Officers of the Jefferson Reading Council attended the Arkansas Reading Association’s Council Leadership Institute July 21-22 at Harding University in Searcy.

Participants included Roxanne Harper, president; Elizabeth Wall, vice president; Shelley Peyton, secretary; Susan Bitely, treasurer; Margie Nanak, director of membership; and Dorothy Pollett, ARA immediate past president.

Approximately 75 local reading council leaders from across Arkansas attended the workshop. Sessions focused on program promotion, leadership skill training, networking and local literacy projects.

A Celebrate Literacy Luncheon was held July 21 where ARA award and grant winners were honored. Jefferson County award winners were Alicia Baldwin, Community Literacy Leader; and First Methodist Church of Pine Bluff, Agency Literacy. Roxanne Harper received the county president’s Diamond Award.

Arkansas author and former University of Arkansas women’s basketball player, Celia Anderson, and her daughter, Gabrielle Simone, presented their latest books July 21.

The event was organized by ARA President Kaila Murphy of Arkadelphia and Jeanne Trawick of Conway, who serves as the international literacy association state coordinator.

The ARA sponsors a professional development conference every fall. This year’s conference, “Rooted in Literacy,” will be held Nov. 16-17, 2017 in Little Rock.

Anyone interested in attending the state literacy conference or in joining a local council should contact ARA Director of Membership, Krista Underwood at or visit