Arkansas Achievers


• Melinda Wilkins, Ph.D., a registered health information administrator and a fellow of the American Health Information Management Association, began her distinguished career in 1988. She currently serves as an educator in Russellville as director of Health Informatics and Health Information Management Programs at Arkansas Tech University. Recently, Wilkins was nominated for the Educator of the Year award, but instead was honored nationally by the American Health Information Management Association as recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Member Award. On the state level she was awarded the Distinguished Member and Living Legacy awards by the Arkansas Health Information Management Association.

• The Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives organization honored the following people at its annual awards luncheon on Aug. 23: Julie Allen, executive director of the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, Outstanding Chamber Executive; Katherine Holmstrom, a senior project manager in the Business Development Division at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in Little Rock, Outstanding Economic Developer; and Kimberly B. Dale, a principal in the firm of Branch, Thompson, Warmath & Dale in Paragould, Volunteer of the Year.

• Taryn Echols, an assistant superintendent in the Hot Springs School District, has received the 2021 Administrator of the Year award from the Arkansas Association of Curriculum & Instruction Administrators.

• Whit Long, Hot Springs World Class High School Trojan T-Stepper captain, earned All-American at the Universal Dance Association camp and received an invitation to perform in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Honolulu in December.

• J.P. Gairhan, a 2019 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville graduate, has been awarded an English teaching assistantship with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which will allow him to teach in Botswana for the coming academic year. Gairhan, a Cabot native, graduated cum laude with a degree in African and African American studies, history and political science from the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

• The Arkansas Arts Council and Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced this year's recipients of Individual Artist Fellowship awards. Each honoree will receive a fellowship of $4,000. Cinematic Arts/Director of Documentary or Narrative Films: Rontaye Miquan Butler of Fayetteville, who is studying for a master's degree in photography; Thomas James Deeter of Little Rock, a screenwriter and director; and Lisa Marie Evans of Fayetteville, project manager for creative development at the Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange. Contemporary Craft: Aaron Calvert of Russellville, a professor of art at Henderson State University; Kara Gunter of Hot Springs, program manager at Emergent Arts; Kensuke Yamada of Little Rock, an assistant professor of art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Poetry: Kaveh Bassiri of Fayetteville, a doctoral candidate in comparative literature at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Hiba Tahir of Fayetteville, a candidate for a master's degree in poetry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; and Karstin Johnson of Fayetteville, a candidate for a master's degree in creative writing at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Arkansas Achievers is an opportunity to give recognition to Arkansans for their achievements.

Civilian and military achievements are accepted.

Please follow these guidelines:


1) Must be an Arkansan or have graduated from a school in Arkansas.

2) Received an award, scholarship, medal or promotion.

Pageants, deans' lists, graduations or military enlistments are not accepted.

No photographs please.

To submit an Achiever email us at with the words "Arkansas Achievers" in the subject line.

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