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Women of Distinction Honored by Girl Scouts

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Chancellor, Dr. Jo Alice Blondin was among four women who serve as positive role models for women and contribute significantly to their community that were honored Thursday evening at the Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas 2011 Women of Distinction Awards Dinner held at the headquarters of Golden Living.This year's recipients are: Kathy Babb, Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, Judy McReynolds and Charolette Tidwell.

The theme this year, "Bloom Where You Are Planted," was inspired by Juliette Gordon Low's poem "A Tree for the Future." Low founded the American Girl Guide troops in 1912. The following year it was renamed Girl Scouts.

Entertainment was provided by the Fort Smith Public Schools Party Players. The string quintet is comprised of orchestra members from Northside and Southside High Schools.

In addition to the large diamond-shaped glass awards presented to the honorees, a real diamond donated by Newton's Jewelers was awarded by random drawing at the conclusion of the banquet. Seed packets, each containing a colored dot were presented to attendees. Colors were eliminated until three finalists held red dot packs. They were then instructed to pick a colored gardening tool from a wheelbarrow and a card was drawn to reveal the winner. Bob Cooper picked the green trowel and won the Ideal Cut diamond.

Award Winners
• Kathy Babb relocated to Fort Smith after growing up in North Dakota. She has contributed to local education and the arts community. At a young age, she was taught the lessons of independence and hard work from her mother and she continues to embrace those qualities and pass them on to the younger generation.

• Dr. Jo Alice Blondin is chancellor of Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus. She has received numerous awards in the education field and is a strong advocated for students. The Franklin County Single Parent Scholarship Fund has prospered under her leadership and increased its disbursement of scholarships year after year.

• Judy McReynolds is president and CEO of Arkansas Best Corporation. She is the first female CEO of a publicly traded Arkansas corporation. McReynolds leads by example and builds trust by trusting her colleague's abilities to achieve their goals.

• Charolette Tidwell worked as head nurse and director of nursing for Sparks Hospital for 25 years. Tidwell secured funding for the first daycare for single teenage mothers in Arkansas. She cared for their children while they attended classes at Westark College. Tidwell was a director in the corporate offices at Beverly Enterprises. Tidwell, who is black, has made a positive impact in the hiring practices of Fort Smith businesses.

Photograph provided by Marian Conrad, Vice-President of Communications and Strategic Alliances, Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

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