The Adult Learning Alliance of Arkansas (ALA) recently named Dr. Jenny McCormack Walker as the 2023 Outstanding Literacy Council Director for Arkansas. Walker, who serves as the Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties, is the first recipient of the award and was selected among program leaders representing more than 50 counties in Arkansas. She was honored at the Arkansas Association of Continuing and Adult Education conference in Little Rock last month.
Walker, who is a Texarkana native, said she is thankful for the award and credits her success to the organization’s team of staff, interns, and volunteers.
“I have big dreams for the Literacy Council, but I am blessed with an entire team who dreams with me and works together to bring our vision to life,” Walker said. “I get to add this award to my resume, but I know our success as an organization truly belongs to the team and to our students who work so incredibly hard.”
Under her leadership, the Literacy Council has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment and funding. Her holistic, research-based approach to adult education prompted her to rethink and expand Literacy Council program options when she took the director position in 2020. This innovative strategy has paid off well for students working to reach goals in a variety of academic, workforce, language learning, and basic life skills supported by the Literacy Council. Walker shares her experience with other adult education leaders as a frequent conference presenter, serves on an ALA committee that advocates for legislative support of adult literacy, and chairs a state-wide Read-A-Thon that will launch in January to promote reading across Arkansas.
Over the course of the past three years, the Literacy Council has received local, state (in both Texas and Arkansas), and national recognition. It was named the 2023 Non-Profit Organization of the Year by the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, and it was a finalist for a Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau. The council received the Meritorious Service Award from the Texas Council on Family Relations, and adult learners at the Literacy Council have been named top students at the state level for 2021 and 2022 (for Arkansas) and in 2023 (for Texas). The organization’s outstanding internship program and partnership with Texas A&M University—Texarkana were featured in social media by ProLiteracy, a national organization that supports adult learning programs.