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Alex Foundation’s Award Recipients Make Good On Promise

On The Up & Up: Alex Foundation’s Award Recipients Make Good On Promise

Depending on where you are traveling to in the rural Arkansas Delta, and where you are traveling from in Central Arkansas, the commute may average two hours or more one way. However, going the distance, hasn’t stopped any of Alex Foundation’s award recipients from making good on their promise. Four individuals and two organizations who consistently volunteer and donate to Alex Foundation will receive the nonprofit organization’s Heart & Treasure Award this fall. The awards will be presented October 1, 2023 during a benefit to support Alex Foundation at the Center for Humanities and Arts (CHARTS), 3000 W. Scenic Drive in North Little Rock, 4 pm to 7 pm.

Heart and Treasure awards will be given in three categories.  Doug Hutchins and Janis F. Kearney will be awarded in the category of individuals at an organization or business. Brad Chilcote and Russell Rudzinski will be awarded in the category of architects. Heifer International and Garver will be awarded in the category of an organization or business.


Doug Hutchins is the branch manager for Blue Bell Creameries in North Little Rock. In this capacity, he provides peak performance and direction in operations, management, marketing, sales, strategic alliance and community relations. Under his leadership, the frozen food retailer consistently captures the highest market share leading the Blue Bell brand to annual sales and revenue growth. A native of Texas, Doug graduated from Southwestern University with a degree in business administration.  He has worked for Blue Bell Creameries since graduating from college in 1982. Hutchins is actively involved in his church, Highland Valley United Methodist Church, and in community volunteer projects.

How do you feel about being a recipient of this year’s Alex Foundation’s Heart and Treasure Award?

I feel honored to be recognized as one of this year’s recipients. As a company, we do participate in community events and give back to the community because we feel it is the right thing to do. Even though we don’t donate in order to receive recognition, I do want to say thank you and to show my appreciation.

Why do you support Alex Foundation?

Here at Blue Bell we feel that one of the most important jobs anyone could have is in the education of our youth. Our company emphasizes education and holds those responsible in teaching in high regard.

What would you want others to know about the importance of giving back, making a difference and philanthropy?

Volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. By giving back, you can make a lasting impact with the people around you. Another benefit of giving back is it just feels good. It is very rewarding to see the students’ reaction when we share ice cream with them.


Janis F. Kearney, who hails from Gould in Lincoln County is president & founder of the Celebrate! Maya Project, founded in July 2014, after the death of Dr. Maya Angelou. The project was founded with the help of a small, diverse group of women – artists, educators, historians, religious leaders and public program managers – all passionate about changing lives and the futures of youth in Arkansas, most particularly in the Arkansas Delta region. The organization began with the sole mission of celebrating Maya Angelou’s life and legacy in the place she called home – Stamps, Arkansas. In 2015, the project incorporated as a 501(C) (3) nonprofit, with the mission of helping honor and promote the inclusive literacy, creativity and social consciousness of the life and work of artist and activist Dr. Maya Angelou through work with youth and communities of Arkansas. Its work includes educating youth about the iconic artist, and creating literacy, writing, history, poetry and arts projects and programming around the state.

How do you feel about being a recipient of this year’s Alex Foundation’s Heart and Treasure Award? 

So very honored, but also surprised. I am a worker bee, and I usually go about my days trying to find ways to do what we do better, and more impactful for children we serve and for the communities that raise them. As Maya Angelou would have us do, we’re all about helping children believe in their possibilities. When an organization such as Alex Foundation recognizes our work, in addition to being a surprise, it is a great honor.  It’s wonderful to know that Alex Foundation, which is an excellent project in its own rights, thinks enough of us to give us this award. Thank you, Angela Courtney and Alex Foundation for all the good you do in Arkansas, especially in the Southeast Arkansas delta regions.

Why do you support Alex Foundation? 

The Alex Foundation does amazing work! I love their commitment to excellence and to children. I love their sense of adventure, working outside the box. It is one of the most creative and visionary nonprofits in the state of Arkansas, by far. I’m so happy they are changing the paradigm for children – which, by the way, impacts these children’s families and communities, as well!

What would you want others to know about the importance of giving back, making a difference and philanthropy? 

Oh, goodness. I could write a book. Being a product of poverty in the Southeast Arkansas Delta, I can tell you that my amazing parents didn’t teach us that it was important to go out into the world and make as much money as we could, and make sure we hoarded it away for the future. We were taught to find joy in life, but most importantly to find a way to give back in return for the blessings God gave us. I would think that giving back and philanthropy and making a difference in one or many children’s lives, should be a natural part of being human. It doesn’t matter how much you have, but how giving is your heart. As a small organization with a limited budget, we are forever seeking ways to impact children’s lives in ways that don’t require the big dollars, that so far, we haven’t received.  We give with our whole hearts…and I believe that makes all the difference.


Brad Chilcote is a Principal at WDD Architects and leads the Educational Design studio. He is passionate about improving the academic environment. Brad shares his love for the wilderness of Arkansas as a Scoutmaster. He is active in his church and volunteering in other organizations. In his spare time, he and his wife Jeanine hike, canoe and explore the backwoods with their two adult sons.

How do you feel about being a recipient of this year’s Alex Foundation’s Heart and Treasure Award?

I’m humbled to be recognized for service that I enjoy and lives I may touch.

 Why do you support Alex Foundation?

I enjoy mentoring students to consider careers in all design fields.

What would you want others to know about the importance of giving back, making a difference and philanthropy?

When you give others your time, some part of yourself, or share your possessions with others, you free space for God to give back to you.




Russell Rudzinski is an architect and retired professor of architecture in the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, where he taught for 23 years. During his career he specialized in teaching design in the first and second year of the professional program, deriving great pleasure in opening the minds of aspiring architects to the immense capacity of architecture to make the world a better place. As the director of the school’s Latin America Summer Urban Studio for 18 years, Russell lead two generations of Arkansas students on study adventures in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. He maintained professional practice throughout his teaching career centered mainly on individual homes and multi-family housing. His design philosophy derives from embracing the essentials of architecture – light, proportion, scale and material – orchestrated to manifest our relationship to place through architectural form.

How do you feel about being a recipient of this year’s Alex Foundation’s Heart and Treasure Award?

It is humbling to be recognized by an organization whose mission so closely mirrors my own professional goals. I spent 25 years in the classroom dedicated to opening young minds to the capacity of architecture to ennoble our daily lives. This award is unexpected, but much appreciated. The real Heart & Treasure are the young people of Arkansas who have benefited so much from the good work of the Alex Foundation.

Why do you support Alex Foundation?

Buildings are a part of everyone’s lives, and the Alex Foundation works tirelessly to raise awareness of architecture as a career path to young generations who may have never considered it a possibility. As a teacher, I recognize the importance of encouraging the next generation to bring their immense talent and energy to bear on enlarging the future of design. I also support the Alex Foundation because of the boundless energy and optimism of Angela Courtney. It is easy to believe in a cause when someone like her so passionately does.


What would you want others to know about the importance of giving back, making a difference and philanthropy?

“Giving back” should not be something that someone has to make concerted effort to do. It should be a part of their daily habits, even in the smallest possible way. I never saw my work with the Alex Foundation as something out of the ordinary, it fit so perfectly with my idea of using architecture to make the world a better place. I thrive on sharing my joy of architecture with young people – I get so much energy and satisfaction from them, “giving back” sometimes seems almost selfish.


Heifer International has donated voluminous books to Alex Foundation – more than 10,000 books for rural and underserved students. Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with nearly 43 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty sustainably. Working with rural communities in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including the United States, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income.


Garver has provided Alex Foundation with monetary contributions, STEM education and project site tours through its GarverGives, a corporate giving program and platform where the firm and employees can give back and get involved. Employees partner with local organizations to advance STEM education and strengthen Garver communities through grants, employee giving and volunteerism. Founded in 1919, Garver is an employee-owned multi-disciplined engineering, planning and environmental services firm with more than 1,000 employees across the United States. Offering a wide range of services focused on aviation, buildings, construction, enterprise solutions, federal, survey, transportation, water and wastewater, Garver sits in the top 100 of the Engineering News-Record’s prestigious Top 500 Design Firms.


Alex Foundation’s benefit and awards ceremony this year is themed, Merging Architecture and Fashion, and will coincide with World Architecture Day. The fashion show, styled by Belk, will present architects from across the State of Arkansas modeling the latest runway apparel and ready to wear couture. Grammy nominated John Two-Hawks will present a special musical performance. A Desha County-based 501 C 3 tax exempt nonprofit organization, Alex Foundation’s mission is to engage students, and specifically limited access and rural students in exploring architecture and design through place-based learning, experiential learning, project-based learning, and multi-disciplinary learning.  For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, visit www.alex-foundation.org.





Sunday, October 1: 4 pm to 7 pm.

Center for Humanities & Arts (CHARTS) – 3000 W. Scenic Drive, North Little Rock

Alex Foundation | alexfoundation.org




Inviting Arkansas

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