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Black History Month 2021

Black History Month 2021
Posted on 02/09/2021
Featured Employees

Black History Month provides us a designated time to reflect on a specific part of our history in North Little Rock. In honoring our black employees in the City of North Little Rock and their accomplishments, we are highlighting at least one employee each day that is a supervisor, manager or oversees a group of employees in our city.

FEATURED EMPLOYEES:

Patrick Alan Isbell
General Park Supervisor
Department of Parks and Recreation

Patrick Alan Isbell
Q: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: January 1999 to present.
Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: I'm a dedicated employee who seeks ideas for improving our department. I'm also willing to extend a helping hand to other departments as needed.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The City of North Little Rock allows opportunities for career advancement. I'm a prime example. In 1999, I was hired as an Equipment Operator. I was later promoted to Crew Leader, and now I'm the General Park Supervisor. Additionally, the City has a strict safety policy which shows the well-being of its employees and residents is a major priority.
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: The City should consider hosting more employee events. For example, bringing back the annual employee picnic would be a good idea. It's a fun activity that can strengthen unity among the departments. It's one way of showing that although we have multiple departments, we're one entity.
Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: We can develop more programs involving collaborations with residents. A good example of this is the City Beautiful program.
Q: Any additional comments or information you want to share?
A: There's a motto I live by: "Let your work be a reflection of you." I instill that philosophy in my crew to encourage them to give 110%.

Charlotte Thomas
Administrative Assistant in the Administration Department
Office of Mayor Terry C. Hartwick

Charlotte Thomas
Q: YEARS OF SERVICE:
A: Forty-seven (47) faithful years of service
During my tenure, I have been employed with eight administrations (including Terry Hartwick serving his second administration after his re-election).
Q: HOW ARE YOU AN ASSET TO THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK?
A: I am an asset to the City of NLR:
• Through knowledge of processes.
• Being a champion in solving problems and executing effective solutions for our citizens with confidence.
• The reliability of proving service, fostering creativity and innovations while serving the citizens of our great City of North Little Rock. I “love” helping our citizens. Some citizens do not have any knowledge as to what directions to follow when trying to resolve a problem…so instead of contacting the proper department, they will contact the Mayor’s Office seeking the help of our team.
Q: WHAT MAKES THE CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK A GREAT PLACE TO WORK?
A: For 47 years I have seen a lot of innovation abroad. The innovation, integrity and people combined all make the City of North Little Rock a “great” place to work.
Q: WHAT CAN WE IMPROVE ON?
A: The core of any infrastructure is the bigger things that can’t be seen. I would say continue to actively work together, linking processes with people and listen to the hearts of our citizens to build healthy foundations.
Q: HOW CAN WE IMPROVE OUR CITY FOR THE RESIDENTS OF NLR?
A: Continue to improve our Economic Development.
Q: ANY ADDITIONAL COMMENTS OR INFORMATION YOU WANT TO SHARE?
A: I am the first African American to be employed in the office of the Mayor in the City of North Little Rock (Executive Staff) where I have served the entire duration of my 47 years. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College. Professional Affiliations: Scipio A. Jones Alumni Choir; NLR Census Committee; Pulaski County School District Study Committee; NLR City Mission; and Anointed Praise Chorale and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Charlotte represents the Mayor by speaking for him during public/local events when he is not available.
Q: RECOGNITIONS:
A: • In 1999 during celebration of Women’s History Month, the North Little Rock Times recognized me as a “Woman of Distinction for Longevity and Faithful Service”.
• In 2006 I was recognized by The Stand Newspaper as a “Leader Within The Community”
• In 2017 I was recognized by the “NAACP for Outstanding Services in North Little Rock”
Charlotte has a magnetic personality and a heart and passion to help others. She is the widow of the late Curtis L. Thomas and a very proud mother of Anita Thomas Young, Shelby Thomas and Damon Thomas, Sr. She’s also a very proud grandmother and great grandmother

Joshua S Lewis
Crew Leader
Parks and Recreation

Joshua S Lewis Q: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 5 years
Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: The reason that I'm an asset is that I have the confidence, knowledge and experience in doing my part to keep NLR safe & beautiful. It's a very fulfilling duty that I take pride in doing.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The relationships I have with my coworkers and the trust and unity of our department.
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: More education and training programs to improve safety for our employees.
Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: Better communication with our residents of NLR to solve and prevent issues.
Q: Any additional comments or information you want to share?
A: As I’ve been told for many, many years by our former Director of Parks & Recreation, now Mayor Terry Hartwick, “Always go the extra mile.” By always going the extra mile and following the words of my supervisor Patrick Isbell to be professional and always give 110%, we can improve the city of NLR.

Felicia K. Hart
Courier
Commerce Department

Felicia K. HartQ: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 39 current years of service
Q: How are you an asset to the City?
A: I’m an asset to the city of NLR because I’m hardworking, dependable, and flexible. Also, I try to maintain a positive spirit.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: I enjoy my daily interactions with other NLR employees throughout the city.
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: Mayor Joe Smith did a great job of encouraging businesses to call NLR home. I would like to see this continue under our new Mayor, Terry Hartwick.
Q: What can we improve on in the City?
A: Creating more economic opportunity zones throughout the city would help all citizens of NLR thrive, particularly our citizens in more disadvantaged areas.

Shannan L. Hicks
Library Services Director
William F. Laman Public Library

Shannan L. HicksQ: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: One year
Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: I bring lots of enthusiasm and experience to Laman Library. I love our patrons and our ability to tailor our services in light of the pandemic.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The City of NLR is a great place to work because employees are valued and heard.
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: Nothing!
Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: At Laman Library, we seek to continue to serve the whole community by being an information hub and a place for collaboration.
Q: Any additional comments or information you want to share?
A: I’m so excited to be part of such a dynamic community and workplace.

Glenda Parker
Director of North Heights Community Center
NLR Parks & Recreation

Glenda ParkerQ: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 26 years
Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: I consider myself to be a very dependable employee who performs my job duties and responsibilities in a professional manner.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The love, pride and support the residents of NLR have for its city!
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: We can always treat each other with respect, dignity and appreciate each other's diversity.
Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: By being transparent. Transparency affords us the opportunity to build trust in our city leaders and ultimately better our communities.
Q: Any additional comments or information you want to share?
A: Mother of two
Breast Cancer Survivor (1 year)
Dallas Cowboys fan

Ashley Brown
Passport Facility Office Manager
William F. Laman Public Library, Adult Services

Ashley BrownQ: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 10 years
Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?

A: Everyone that works at the City of NLR is an asset. However, I am an asset for my abilities and knowledge to help families and individuals with their passport needs. I have a book club to help meet the literary and social needs of the community. Also, I am able to help out in other departments within the library to serve the needs of our community.
Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: I love what I do! I get to help and serve others.
Q: What can we improve on internally in our City? The city could improve on offering more diversity training.
Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: Provide/create more job and business opportunities within the city. Improve and build-up areas that are considered poor/lower income.

Officer Deshundria Johnson
North Little Rock Police Department

Deshundria Johnson AY Magazine has interviewed several of North Little Rock's newest officers to get an inside look at why they chose to start a law enforcement career and the NLRPD. This week, AY Magazine highlighted NLRPD Officer Deshundria Johnson.

Patrol Officer Deshundria Johnson was born and raised in Leland, Mississippi. After graduating high school in 2014, she moved to Louisiana, where she was a military wife. After her divorce, she started working in corrections in 2017. As she became more involved in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Johnson moved to Little Rock to work in Pulaski County, the Tucker Unit, and here in the capital city again. She has a five-year old daughter, Amelia, and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“It was just interesting to me to see the different positions in the prison, just spending time with the inmates and trying to rehabilitate them. That was my thing. I just wanted to be a part of that,” Johnson says.

As Johnson built experience in many different fields of corrections, she gained more interpersonal communication skills. She says her skills learned working in the correctional system were pivotal to her future career.

“I’d always put in an application, but I’d never gone through with it, in a police department. Everybody in the jail kept encouraging me, and I finally put in for the police department in North Little Rock.”

Johnson talks about some of the challenges faced this past year, with national racial unrest in a pandemic.
“Everybody thinks that police officers are violent. I’ve had to talk people down. Not every officer is the same– it’s all about communication,” Johnson says. “Most of the time, it’s about just trying to reach people, trying to talk to people. I’m a black female. Me being black can be difficult, if I’m in an area where there aren’t a lot of black people. That also means that I get heat from all sides. You’re trying to relate to people that this has happened, yes, but it hasn’t happened to you. Additionally, we see a lot of disturbances and fights within the family, because everyone is in the house with nowhere to go. Tempers flare quickly.”

Read AY Magazine's complete article here.

Dr. Arnessa Bennett
Director of Special Projects, Mayor’s Office

Arnessa Bennett Dr. Arnessa Bennett is a PhD, licensed minister, global life coach and talk show host who went from motivating Arkansans to speaking at a mastermind conference in Dubai and other international venues. Dr. Bennett is an expert in human behavior evidenced by her education. She has an associate degree in theology, a bachelor degree in religious arts, a master of divinity, a PhD in religious philosophy and she is a certified Dementia Practitioner. She accepted an appointment from Mayor Terry Hartwick in January 2021 in her role as Director of Special Projects for the City of North Little Rock. Dr. Arnessa Bennett is married to Elder Larry Bennett, they together they have 5 adult children. They live in Lakewood and attend Full Counsel Church in North Little Rock.

Dr. Bennett is the first African American woman to be appointed to this position in the history of the City of North Little Rock government established in 1906. Past state Governor Appointments are, the Arkansas State Workforce Investment Board as a state board member and served on the strategic planning committee, as well as, Arkansas State Arts and Humanities Advisory Council as a state board member. Dr. Bennett will serve as a constituent liaison for Mayor Hartwick and the city. She will conduct research on special projects, work with city departments and staff to respond to requests from Mayor Hartwick and the City Council, perform managerial or administrative duties, and perform city representation and project management.

Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: “The great people… we work hard and we play hard! There is a bond like a big family. We are not afraid to show love and compassion for our coworkers.”

Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: “Have open communication with each other. Treat each other like you want to be treated. We can promote a solution to help with concerns from the City of North Little Rock and continue to make our city one of the best cities in Arkansas to live in.

Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: “Listen to residents’ concerns and needs for better communities. Keep an updated vision for the continued progress of the city of North Little Rock.”

Dr. Bennett has served on the following boards and committees:

  • Salvation Army Central Arkansas, Women's Auxiliary President
  • North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce – Board Member
  • Junior League of North Little Rock- Member
  • Dress for Success Little Rock, Arkansas Inc. - Board Member
  • Business Professional Women of Little Rock – Member
  • Teen Promise Scholarship Competition, Inc. – Advisory Board Member
  • Arkansas Black Hall of Fame – Founding Board Member
  • American Society of Training Development – Arkansas Region Member
  • Arkansas Scholars – Volunteer
  • Little Rock Job Corp Community Relations Advisory Council – President

 

Amy Smith
Assistant Director for Procurement & Commerce Department

Amy Smith Q: Years of service in the City of NLR Full Time:
A: 20 Years

Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR:
A: I consider myself to be a pretty helpful and skillful person. I made it a point to know my job and perform the functions of this position well.

Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The City’s employees are the best! My co-workers make work enjoyable!

Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: Getting important information to all employees.

Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: Being Honest with and listening to our constituents.

Q: Any additional comments or information you want to share?
A: I’m a PTA, Girl Scout Co-Leader, PAL volunteering, crafty Mom to 3 wonderful kiddos and I love it here in North Little Rock!

Amanda Bonner
Comptroller, Finance Department

Amanda Bonner Q: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 20 years

Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: Years of service brings experience and experience brings knowledge, but being open to change and willing to learn more makes me an asset.

Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: The City employees! I can always reach out to my Finance co-workers or other employees in different departments, and the request for information or assistance is fulfilled without complaint. I’m sure I receive that type of response because I make the effort to respond the same way to their request.

Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: One of the things we have already discussed in Finance is possibly doing a quarterly training session with other City departments that enter data that is reconciled by Finance.

Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: By listening to the serious concerns of the NLR residents, and taking steps to actually bring about change in areas that the City has the authority to do so without delay.

"I am especially excited because our own Amanda Bonner, is in the spotlight. While I think this is a great article, there are many things that were not said. I wanted to take a quick minute to share this with you all and give Amanda all the credit she deserves. Amanda, is a very dependable, reliable, dedicated, hard-worker. I know she is going to be here every day giving her job 110%. Amanda is absolutely correct when she says “Years of service brings experience and experience brings knowledge, but being open to change and willing to learn more makes me an asset”. Amanda sees the bigger picture and longer term impact. The City is lucky to have Amanda as an employee and I am grateful she is part of the Finance team." - Ember Strange, Director of Finance, City of NLR.

Sergeant Chauncey Sims
Sergeant/ SRO Supervisor NLR Police Department

Chauncey Sims Q: Years of service in the City of NLR?
A: 12 ½ years

Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR?
A: I believe that all the officers here at the North Little Rock Police Department are great assets to the community. I think what makes me a great asset to the city of North Little Rock is my willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for my community and department. I am a firm believer that we are born to serve humanity in various capacities. I enjoy every day that I can put the uniform on and serve the community, especially in my current role as the Supervisor for the SRO program. This position allows me to interact with the future leaders of our community. I also believe everyone no matter what position you are in, is to treat everyone like they should be treated.

Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work?
A: What makes NLR a great place to work for me is I see NLR trying to become involved with current times such as technological advancements and cultural differences.

Q: What can we improve on internally in our City?
A: I believe in order for the city to be successful, the city needs to seek more citizen input and involve more citizens. Offering more cultural diversity training within all departments in our city will improve our city both internally and externally.

Q: How can we improve our City for the residents of NLR?
A: By conducting town hall meetings with the police department and other city departments as needed. Also, by continuing to advance in ways to conduct business. With times changing, we have to learn to develop ways to change as well.

Bryan Hill, Captain
EMT/HMT Hazmat Officer in the NLR Fire Department

Bryan Hill Captain Hill is a Veteran of the United States Navy and loves the outdoors. He and his beautiful wife, LaSandra Hill, have two daughters and all attend New Hope Baptist Church in North Little Rock.

Q: Years of service in the City of NLR? 
A: 20 years with the NLR Fire Department & Two months Mayor’s Summer Youth Program

Q: How are you an asset to the City of NLR? 
A: The City trains me to help and show compassion to people, sometimes at their lowest point. 

Q: What makes the City of NLR a great place to work? 
A: The small town feel and the friendships that are made. The Administration genuinely care about the employees well-being. 

Q: What can we improve on internally in our City? 
A: Give people a chance to prove themselves. Encourage that one person to get out of their comfort zone. 

Q: How can we improve our City for the residents on NLR? 
A: Continue to show more transparency on funding and infrastructure in all areas/Wards in the City.

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