Saturday was a very, very busy day. It started at noon with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Crowning Achievers luncheon. The Crowning Achievers luncheon this year honored non-traditional entrepreneurs as a part of our Sorority’s Ninth Annual Women’s Day Event. It was held at the Embassy Suites in Rogers and I hosted a table. I was happy that my mother Fern Nance, Carol Gattis, Tené Green, Carla Martin, Kendra Buford, Teri Stafford and Nancy Cozart could join.

The 2008 Crowning Achievers were Rhonda Bell-Holmes, author and motivational speaker; Helena L. Gadison, founder and CEO of EMW Enterprises, Inc. East Meets West Spa & Salon; Faulene D. Rogers, the owner of Williams Funeral Home; Stephanie Spivey of the Kuk Sool Won Martial Arts School, Dana Washburn, owner of Signed Sealed & Delivered; and Geri Williams, CEO of Indulge, Inc. & Catering Vision Consulting. Leslee Wright, the news anchor for 40/29, was the mistress of ceremonies for the lunch, and Cora J. Davis was the chair of the Women’s Day Committee.

The menu was garden salad with raspberry vinaigrette & ranch dressing; herb grilled chicken breast with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and beurre blanc; garlic mashed potatoes; harvest grilled vegetables with grilled roma tomatoes; served with dinner rolls, water, coffee and tea. Dessert was chocolate genache and New York cheesecake with strawberry topping. It was all very delicious.

The keynote speaker was Betty J. Marshall, regional general manager of Sam’s Club and vice-president of Region B. She was dynamic! She talked a lot about how the reason we don’t accomplish all we set out to is because we set our own limitations. She mentioned how some people can drag you down and gave an analogy that really stuck with me. She said, “You know, when you see an eagle soar, it soars alone. But, if there are crows around and the crows pick at the eagle, the eagle doesn’t fight the crows, it just soars above them.” That was a really good analogy for remembering to focus on the things that are most important and not to get bogged down. Dream big, think big and move forward! Ms. Marshall was a wonderful speaker.

What fun! It ran a little bit long, but the fellowship was great, one of the best things about the Crowning Achievers luncheon is that all the ladies who attend are encouraged to wear their church hats and that’s a lovely sight. You can’t imagine what a wonderful feeling it was to be in the midst of a group of women all dressed with their church hats on, fellowshipping and dining with the purpose of recognizing and acknowledging the achievements of the award recipients. It was a great event.

Saturday evening was just as busy. There were three different events to attend. The first was “A Black and White Gala,” an end-of-the-year celebration of the Black Law Students Association at the Alumni House. It was a lovely program and dinner. Unfortunately I had to leave early, but we were much honored that Dr. Johnetta Cross-Brazzell, vice-chancellor for Student Affairs of the University of Arkansas, was the keynote speaker for that event. I made my apologies to Asia Diggs, president of BLSA, to the BLSA members and to Vice-Chancellor Brazzell for my early exit. I had tickets to the Hearts on Fire Heart Gala benefit for the American Heart Association being held in Rogers that same evening.

I left the BLSA event and headed to Rogers for the Hearts on Fire Heart Gala that Coleman and Peaches Peterson had invited me to. It was very beautiful. As you came in, there were folks serving champagne, and a huge silent auction. Carol Gattis, director of Recuritment, Retention, Honors, and Diversity, dean in the College of Engineering and my cruise buddy attended with me. She is also one of the three of us who will be “Fabulous at 50” on our Mediterranean cruise, the other being Marjorie LaRue, the CFO of LSAC. She and I bid on a silent auction item which was a party with a DJ and we won. We decided that we will use that as the basis of a “Fabulous at 50” birthday party. After the silent auction closed, dinner was served.

The menu was baby spinach leaves with blue cheese crumbles and cranberries with Italian vinaigrette and black pepper ranch dressing; grilled tenderloin of beef with a rosemary reduction and shrimp brochette, rosemary mashed potatoes, and roasted spring vegetables; and for dessert bourbon pecan pie and chocolate ganache cheesecake.

After dinner music was provided by the Memphis Soul Revue but before that a number of awards were given out. Don Blakeman received the “Gregg Ogden Citizen of the Year Award,” Lisa Ray was the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year Award,” Mitzi Traxson received the “Katherine Chambers Counce Women’s Legacy Award” and the “Corporate Excellence Award” was presented to Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. Mark Bethell, CCO at NW Health Bentonville gave the welcome followed by an awards presentation, sponsor recognition, live auction & special appeals, sweetheart presentation and dancing. The evening emcees were Jake McBride of Clear Channel Radio Group and Matt Turner from KNWA Northwest Arkansas News.

I saw a number of our grads there including Jim Crouch and his wife Catherine, Marcus and Debbie Van Pelt, Judge and Janet Hendren, and Tim Brooks. I also saw Tom Mars and his daughter Alex Yelenich. Jim Smith from Friday, Eldredge & Clark, who comes in and teaches a mergers and acquisitions course for us, sat at the next table. I spoke with him and thanked him for teaching for us. Sitting with Jim Smith was Matthew Dearnley of Flake and Kelley and his wife Jessica Dearnley. We are members of the same book club (that I never get to anymore with all the travel and evening activities). It was great to see them again and they confessed that they haven’t been getting to book club very regularly either.

It was soon time to announce the winners of the auction. The auctioneer was Michael Kaufman. There were several live auction items, the most exciting of which was a Mercedes-Benz C Class which someone bought, but I don’t know who it was. Some of the other live auction items were a Blackman’s Fine Jewelry Shopping Spree, an Autographed Hannah Montana Guitar, an Around the World Travel Get Away, a hunting trip package in Lincoln, Kansas, and an East Meets West Spa & Salon Spa Connoisseurs Retreat for Two. After the program was over, there was lots of dancing. It was really fun. The dance floor was packed which was kind of surprising. Carol and I had a great time.

From there we headed to the Barrister’s Ball which was held at UARK Bowl. The students tried to teach me a new dance that has something to do with moving or sliding to the side and then flying like Superman. Anyway, I tried to pick it up. I know I wasn’t very good, but it was fun to be there and be with them. Professor Gattis was really surprised at how fun our event was and she noted that it was very different from the student events held by engineering students. That may just be because our students are older, but as you know there’s a reputation out there that lawyers really know how to have a good time. We work hard and we play hard and, as long as those things are in balance, that’s fine. The ball ended at midnight and we left for home. What a day!