LR Women Making History – Pat Lile

Pat Lile has worked to make Little Rock, and indeed all of Arkansas, a better place.

A native of Hope, she attended Hendrix College.  After marriage and her husband’s law school, Pat and John Lile settled in Pine Bluff.  For nearly three decades she devoted herself to improving that city. She served in many volunteer leadership positions, so it is no surprise that in 1981, she and John founded Leadership Pine Bluff to help cultivate the next leaders.  She served as its executive director for nine years.

In 1990, the Liles moved to Little Rock.  From 1990 to 1995, she was the Executive Director of the Commission for Arkansas’ Future.  Then in 1996, she became President and CEO of the Arkansas Community Foundation.  Until her retirement in 2007, she led that organization as it grew.  Since her retirement, she has not slowed down.

Among the organizations she has founded or co-founded since the 1970s include Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Non-profit Alliance.  She is on the Board of Trustees of Philander Smith College, U.S. Marshals Museum and Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp. She is also very active in her church, First United Methodist.

Lile has received a number of other honors including the Arkansas Community Foundation’s Lugean Chilcote award in the late 1980’s and the “Roots and Wings” Arkansas Benefactor award in 2008. Entergy, Inc. awarded her its “Distinguished Leadership Award” in 1997. Appointed by then President Bill Clinton, she was the only Arkansas delegate to the 1999 White House Conference on Philanthropy. In 2004 the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Arkansas Commission named her the recipient of a “Salute to Greatness” Community Service Award. In March of 2009 Lile was named by Arkansas Business, the state’s premier weekly business publication, as one of the top 25 Arkansas women leaders over the past 25 years, one of only two from the philanthropic sector. In March of 2010 Lile was presented the Father Joseph Biltz award from Just Communities of Arkansas (JCA).  In 2016, she received the James E. Harris Nonprofit Leadership Award.

The real reason Pat Lile has been successful is her determination and dedication. She is an encourager who works to bring out the best in others. Whether she is serving as a Brownie leader in Pine Bluff or attending a White House summit, Pat Lile believes that everyone in the room has the capacity to change lives by showing love for others. And then she does not give up!

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LR Women Making History: Lottie Shackelford

Lottie Shackelford has been a trailblazer throughout her career in public service.

Active in community activities and politics, she ran for the City Board in 1974 and lost.  But she was appointed to the Little Rock City Board in September 1978 to fill a vacancy.  This made her the first African American woman to serve on he City Board, and indeed on any governing board for the City (during Reconstruction, there were at least three African Americans on the City Council, but they were all men.) She was subsequently elected to a full-term on the City Board in 1980 winning 55% of the vote over three male candidates.

She was subsequently re-elected in 1984 (unopposed) and in 1988 (with 60% of the vote).

In January 1987, Shackelford became the first female mayor of Little Rock when she was chosen by her colleagues on the City Board to serve in that position. She was Mayor until December 1988.

From 1982 until 1992, she served as Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Minority Purchasing Council.  She left that position to serve as Deputy Campaign Manager of Clinton for President.  She subsequently served on the Clinton/Gore transition team. She later served on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation from 1993 to 2003. She was the first African American to be in that position.

A graduate of Philander Smith College, she has also studied at the Arkansas Institute of Politics at Hendrix College and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In recognition of all of her achievements, she has been included in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame.

Women’s History Month – Dr. Joycelyn Elders

Being the second female and first African American female to serve as Surgeon General, was just another milestone in the career of Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

In 1960, she graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Though not the first African American female to do so, she was very much in a minority for both her race and her gender.  In 1967, she would return to UAMS as a faculty member.

After two decades of service as a physician and educator, Governor Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987.  She was the first African American woman to lead that department.  She led that department until 1992.  At that point in time, President Bill Clinton tapped her to be Surgeon General.

Upon leaving the post of Surgeon General, she returned to UAMS as a professor. She is now a professor emeritus.  Dr. Elders is also in demand as a lecturer and panelist.

She has been inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail.

Women’s History Month – Lottie Shackelford, first woman to serve as Little Rock mayor

Lottie at Civil RightsFirst woman mayor of Little Rock:  Lottie Shackelford

Lottie Shackelford served as mayor of Little Rock from January 1987 until December 1988. She was Little Rock’s 68th mayor and the first woman to serve in that capacity.  She was first appointed to the Little Rock Board of Directors in September 1978 to fill an unexpired term.  She later was elected in her own right and served until December 1992.  She was the first African American woman to ever serve on a governing body for the City of Little Rock.

She later served two terms on the Little Rock Airport Commission.  She also served as Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1989 until 2014. She is the longest serving vice chair of the party.  She has been a delegate to every Democratic National Convention since 1980.

In recognition of all of her achievements, she has been included in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame.