Leadership Texarkana Honors Local Citizens with Awards for Exemplary Community Leadership at the 15h Annual Lunch with Leaders


Leadership Texarkana celebrated local excellence in community leadership at their 15th annual Lunch with Leaders at Texarkana Texas Convention Center, with the awarding of the organization’s Leader Of The Year Award, as well as honoring community leaders through Leadership Texarkana’s annual Wilbur Awards. The luncheon was sponsored by Texarkana Emergency Center and Hospital

Leadership Texarkana Executive Director Ruth Ellen Whitt spoke to the motivation of the organization’s annual awards program, quoting Albert Schweitzer who said “Example is not the main thing, it is the only thing.” As an organization committed to growing a community of leaders who help lead the way for community excellence, Leadership Texarkana lifts up exemplary leaders in our community as models for us all, showing what is possible if we choose to serve one another by investing time and effort in our community.”

The Leader Of The Year Award is the highest award given by Leadership Texarkana annually to honor outstanding alumni of the Leadership Texarkana program; it is given in memory of Idalee Raffaelli Hawkins, who set a lasting and inspirational example for her willingness to serve our community.

Robin Hickerson

This year’s highest Leader of the Year honor was presented to Robin Hickerson, a 2012 graduate of Leadership Texarkana, for her decades of community service through which she has played integral roles in shaping our community’s fortunes, for today and for our future!

Texarkana is filled with many dedicated citizens who volunteer their time, while Robin goes above and beyond that by taking leadership roles in the many organizations in which she has served. Fellow citizens describe Robin as exceptionally loyal, passionate, and professional in all that she does–an excellent communicator who works with others to get to the root of issues and find real solutions.

Dr. Hickerson has had an esteemed career educating with over three decades of experience – as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent, serving in both the Texarkana Texas Independent School District and Texarkana Arkansas School District, with countless lives having been improved through our honoree’s investment in them. Robin has received the Texas A&M University-Texarkana Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of her work.

Over the years, Robin Hickerson has held multiple leadership positions, including:

  • Executive Committee for the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce Economic Development
  • President of the Wilbur Smith Rotary Club
  • Leadership Texarkana board member
  • Chair (with husband David) of the United Way Campaign
  • Founding board member of the Farmers Bank & Trust Live United Bowl
  • Pitch It Texarkana Committee member
  • Member of the administrative board of First United Methodist Church, Texarkana, AR

Robin is currently continuing the educational journey as the Director of Institutional Advancement at University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, as well as serving Chairman of the Texarkana Airport Authority Board.

Leadership Texarkana’s Wilbur Awards have been given annually since 1992, in memory of community servant and historian Wilbur Smith. Celebrating the power of one to positively impact our community, the Wilbur Awards are given in three categories, honoring adults, youth, and organizations to individuals and groups who demonstrate exemplary leadership in the community and a commitment to working together for community excellence.

Wilbur Award for Organization – We Are Washington
Wilbur Award for Adult – Dr. Lisa Myers
Wilbur Youth Award – Ayden Howard

We Are Washington
We are Washington is a comprehensive community outreach center focused on enhancing the quality of life of both children and adults. The center offers a variety of well-attended programs relating to Recreation – basketball / ping pong/movies, Life Skills – sewing/cooking and Partnerships GED prep offer/entrepreneurial mentorship … .and so much more.

Dr. Lisa Myers
Lisa’s exceptional leadership has made a significant impact throughout her journey as a dedicated lifelong learner. Currently spearhearing TAMUT’s new school of Professional Education and Community Engagement, Lisa’s work will undoubtedly continue to bring about transformative change within our community.

Ayden Howard
Ayden has established himself as an exceptional leader on the AR HIGH campus and in the broader community. Ayden shines as a member of The Scholars, a Texarkana organization dedicated to nurturing students’ academic and entrepreneurial skills. Impressively, at the age of 11, Ayden successfully organized the Juneteenth parade, establishing a significant event for Texarkana area celebrations.

In addition: Community Game Changer Award was presented to Texas A&M University-Texarkana, and an Award for Leadership with Enduring Impact was presented to Rob Sitterley, CEO/Pres of AR-TX REDI

Our Community Game Changer award is for an organization that is really changing the game in Texarkana. With more than a half century of forward-thinking goals they have offered a lifeline to higher education in our area through educational degrees, career building workforce training, and too much community support to list – our Community Game Changer 2024 is presented to TAMUT.

Leadership with Enduring Impact Award was presented to Rob Sitterley for positively impacting our community in a way that will endure for decades. Rob serves as president of AR-TX Redi and has been instrumental in promoting the exchange of ideas and finding effective solutions that greatly benefit our entire area. Through successful collaborations and with deft expertise he has been dedicated to fostering our collective economic future. Through remarkable efforts, he has spearheaded the establishment of a significant development zone capable of accommodating a major manufacturing company, and his unwavering support in expanding capacity has been invaluable to the future of the airport. Undoubtedly, his actions will have enduring positive effects on our community. Our 2024 Enduring Impact award is presented to Rob Sitterley.

Continuing the Wilbur tradition set from the beginning of the awards thirty-two years prior, Leadership Texarkana honored and celebrated all of the individuals and organizations which were nominated as they are all exemplary models of community leadership that are worth following. See below for details.

The additional 2024 Wilbur Organizational honorees for community leadership were:

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc
Kappa Xi Omega Chapter, Texarkana, TX,
This organization has been making changes in our community through its Youth Leadership Institute and Childhood Hunger Initiatives. Alpha Kappa Alpha’s has taken a ‘learn-by-doing approach’: promoting youth-led meetings and shared responsibilities, really demonstrating what leadership looks like to the next generation.

For All Brand Kind (FAB)
More than marketing, For All Brand kind is a company with values. Dani Hamblett and Traci Pitman – the masterminds behind this company – Both women are immensely creative and interested in transforming what business looks like in Texarkana. We think their co-working space is just what we need to get moving in the right direction.

Mission Texarkana
Mission Texarkana has a bold mission. They have instituted multiple programs to help train individuals with life-altering transformations through – most recently – their Humble Troll Coffee program and Certified Nursing programs both creating viable pathways out of homelessness.

Silvermoon Children’s Theatre
From the heart of a family deeply rooted in Texarkana, Silvermoon Children’s Theatre (SCT) has effectively bridged the gap in student theatre opportunities within our region. The true triumph of the theatre lies in its unwavering dedication to providing exceptional experiences for the budding performers of Texarkana.

The additional 2024 Wilbur Adult honorees for community leadership were:

Felicia Black
Felicia has exhibited exceptional leadership at the Mt. Grove Baptist Church for more than two decades. By taking every child under her protective wing – her unwavering devotion and humble nature make her the epitome of servanthood and her impact on our community cannot be overstated.

Christina Guzman
Christina has been a driving force for digital innovation in her industry and plays a vital role on the GoTXK team. She understands the importance of sharing the realities and assets of our community in the most favorable light.

Shaketha Richardson
Shaketha possesses a multitude of leadership skills and is widely recognized within our community. She exemplifies excellence in guiding others on the proper management and operations for personal and professional events.

John L. Tidwell
Whether it’s his service to the people of Bowie County from behind the bench, as a church deacon or, on the school board, John’s lifelong impact boils down to commitments made when he first took office: To treat every individual with utmost dignity and respect. John’s impact on the community is most apparent in his unwavering dedication to ensuring that everyone has their fair day in court.

The additional 2024 Wilbur YOUTH Honorees for community leadership were:

Nealy Kate Anderson
Nealy’s unwavering commitment to excellence is evident in her many achievements – she holds numerous positions AT TEXAS HI – MANY earned through the votes of her peers. Nealy exhibits an unmatched level of dedication, consistently going above and beyond to ensure the success of every endeavor.

Jackson Davis
Jackson is a highly accomplished senior at Arkansas High, consistently dedicated to serving both AHS and the Texarkana community. His outstanding character and exemplary conduct make him an exceptional role model for fellow students as a campus mentor.

Lauren Hornsby
Exceptional academic achievements place Lauren at the pinnacle of her graduating class AT PLEASANT GROVE. Constantly striving for excellence in all she does, actively encouraging others to participate she can transform the entire atmosphere of her community. An outstanding role model in all endeavors.

William Huckabee
William is an outstanding young man with a remarkable dedication to serving others. As a prominent figure on the REDWATER campus, he successfully established a weekly Bible study and by actively engaging with the Running WJ Ranch through his voluntary work, he has also developed a genuine concern for those who have limitations.

Arnija White
Ms. White has showcased strong leadership skills throughout her time at Liberty Eylau High School. She is inspirational and positive on and off campus with her peers. She is a strong leader and exceptional student who navigates difficult situations with ease.

Leadership Texarkana is committed to fostering community excellence by providing a leadership voice of possibility and responsibility, and by developing citizens who are willing and able to make a difference of significance as community leaders. It is committed to engaging and equipping citizens throughout our community as leaders working together for community excellence, pride and progress. For more about Leadership Texarkana, visit leadershiptexarkana.com.

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