Gary B.: Area leaders recognized in Arkansas Business list of ‘Most Influential’

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In a special supplement to Arkansas Business magazine’s Nov. 4 edition, some area leaders were recognized among Arkansas’ 250 Most Influential Leaders.

Citizens Bank, under CEO Phillip N. Baldwin, was the winner of the American Bankers Association Community & Economic Development Award. Citizens Bank was the first bank to win the award which recognizes innovation and community impact in economic development. Baldwin lives in Batesville.

A director of Stone Bank was also recognized. Ray Dillon is a director of the State Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation. He has served on the Little Rock branch of the Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis.

The chief executive officer of Stone Bank, Marnie Oldner, was among the 250 Most Influential Leaders. Under her leadership, Stone Bank reached assets of more than $400 million after two years of being in the banking business. Stone Bank has several branches including one in Mountain View.

Another notice of recognition went to Reynie Rutledge, chairman of First Security Bancorp. Under his leadership, First Security, a tiny bank he purchased at the ripe old age of 27, has grown to $5.5 billion in assets. Rutledge serves on the board of Dillards, Inc., and lives in Searcy.

Former Batesville banker and native son, and now citizen and mayor of Jonesboro, Harold Perrin, was one of the 250 Most Influential. Jonesboro is now the fifth-largest city in the state. Perrin is on the National League of Cities board of directors, and the Arkansas State Police Foundation board. His city was recently recognized as one of the nation’s top economies by Area Development magazine.

The president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Randy Zook, who splits his time in Little Rock and Melbourne, was also one of the 250 recognized. Zook has spearheaded the “Be Pro Be Proud” workforce development initiative to grow technical education. He serves on several boards.

Batesville native and longtime Little Rock resident, James L. “Skip” Rutherford, was recognized. Rutherford was the first president of the Clinton Foundation. He was an advisor to Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. He was dean of the nation’s first school to offer a master’s degree in public service, and he serves on several boards around Arkansas.

Diane Dixon Zook of Melbourne was named one of the 250 Most Influential. She is in her sixth year as a member of the Arkansas State Board of Education. She was elected chair of the board in May. Zook is a former teacher, administrator, and business owner. She also serves on the Ozarka College Foundation Board.

Jennifer James of Newport, a partner in the H & J Land Co., was recognized. She was elected to the Riceland Foods board of directors in March, the first woman to hold that position. James is a fourth-generation farmer who operates a 6,000-acre soybean, rice, and corn operation. She is also on the Planters Bank board of directors.

Crystal Johnson of Batesville, CEO of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, was also recognized as one of the 250 Most Influential Leaders in the state. Johnson just completed implementing the fifth year of an area economic development and education plan. She played a pivotal role in shaping legislation which created the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship program. And she is a leader and facilitator of the IMPACT Independence County Community strategic plan.

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