INSIDE: FILLED WITH GRACE: Russellville woman volunteers with Neighbors TableREAD ONLINE
CBC employee makes time for classes, communityOriginally Published February 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 8, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
Talk about walking the walk.
Amy Reed’s job at Central Baptist College in Conway is director of enrollment for nontraditional programs, and in January, she signed up to finish her degree.
“I’m in the PACE program right now getting my degree, which makes it sweeter because I’m experiencing what my students are experiencing.
“I tell them, if I can do this, you can do this,” she said, laughing.
She oversees PACE, Professional Adult College Education, and online enrollment.
Reed, 46, also took over in January as president of the Conway Regional Women’s Council, the health foundation’s advocacy group.
She’s been brainstorming with other women in the group to refresh and revamp programs.
Meanwhile, there’s her husband, Donnie, their two daughters, church and her volunteer work for Renewal Ranch and on the Toad Suck Daze Committee.
“Last year, I was on eight different boards or committees,” she said.
Reed said she told her husband she was going to scale back to a “doable amount.”
“I guess I was raised — this is what you do — you give back,” she said. “It was instilled in me.”
Reed joined Central Baptist College’s staff in June after working at First Security Bank as business-development officer.
“It’s a lot easier to convince somebody to continue their education than convince somebody to move their checking account,” she said.
“I love First Security,” she emphasized.
“This is just a much better fit with having the education background. I love it,” she said.
Reed grew up in Fort Smith, where her parents still live. Her father, Leroy Casalman, has been a barber almost 50 years; her mother, Sharon, was a stay-at-home mom when Reed was growing up and later worked in the Fort Smith School District’s purchasing department.
Reed has an older brother, Terry, who also lives in Fort Smith.
Reed said her parents were strict but loving.
“I grew up in just a great, normal middle-class family,” she said.
Reed went to Westark Community College out of high school. She met Donnie in chemistry class, “and boy, did we have chemistry,” she said, laughing at her joke.
“He’s my very best friend in the whole wide world, and I love him to pieces,” she said.
She transferred to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she majored in secondary education.
“I was going to be a teacher. I’m very motivated by people; I love people,” she said.
Not so much high school kids.
“I got to be practice teaching at Fayetteville High School, and I had no control over the classroom. I hated it,” she said.
Every other word out of Reed’s mouth is “love,” so that’s a strong statement.
At 21, she said she was barely older than her students and weighed 100 pounds dripping wet.
Reed told her university adviser she wanted to change to elementary education, but he told her that would mean 2 1/2 more years of college.
“I was in love and wanted to get married, so I quit,” she said.
“My parents — mmm, mmm,” she said, shaking her head at the memory.
They were not thrilled about her decision.
“They had never been to [college], so it was important for my brother and me,” she said.
Reed got married when she was 23 and started working at a bank in Fort Smith. Her husband started working for Cintas, a uniform company, where he is a territorial manager.
He transferred to the Maumelle location, and the couple moved to Conway 12 years ago.
“I just love it. I love the community,” she said.
Their daughters are 18 months apart, and she was a stay-at-home mother for 12 years.
Conway Development Corp. CEO Brad Lacy called Reed “out of the clear blue” about a job. They attend Second Baptist Church in Conway together, and both were in the choir until Reed took a break this past year.
“He needed an administrative assistant, and he said, ‘I think you’d be perfect.’”
Her position was split between Lacy and T.J. Johnston, then-director of the Conway Downtown Partnership.
“I had the absolute time of my life,” she said. “That’s where I made business connections and met so many good people.”
Then, she went to First Security for three years.
A friend going through the Faulkner County Leadership Institute, a CBC employee, told Reed about the job opening at the college.
It all seemed to come together.
“This is what I feel like I was made to be,” she said. “I feel like I can minister on this campus. I’m not an instructor. Yes, I’m an employee of CBC, but I feel like I’m [the nontraditional students’] No. 1 cheerleader.”
As director of nontraditional enrollment, Reed said, she’s the “buffer” between students and their dream of walking across the stage to get a diploma.
“I’m dreaming with them,” she said.
Her major is leadership in ministry.
“The leadership part of it is fabulous,” she said. “The ministry part, I’m basically doing a Bible study and getting a degree. How can you go wrong?’”
Reed is equally as excited about her new position as president of the Conway Regional Women’s Council. She served as an at-large member for six years, then got on the steering committee four years ago.
“Ah!” she said. “I love it. I got involved while I was working at the chamber.”
After her friend Shelia Whitmore finished her term as president, Reed stepped in.
Reed said the organization is expanding the number and kind of events it sponsors to reach women of all ages.
She mentioned self-defense classes, a CPR refresher course and a cooking class. A luncheon scheduled for March 28 at the University of Central Arkansas will give a “state-of-health-care” address for Arkansas, as well as one for Faulkner County. The council will continue to sponsor its major fundraiser, Dazzle Daze, and the Women’s Health Fair.
Reed’s goal is to get 200 members this year for the Conway Regional Women’s Council.
“You can do as little or as much as you want to do,” she said.
“I’ve got a full plate but, oh … I’m loving every minute of it.”
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.
Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.