Sandy Edwards, for many years one of the guiding lights at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, will be inducted Aug. 24 into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The 2023 selections honor seven women and one organization "who have made significant contributions to the state and their respective fields and stand as positive examples for women everywhere."
The first thing Edwards does -- right after saying she is "deeply moved by this quite meaningful recognition" -- is give credit to other women.
"I am a product of a generation of steadfast women -- beginning with my mother Ruth Keiser -- who gave tirelessly for the betterment of community and believed especially in the potential of girls," she says. "I was guided and encouraged at every turn by practical examples of being useful -- how to recognize a need and address it.
"These unsung spirits are responsible for my confidence, depth of caring, and joy. Their fingerprints are all over this commendation! I believe they would be especially pleased that it is recognition of my involvement in education and the arts and the first to remind me of the valued colleagues, friends, family and neighbors essential in this progress we've made together."
Edwards retired from Crystal Bridges in January.
"Fifteen years ago, when I joined the newly founded organization that would become Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I was drawn to its mission and the impact it could have on our community," she said then. "From being part of an evolving and growing organization focused on building facilities, a collection, and a team to becoming a dynamic, established, and well-respected force within the museum field and art world, it has proven to be a remarkable and richly rewarding experience."
Edwards, according to the Hall of Fame selection, "was instrumental in the establishment of endowments for the museum's operations, acquisitions, and capital improvements, as well as funding that provides free admission to all and underwrites the costs of school visits for K-12 students."
Also selected for inclusion from Northwest Arkansas was the University of Arkansas Women's Giving Circle, founded in 2002, a group of alumnae and friends "who recognize that women have the power to make a tremendous impact as philanthropic leaders. This impact grows exponentially as WGC members combine their annual gifts to create a substantial pool of resources used to fund innovative grant projects from university faculty and staff."
The nonprofit Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame began as a partnership between the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Business Publishing Group. The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce currently manages the event. "The goal of the hall is to honor, in perpetuity, women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Arkansas in their community or the state," according to the announcement.
Tickets to the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame induction ceremony can be purchased at ARWomensHallofFame.com.
Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame
Class of 2023
Sandy Edwards -- She played a vital role in the conception, planning, building, and opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and she and her late husband also served as the management team for University of Arkansas's development program (1998-2007) directing the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century meeting its $1 billion goal.
Cathy Hastings Owen -- The only female to chair the Arkansas Bankers Association. female ever to lead the Arkansas Bankers Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the American Bankers Association, the largest financial trade association in the United States.
Pat Steele Qualls – A music teacher and arts advocate, she founded an innovative music performance program for musicians with disabilities. She also served as an Arkansas Public Service commissioner for 14 years and was the first woman elected official in Craighead County as Lake City Mayor.
Nan Snow -- A champion for the cause of women's equality, she has served as president of the Arkansas chapter of the American Society for Public Administration and a member of the Arkansas Governor's Commission on the Status of Women. She co-authored "Roberta: A Most Remarkable Fulbright," and has served on many boards, including as the inaugural chair of the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame and president of the Arkansas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The Honorable Joyce Williams Warren – A public servant, she was most often credited with her dedicated and tireless work as a juvenile judge who formed, joined, and led collaborative efforts – both on and off the bench – to improve the lives of Arkansas' children and families. She was the first Black female judge in the Pulaski County system and the first in Arkansas.
Dorothy McFadden Hoover (1918-2000) -- A pioneer in the field of aeronautical mathematics and research, she overcame significant obstacles facing African American women in the 20th century to earn advanced degrees in physics and mathematics. On of her greatest achievements in aeronautical research was her contribution to the development of the "thin sweptback tapered wing," which revolutionized flight and became the aviation industry standard.
Adolphine Fletcher Terry (1882-1976) -- A civic-minded woman from a prominent Little Rock family, she used her position to improve schools and libraries, start a juvenile court system, proved affordable housing, promote the education of women and women's rights, and challenge the racism of the Old South. She pushed for social change in the early years of the civil rights movement and may best be known as the leader of the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC).
Women's Giving Circle -- Founded in 2002, the University of Arkansas Women's Giving Circle (WGC) is a group of alumnae and friends who recognize that women have the power to make a tremendous impact as philanthropic leaders.