Women & Children First Honors Susan Hickingbotham
By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Nancy Nolan | Styled by Lila Ashmore | Makeup by Florence Castel with Chanel – Neiman Marcus | Dress from B. Barnett | Shot on location at The Montage Resort – Laguna Beach, CA
Woman & Children First breaks the cycle of domestic violence – providing crisis intervention, safe shelter, social and legal advocacy that are critical resources for families. Each year, the state’s largest domestic violence shelter garners support for this comprehensive portfolio of services through the annual Woman of the Year Gala. The evening honors an exceptional civic leader for her commitment to the welfare of all Arkansans and her unwavering support of the organization. This year, Susan Hickingbotham will be celebrated for her dedication to WCF and its clients, victims of family violence.
A native of Texas, Susan moved to Arkansas as a child and considers the Capital City home. “Our friends and family are here, and our church,” Susan notes. “Through all of our vacations and adventures, Little Rock remains a touchstone.” With a heart as big as Texas, Susan and her husband Herren are renowned for their generosity and willingness to support countless organizations including American Heart Association, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. It’s her evident devotion to improving the lives of women and children that has earned her recognition as this year’s Woman of the Year. Women & Children First Advisory Board Founder Cindy Murphy recalls, “I introduced Susan and Herren to Women & Children First through several fundraisers I developed for the shelter. Susan is a tremendous asset to every task she tackles and continues to support our efforts.”
Susan believes strongly in the shelter’s mission to create a “safe haven” for victims of family violence. “If a woman is running for her life, it is a place of quiet and a place of peace where there is no violence,” Susan explains. “Women & Children First provides protection while these women create new lives for themselves and their families. Qualified staff provides everything – emotional counseling, clothing, food, free legal services, childcare, transitional housing and more. These needs must be met to ensure they remain safe and hopeful.”
Proceeds from the gala comprise a significant portion of organization’s annual budget – generating not only necessary revenue but also community awareness. This full-service shelter answered more than 7,300 calls to the 24-hour crisis hotline and provided emergency shelter to more than 600 adults + children – including boys – just last year. Susan promises an unforgettable evening of entertainment. “Guests will be treated to a private concert by our dear friend Chuck Leavell – who has played with The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton and many others.” Chairmen Natalie Rockefeller and Rachel Harding add that the purpose + mission of WCF is never far from the spotlight. “We celebrate the accomplishments of the organization and our patrons, but we are always thoughtful of the reason we’re there,” explains Natalie. “The survivor story is a testimonial shared by someone affected by domestic violence and it’s by far the most powerful moment of the evening. It’s these kind of success stories that keep us working hard to empower women and their children to live free from domestic violence.”
Dress from Barbara Jean | Jacket from Vesta’s