Cohort II

Mariama Laouali Balla

Originally from Niger, West Africa, Mariama holds a master’s degree in Health Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in health education, both from the University of Central Arkansas. She also holds a post–baccalaureate degree in Public Health from UAMS College of Public Health. Mariama has over five years of experience working at UAMS Clinical Laboratory where she collaborates with agency staff for the planning, development, and evaluation of specific projects. Mariama has also taken the opportunity to gain experience with NGOs and has been an active member of the Full Belly Project, a non-profit organization that designs and delivers simple agricultural machines to people in developing countries around the world. The experiences that Mariama has gained in her community, in college, and in her workplace have been keys in her personal and professional development.

Mariama believes the Ph.D. in Leadership program will equip her with skills and knowledge necessary to support and influence government, non-government, and national policies meant to tackle community and economic development back in her country, Niger.

Tim Bullington

Tim is a pastor, a commissioned Army officer, and a black belt in Aikido. He believes strongly in mentoring future leaders to tackle complex issues that can bring about social change in our state.  Tim received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kansas State University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as a pastor, Tim is also the chairman of the Ministerial Studies and Credentialing board for the North Arkansas Church of the Nazarene and teaches courses for Nazarene Bible College of Colorado Springs and the University of Central Arkansas in the Masters of Science in Community and Economic Development (MSCED) degree program.

Tim grew up as an Army dependent and has lived throughout the Unites States, Europe, and the Middle East. Moving every two to three years gave him an ability to be flexible and relate to people of many different backgrounds. He currently lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Kelly, and two children. Tim’s research interests include followership, social networks, social psychology of leadership and applying complexity theories to leadership in large organizations. Tim received the University of Central Arkansas Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Award in 2013-2014.

Jennifer Dodson Hunt

Jenny is the Associate Director of Campus Life & Greek Life for the Office of Campus Life at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She began her career at UALR seven years ago as a Campus Life Specialist.

Jenny earned a her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master of Education in Higher Education and Leadership from the University of Arkansas.

Currently she serves as President of the Greater Little Rock Alumnae Panhellenic and Panhellenic Delegate for the Central Arkansas Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. She has served the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors in a variety of capacities including her most recent position on the Educational Program Review Board. She is an active member of the Greater Little Rock campus of New Life Church. Jenny and her husband, Houston, live in Maumelle, Arkansas.

Jamie Earls

jearls_headshotJamie Earls is from Russellville, Arkansas, where she received both her baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Arkansas Tech University in Emergency Management. She currently resides in Russellville with her husband and son. Jamie is an Assistant Professor at Arkansas Tech University.

Jamie serves as Faculty Advisor to the International Association of Emergency Managers Student Chapter at Arkansas Tech University. She was elected to serve on the Board for the Enlisted Association of the Arkansas National Guard Auxiliary where she chairs the Ways and Means committee and also serves as the Vice President of the Family Readiness Group for Alpha Battery 1-206 FA. Currently, Jamie is a member of the Arkansas Crisis Response Team.
Her research interests include: volunteer and resource management; the use of social media in emergencies; and teaching the 21st Century Student: Student Leadership in Action class.

Harvell Howard

Harvell Howard is a 2003 graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, AR, with a degree in economics and business. Since graduating from college, he has had several job experiences, in which he has lived in both New York and Arizona.  From 2005 – 2008, Harvell served as the Director of Youth and Community Relations for the Choosing To Excel Organization, which is the largest character and healthy choice program in the state of Arkansas.

Currently, Harvell is the Coordinator for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s first African American Male Initiative and the TEAMS program, both of which are designed to increase the retention and graduation rates of minority students.  Moreover, he graduated in May of 2010 with his Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, AR.

Harvell aspires to reach and serve people. He believes that the PhD in Leadership program will afford him the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to lead at the highest level, while creating opportunities for those who are unable to create them for themselves.

Lonnie Jackson

Lonnie, originally from Mineral Springs, AR, attended Henderson State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business.  After graduating, he spent 5 years with Dillard’s Department Stores in various management positions then moved back to southwest Arkansas to work  for a sporting goods store for a couple of years prior to opening his own business.  Lonnie and his wife, Regina, have owned and operated a business in Arkadelphia, AR, since 1992 called Print Mania, Inc.  Lonnie received his MBA from Henderson State University in 1997 and in 2000, became the Center Director of the Henderson State University Small Business and Technology Development Center. Lonnie served in that role for 10 years and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Management and MBA Director in the Henderson State University School of Business.  Lonnie and Regina have two daughters, Brittany and Kelby.  Lonnie enjoys volunteering in the local community, teaching an adult couples Sunday school class and playing golf.

Lonnie has enjoyed getting to know fellow students and working together in the Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies PhD program.  The courses have provided new insights into leadership on the job and in the community.  The professors in the Leadership program are very accessible, supportive, and bring a variety of experience and expertise to the classroom.  Lonnie participated in the Conway Grad Studies Project and presented at the 2013 International Leadership Association (ILA) conference in Montreal, Canada.  He is also scheduled to present his research at the 2014 ILA conference in San Diego.

Jamie Stacks

Jamie StacksJamie returned to Arkansas after residing 11 years in Alaska where she served as Superintendent of the Pribilof School District.  While working in Alaska, she had the unique opportunity to experience collaboration among profit, non-profit, and educational organizations to enhance educational opportunities for students.  Jamie has enjoyed her experience in the PhD Leadership program at UCA as she has been able to immerse herself in the research and study of leveraging all available resources to meet the needs of a learning community.  The program has allowed her to explore in-depth various leadership styles and helped her to understand the diverse role of a leader in any organization.

Her increased understanding of the theoretical framework of leadership has impacted her practical application in her current position as Instructor in the Department of Leadership Studies at UCA.  She has been able to incorporate this understanding in the courses she has taught to prepare future educational leaders in Arkansas.

The program has also provided unique opportunities for research in personal areas of interest. Jamie was a part of two collaborative research studies involving community and education. She presented findings of these studies at the International Leadership Association Conference in the Fall of 2013 and 2014.   Both of these opportunities are examples of the interdisciplinary aspect of the program that Jamie has found to be beneficial.  She is currently conducting her dissertation research which focuses on school superintendents and their role as social justice leaders.

Jamie and her husband, Michael, who is also an educator, currently live in Damascus with their two teenage daughters.  Aside from spending time with family, Jamie enjoys reading and traveling to experience and gain a better understanding of diverse cultures.

Cody Vest

Cody Vest, originally from Ozark, AR, is currently a high school English teacher.  He moved to Conway, AR, to pursue a college degree and has remained in the area since he moved.  He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2003 with a BSE in English and that same year began teaching at Morrilton High School.  He later graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 2007 with an MSE in Instructional Improvement.  Cody currently teaches senior English at Rogers Heritage High School. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, working out, and running.

Diane Wolfe

Diane, a native of southern California, received her secondary education through Arkansas public schools and the University of Arkansas system. She earned her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in School Leadership, Management and Administration from the University of Central Arkansas. Diane has been involved in education for 29 years and has taught in a variety of educational environments in Louisiana, Colorado, and Arkansas.  She has been a junior high and high school mathematics teacher, preK-8 assistant principal and principal at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock. She recognizes the importance of leadership in education and is excited and honored to be part of the UCA PhD in Leadership program. Diane and her husband, Keith, have three children three cats and enjoy boating on the beautiful lakes of Arkansas. She is a trustee for the City Education Trust, member of the National Association of Secondary Principals, Mercy Secondary Education Association and the National Catholic Education Association.  Diane currently serves as a Research Graduate Assistant in the LEAD program while she finishes her dissertation work.

Zhi Luan

Luan is from China and just graduated from the College Student Personnel Administration program of the department of Leadership Studies at UCA. Before he came to study in the U.S., he was running his own school, an educational foundation, and a legal aid center in China. Even before that, he was college teacher at Qingdao University. He has been in education for more than 20 years. He loves education and will serve in this area all through his life.