In 2016, WFA presented the inaugural First Lady’s Woman in Public Service award. WFA established the award in partnership with Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson to celebrate and acknowledge a woman who is committed to empowering and inspiring women and girls through a career in public service. The award is presented at the Power of the Purse Luncheon.
2022 Woman in Public Service Award Honoree
First Lady Susan Hutchinson
First Lady Susan Hutchinson brings to the Governor’s Mansion a lifetime of experience advocating for and working with children.
Immediately prior to assuming the role of First Lady, the former schoolteacher spent several years on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, one of 16 non-profit Children’s Advocacy Centers around the state that work with abused children. Among other initiatives, Mrs. Hutchinson hopes to see the establishment of more Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout Arkansas.
As Arkansas’s first lady, Mrs. Hutchinson also hopes to inspire educators to incorporate music into the daily lives of students. Ideally, she believes every child should have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument — at least for one full school year. The first lady herself plays the piano and all four of her children learned to play instruments.
Mrs. Hutchinson sees the arts as “brain builders” for children and hopes to advocate for more exposure to the arts in general for students in Arkansas.
Among the organizations with which the first lady is committed to working are the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (she’s served as a member of the ASO guild for several years), the Museum of Discovery and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In the past, Mrs. Hutchinson has served on regional boards of the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Susan grew up “as blue-collar as you can get” as the second of seven children. She was the valedictorian of Fulton High School with designs on being a doctor once she attended college at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Instead, after graduation she taught biology and algebra in Memphis, where she maintained a relationship with an ambitious Arkansas man she met in college named Asa Hutchinson.
The governor and first lady have now been married for 48 years. They have four children, seven grandchildren and a 11-year-old rescue cat named Snowflake.
Previous First Lady’s Woman in Public Service Award Honorees
Amy Fecher – 2020 First Lady’s Woman in Public Service
Amy Fecher is Chief Transformation Officer of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Office of Transformation, which the governor created in 2016 to streamline state government. She led the Governor’s efforts to pass the Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019 – the first reorganization of state government in almost 50 years. Fecher also is Executive Vice President of Operations at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and Governor Hutchinson’s designee to the Delta Regional Authority’s Board of Governors. Fecher has worked for more than 15 years in the public and notfor-profit sector. She was Director of the Arkansas Department of Rural Services (now a division of AEDC), and she served in former Governor Mike Huckabee’s administration. In 2017, State Scoop chose Fecher as one of the top 50 women in technology in the nation for her work to transform Arkansas state government. Fecher is a volunteer coach and mentor with the Miracle League of Arkansas. She also serves on the Information Network of Arkansas Board. Her past service includes positions on the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Ground Commission, and the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Fecher is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas. She and her husband, Shawn, have three sons and live in Sherwood.
Patricia Brown – 2019 First Lady’s Woman in Public Service
Patricia Nunn Brown, a polished career state government professional with the ability to build, manage and sustain long-term valued customer (internal and external) relationships at all levels.
She was the Director of the Minority and Women Business Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Brown has spent much of her professional career with AEDC, including positions in administration, research, business development and marketing and managing the AEDC’s Trade Show Program. She presently serves as the Director of the Minority Business Division.
Brown was born and raised in Camden, Arkansas. She is a graduate of Philander Smith College, as well as both the Basic Economic Development Institute at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and the Economic Development Institute University of Oklahoma at Norman, Okla. She also attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and Southern Arkansas Tech in East Camden.She is a graduate of the LeadAR Program Class 16, a member and past president of the Economic Developers of Arkansas, a graduate of the Greater Little Rock Leadership Class XXII, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Past, State and Alternate Director for the Southern Economic Development Council, Arkansas Foodbank Network Board Member, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas Board Member and Beta Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 2011 she received Small Business Administration (SBA) Minority Small Business Champion Award, Arkansas Baptist College Community Beacon Light Award and was named by the Jefferson County Banner as one of Arkansas Top 25 Influential African American Women, Honorary Life member of the Southern Economic Development Council, Maria Haley Lifetime Leadership Award and the Power of the Purse 1st Lady’s Woman of Public Service. She has served as a volunteer with the American Red Cross and Baptist Hospital. She is an active member of the Longley Baptist Church and her community.
Brown and her husband, Richard Brown Jr., have three children and six grandchildren. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, shopping and checking out estate sales.
Annie Abrams – 2018 First Lady’s Woman in Public Service
Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams is a retired educator and a political, social, civic, and community activist in Little Rock. She was instrumental in campaigns to rename various Little Rock streets in honor of Daisy Bates and Mayor Charles Bussey. Most notably, she was a leader in the campaign resulting in the renaming of High Street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and in the institution of Little Rock’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Additionally, Annie was involved in the desegregation of Central High School, involved in Democratic party politics, at one point joining a group of women who campaigned for Republican Winthrop Rockefeller for governor, as well as an active member of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) during the 1970s. Created in partnership with Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson, the Woman in Public Service award celebrates a woman’s commitment to empowering and inspiring women and girls through a career in public service.
Betty Dickey – 2017 First Lady’s Woman in Public Service
Betty was born at Black Rock on February 23, 1940 in Walnut Ridge. In 1962 she graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She spent the next several years raising five children, an adopted son, three biological siblings, and a foster daughter while teaching second grade.
In 1985 she graduated from UALR School of Law in Little Rock and began working at City Attorney for Pine Bluff and Redfield. From 1991 to 1993 she was the Commission Attorney for Arkansas Soil & Water Conservation Commission. In 1994 she was elected Prosecuting Attorney of the Eleventh Judicial District, West, and was reelected in 1996. She ran unsuccessfully in 1998 for Attorney General. She served from 1999 to 2003 as Commissioner of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. In 2003 she became Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor. In 2004, Governor Mike Huckabee appointed her Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, then appointed her Associate Justice of the Court in 2005.When she completed her service on the Court she taught as an adjunct professor at UALR, then joined NPACE, to serve her country as a Professor at Sea, serving on the USS-DG McFaul, a navy destroyer serving in the Middle East. She is the first woman in Arkansas to be elected Prosecuting Attorney, the first woman to serve as a Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, and the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. She is the widow of Charles M. Davis, MD, and she has six children and thirteen grandchildren. Her hobbies include tennis, white water rafting, and painting.
Commissioner Colette D. Honorable – Inaugural First Lady’s Woman in Public Service
Commissioner Colette D. Honorable was nominated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by President Barack Obama in August 2014, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December 2014 for a term that expires in June 2017. An attorney, Commissioner Honorable came to FERC from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, where she served since October 2007, and led as Chairman from January 2011-January 2015.
Prior to joining the Arkansas PSC, Honorable served as chief of staff to then Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe and as a member of the governor’s cabinet as Executive Director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board. Her previous employment includes service as a consumer protection and civil litigation attorney, and as a senior assistant attorney general in Medicaid fraud before serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.
A native of Arkansas, Honorable is a graduate of the University of Memphis and received a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.