral appointments at First UMC Richardson, Brewster Memorial and McKenzie Memorial UMC, First United Methodist Church Roanoke-Trophy Club-Westlake, First UMC Denton and First UMC Plano. He also served for four years as Director of Connectional Ministries for the North Texas Conference Council.

Before his election to the episcopacy, he held a number of leadership roles, including delegate to the 2012 General Conference; four-time delegate to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference; chair of the North Texas Conference Ministry Center Building Committee during the design and construction of a new Conference Ministry Center; representative on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Task Force that designed the residency period during provisional membership for commissioned deacons and elders; and chair of the North Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry from 2008 until 2012.

He married Karen Goodman Mueller in 2016. Together, they have four adult children and spouses, Hailey and Stephen, Nick and Carrie, Kirk and Tiffany and Jeff and Dusty, as well as two adorable granddaughters, Madeline and Claire.

Bishop Mueller’s passion is leading spiritual revival that results in vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who then make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.

Dr. Jay Barth
Chief Education Officer for the City of Little Rock and M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Emeritus Professor of Politics at Hendrix College

Dr. Jay Barth is Chief Education Officer for the City of Little Rock coordinating the City’s work to support education from birth through higher education in Little Rock. He is also M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Emeritus Professor of Politics at Hendrix College. In 2007, Barth was named Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), in 2014 was named winner of the Southern Political Science Association’s Diane Blair Award for Outstanding Achievement in Politics and Government, in 2018 received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Arkansas Political Science Association, and gained the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Boards of Education. In 2000-01, Barth received the Steiger Congressional Fellowship from the American Political Science Association and served on the staff of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (MN) working on education and civil rights policy.

From 2012 to 2019, Barth was a member of the Arkansas State Board of Education chairing that body for two years. He also presently serves as Vice-Chair of the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation and as a member of the boards of Central Arkansas Water, the ACLU of Arkansas, and Planned Parenthood Great Plains. In the past, Barth has chaired the Boards of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, Just Communities of Arkansas, the ACLU of Arkansas, the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Pulaski County, and was a twelve-year member of the board of the National ACLU.

Rev. Shantell Hinton Hill
Equity Officer, ALICE Project, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Shantell is the ultimate Renaissance woman. When she’s not building and maintaining deep relationships with community members, she’s helping the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation ask deep questions about the realities and new futures that an equitable Arkansas would mean for all of its residents. Currently, Shantell is focused on narrative change and community voice as a means for radical movement building.

A native of Conway, Arkansas, Shantell is married to Rev. Jeremy Hill. She recently obtained a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. She also earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the National Society of Black Engineers. Her vocational experiences include work as a Process Control Engineer, a Bible teacher, and, most recently, Assistant University Chaplain at Vanderbilt University. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Shantell is passionate about taking action at the intersections of social justice, theology, and faith-based coalition building. In her spare time, Shantell loves coloring, writing, and science fiction. Her favorite quote is, “Do the work your soul must have,” coined by the late womanist pioneer Rev. Katie G. Cannon, Ph.D.



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Dr. Dionne Jackson
Executive Director of AR Kids Read

Dr. Dionne Jackson serves as Executive Director of AR Kids Read, a literacy nonprofit with the vision of ensuring that all of Arkansas’s children read on grade-level by the end of 3rd grade. She has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. Her experiences in the field include serving as a public school teacher, professor, and higher education administrator. She earned her Doctor of Education from Baylor University, a Master of Science in Education at the University of Central Arkansas, and her Bachelor of Arts from Hendrix College. She is a graduate of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute, a member of Leadership Greater Little Rock Class XXXV, and enjoys serving as a children’s ministry volunteer at her church. She is married to Mr. Troy Jackson and has two children, Jamil and Chloe.

Morgan Stafford
Executive Director of the Memphis Wesley Foundation and Cross-Cultural Strategist for the Metro District of The United Methodist Church

Morgan Stafford serves as Executive Director of the Memphis Wesley Foundation and as Cross-Cultural Strategist for the Metro District of The United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was a founding student of the Belmont Wesley Fellowship. Before moving to Memphis, Morgan served with Bishop Bill McAlilly’s office as the Cross-Cultural Strategist and Ministry Intern for the Nashville Episcopal Area. He previously served on staff at Christ’s Foundry United Methodist Mission, United Methodist Communications and Antioch United Methodist Church. He served two summers as an intern with Project Transformation Tennessee. Morgan is a native of Erin, TN and his home church is Erin United Methodist Church.

Jerrod Williams
Superintendent of Sheridan Public Schools

Since July 1, 2014, Jerrod Williams has served as superintendent of the Sheridan School District, overseeing a student population of more than 4,200 students and almost 500 employees.

Williams has worked in public education the last 23 years, with 13 of those years serving as a superintendent in Arkansas school districts. Prior to joining the Sheridan School District, he was superintendent at Bauxite and Pangburn school districts. Throughout his career in public education, Williams has served as an elementary principal, middle school teacher, gifted and talented specialist, behavior specialist, and transportation director.

Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s of Education from Harding University. He has completed graduate and post-graduate studies in the fields of gifted education and educational leadership. He currently serves as the Board President of the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative, President of Economics Arkansas, Vice-President of the Grant County Industrial Development Corporation, and Secretary of Kick Start Sheridan. Recently, he served on governing boards including Saline County Executive Association, Saline County 2020 Committee, Arkansas Association of School Administrators, Arkansas Association of Gifted Education Administrators, and past Board Chairman of White County Federal Credit Union.

During his time in Sheridan, the school district has experienced a substantial increase in students participating in school choice, a 50% reduction in teacher turnover, and the successful passing of a millage that has culminated in a building program in excess of 60 million dollars. Williams has presented at many state and national conference on communication, community engagement, and raising student achievement.

He resides in Sheridan, Arkansas, with his wife, Brandi, and their two children, Baylor and Judson. Williams and his family attend Sheridan First United Methodist Church where he and Brandi teach the 3rd through 5th grade Sunday School Class.



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Southwest Little Rock Ministry Partnership Leader for Geyer Springs and St. Andrew United Methodist Church

Danita is currently serving as the Senior Pastor of the newly created Southwest Little Rock Ministry Partnership which includes Geyer Springs United Methodist Church and St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the partnership she leads two multi-cultural, multi-ethnic congregations with the vision of better reaching the vibrant community in that area with the message of Jesus Christ.

Prior to her serving in this capacity, she served as pastor of the White Memorial United Methodist Church in Little Rock, AR. In the five years she served as pastor the church had a 47% increase in membership. Prior to that appointment, Danita served as the Minister of Music at Theressa Hoover UMC for more than 20 years; beginning as a college student.

A graduate of Philander Smith College with a degree in Organizational Management, she has sung in choirs and groups since the age of seven. A member of the National Gospel Workshop of America, Waller-Paige sung with the Philander Smith Collegiate Choir where she served as Student Conductor. During her matriculation at Philander, she had the pleasure to perform the famous “Amen” with the late great African American composer and actor Jester Hariston. For more than 20 years she has sung with a local gospel group Triumphant!. Danita served as the Worship and Music leader for the National Black Clergy Women’s Conference (UMC), the past four sessions of the National Youth Harambee (UMC), and the Worship and Music leader for many years with the National Black Methodists for Church Renewal Convention. As a singer she has also shared the stage with many recording artists such Michael Bolton, Jennifer Holiday, Dr. Bobby Jones, Karen Clark-Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Douglas Miller, Gaye Arbukle, Gerald Thompson, and many others.

A founding member of Datule’ Artist Collective, Danita specializes in leading ecumenical workshops in blending gospel and contemporary music in order to reach youth and young adults with the message of Jesus Christ. She has preached, led worship, and served as a clinician for workshops for: the Christian Methodist Episcopal District in Little Rock, Fellowship Bible Church, Antioch Full Gospel Church, several Baptist and United Methodist Churches. Danita has worked with Mission U (formerly known as School of Christian Mission) since 2003 where she has served as Jr High, High School, Music Leader and Adult Study leader. She has most recently served on the national level as a Regional School facilitator for the mission study on Covenant Communities and as a result, has served as a study leader in different district schools throughout the country. She is also a radio personality, affectionately known as, “Pastor Dee” on the JC Loves’ Morning Show on joynetradio.com.

Some of the recent honors Pastor Paige has achieved are the Humanitarian Award in the field of Religion from Designing Women’s Ministry – 2016, and the Distinguished Young Alumni Award in the field of Religion from Philander Smith College 2016. She is a gifted biblical preacher/teacher who is currently furthering her knowledge at Memphis Theological Seminary as she works toward a Master of Divinity. A passionate worshipper and lover of the Gospel, Waller Paige believes that all things are possible in Christ Jesus and has adopted the quote of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Harriet Phillips
Office of Mayor Frank Scott Volunteer, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church’s Friends & Neighbor Network; and Chair of Jericho Way Local Area Council

Born in Aurora, Missouri, Harriet received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arkansas. After graduation, she served as an administrative aide to Governor Dale Bumpers, then entered the management development program with Southwestern Bell. She was transferred to Rogers, Arkansas as the area manager for Southwestern Bell.

Then for thirteen years she worked in grocery retailing where she built the human resource department and was vice-president of human resources for a 22 store, 2500 employee chain of stores in Arkansas.

From 1989-1996 she worked with the University of Arkansas providing communications, problem solving and team building training to Arkansas companies. She is a certified Zenger-Miller facilitator.

After moving to Oklahoma in august 1995, she served as a volunteer development officer for the OSU athletic department until August 1997. She also planned and implemented all the special events for the athletic department and was the athletic department liaison to the architects in the remodel of Gallagher-Iba arena and the expansion of Cowboy Stadium and suites.

In 2005, she moved back to Arkansas and worked as the volunteer office manager for the successful Mike Beebe for Governor campaign. She then worked as the executive assistant to the chief of staff for Governor Mike Beebe from 2007-2015.

In 2015 she worked as a personnel analyst for the Office of Personnel Management, State of Arkansas. From 2016-2018 she was the executive assistant to the Executive Director of the Clinton Foundation. In 2018 she “retired” and now volunteers for Mayor Frank Scott working on homeless, food insecurity and HR issues.

Kimberly Hayman, PhD(c), RN, FRN
Faith-based Outreach Coordinator, Arkansas Dept. of Health

Kimberly Hayman is the Faith-based Outreach Coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). She has been a Registered Nurse for over 28 years and is also a Faith Community Nurse (FCN). Kimberly has a passion for helping others live the healthiest life possible and believes that we can serve more effectively when we are at our best health. As a Faith Community Nurse, Kimberly recognizes spiritual health as the core of a person’s well-being and works with communities of faith on health outreach that impacts health, healing and wholeness. She loves working with communities of faith, because as healing communities, they have a broad reach allowing focus on the body-mind-spirit connection that she believe is so necessary to improve health. Kimberly connects and coordinates the many programs, initiatives and services that ADH provides to communities of faith, while simultaneously keeping communities of faith connected to opportunities which can help their congregates live healthy lives. Kimberly continually seeks out opportunities to connect and engage with communities of faith to improve health.

Sydney Howell
Coordinator, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church’s Friends & Neighbor Network

Sydney Howell is a surgical tech at St. Vincent Hospital. She has a beautiful family, two drastic dogs, and cares deeply about helping people. While putting herself through school, she worked with Harriett Phillips and Mande Corbett to establish a new FANN (Friends and Neighbors Network) ministry at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church. She has been the coordinator there for the last 3 years and thanks her local FANN for a lot of personal and culinary growth over the years.



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