MLK Recommitment Banquet to Honor Five with 'Salute to Greatness' Awards

Cynthia Nance, keynote speaker
Photo Submitted

Cynthia Nance, keynote speaker

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Northwest Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council will hold its 21st annual Recommitment Banquet at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, in the Fayetteville Town Center as the final event in the local celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Cynthia E. Nance, dean emeritus and Nathan G. Gordon Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law, will deliver the keynote speech at the banquet.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available on the council’s website.

Five annual Salute to Greatness awards will be presented during the banquet:

  • Dr. Hershey and Denise Garner will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • University of Arkansas Police Department Capt. Gary Crain will receive the Ernestine White-Gibson Individual Achievement Award.
  • Terrence Boyd will receive the Rodney Momon Youth/Young Adult Award.
  • Cheryl Colbert will receive the Rev. J.A. Hawkins Posthumous Award.
  • Old Buildings LLC, founded by Ted and Rev. Leslie Belden, will receive the Business/Non-Profit of the Year Award.

The council will also award 10 scholarships to Northwest Arkansas high school students and 11 scholarships to current undergraduates.

“The Northwest Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council members are ecstatic to have the opportunity to present 21 scholarships in order to further the academic success and assist in financing our leaders of tomorrow,” said council President Angela Mosley Monts. “In the first year of the Recommitment Banquet we were able to award two scholarships. The growth of this event and the community support we have received over the past 21 years have made all the difference.”

The event will also feature a silent auction to raise funds for future scholarships.

The Recommitment Banquet is presented in conjunction with the University of Arkansas, which serves as the executive producer of the event.

Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Danielle L. Wood-Williams, chair, sponsorship sub-committee at


Nance earned her Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, from Chicago State University and her law degree, with distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law. She also earned an Master of Arts from the University of Iowa College of Business. She joined the University of Arkansas faculty as an assistant professor in 1994, and served as dean of the School of Law from 2006-2011. She currently teaches courses in labor and employment law, torts and poverty law.

Nance has given presentations on various legal and educational issues nationally as well as in Mexico, Brunei, Singapore and Ukraine. She served as keynote speaker during the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas' inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. She is a former chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Labor and Employment Law and Employment Discrimination sections, and is an ex-officio Council member of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, representing the section in the association’s House of Delegates.

She was recently appointed to the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, and is a council member of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, where she also serves as a liaison to the Standards Review Committee. Nance serves on the board of the National Association of Law Placement Foundation, is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and the American and Arkansas Bar Associations.



This award recognizes lives noted for unselfish acts of kindness, service and giving.

Denise Garner is a retired nurse who has worked with health, education, policy, arts, and social welfare organizations. She recently founded Feed Communities, a non-profit hunger relief, nutrition education, and sustainable food systems advocacy organization. She was appointed to the Governor's Hunger Relief Task Force and the Higher Education Vision 2025 Task Force. Denise has also been awarded a National Komen “Power of the Promise” award; PEO, International Southern Region "Women Going Places" award; the U of A Honorary Social Worker of the Year award in 2014; and will receive the Arkansas Philanthropist of the Year this September from the Women's Foundation of Arkansas.

Dr. Hershey Garner is an oncology staff physician, clinical assistant professor and a lecturer. He is board certified in radiation oncology by the American Board of Radiology, American Medical Association, and Arkansas Medical Society. He serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Doctor's for America — President Barack Obama's medical advisory team.

Dr. Garner is actively involved in faith-based and community activities. He works with the St. Paul's Episcopal Church’s Youth Ministry, Facilities Committee, Millennium Development Committee and the Welcome Committee. He is also a member of the Fayetteville Public Library’s Foundation Board and Operations Board, the Walton Arts Center Board, the National Child Protection Training Center capital campaign and the Ozarks Roots Festival Board.

The Garners have previously received several awards, including the Dorothy Lindquist Volunteer of the Year Award in 2005; AFP Outstanding Philanthropist Award in 2006; Youth Can! Shining Star Award in 2008; Rotary International Service Above Self Award in 2009; and AY Magazine Power Couple award in 2011. They also served as Affordable Care Act National Representatives to the White House.

They have two sons and one grandson.



This award is given to an individual who has given to his or her community through service, leadership, and commitment.

Gary Crain started his law enforcement career in 1976 serving two years in the police department of his hometown, Malvern.

He joined the University of Arkansas Police Department in 1978, working as a patrol officer and later a sergeant on campus through the 1980s, served as training sergeant and administrative sergeant, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1990.

His duties as lieutenant included supervising the crime prevention program, technical support for information systems and alarm systems, and managing the UAPD communications center. He was assigned to be the public information officer for the police department, and was promoted to captain in 2013.

Crain has also served at the U of A as chair of the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus during the 1980s and senator in the Staff Senate during the 1990s.

Crain graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor of science in agricultural, food and life sciences. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the School of Law Enforcement Supervision at the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute and the Leadership Springdale program through the Springdale Chamber of Commerce.

Other activities include service and membership as president of the Arkansas Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, where he is currently on the Board of Directors; National Academy Associates, Arkansas Chapter; Fraternal Order of Police; International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators; and Association of Public Safety Communications Officials.

Captain Crain and his wife, Bonnie, live in Springdale.



This award is given in recognition of a youth or young adult who has exemplified strong character, leadership, and service to the community.

Terrance L. Boyd, originally from Humphrey, is associate director of recruitment and the director of the Honors College Path Program at the U of A. He’s an advocate of education and equality, especially for youth from diverse communities, seeking to give the same opportunities to others that were afforded to him.

“I want students to understand that the world is bigger than our immediate circle, our immediate country,” said Boyd. “There may be different cultures, different languages, but we’re still human. We can learn from each other.”

Boyd is committed to dedicating his life, energy, and attention to the students and communities he works for, striving for his impact to go beyond the University of Arkansas. He is active in several ministries at the Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church, ranging from the youth department to the board of trustees. He also works hard for his brotherhood, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

He currently serves on the advisory council for his home chapter, Iota Tau. He is also a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Northwest Arkansas. He has traveled to countries in Africa, South America, and Europe to see the far reaches and impact of the African diaspora.



This award recognizes a person whose life and service had a positive impact on the community.

Cheryl Jumper Colbert, who passed away in March 2016, spent her life promoting education. The Cheryl J. Colbert Foundation was established in her memory to help all those who seek their betterment through education by funding scholarships for local youths.

Colbert was a 1973 graduate of Tulsa’s McLain High School and attended the University of Arkansas where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in elementary education and special education in 1976. She began her teaching career at Butterfield Elementary in Fayetteville, where she spent eight years teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, then taught 4th grade for two years at Morrison Elementary School in Fort Smith.

While raising her two daughters, J’onnelle and Janneesa, Colbert founded the Colbert’s Corner Homeschool, where she taught preschool-aged children, using her teaching background and her writing skills to create books to help the children learn.

Beginning in 1991 Colbert spent a total of 24 years working at what is now the Donald W. Reynolds Boys and Girls Club in Fayetteville, creating youth groups that provided programing and education for at-risk youth.

She also began teaching English as a Second Language at Jefferson Elementary School, working with both youth and adults during the early growth of the Latino population in Northwest Arkansas, and continuing her support for the Latino community as it became established in the area.

In early 2000, Colbert developed Helping Hands, a youth program to teach life skills to older students to prepare them for college and other endeavors. In her later years Colbert wrote several educational books, including one that taught the principals of Kwanzaa, and was widely used in the local community. In 2016 she became a published author with her book, The Griot’s Visit: A Story for Kwanzaa.

Mrs. Colbert is survived by her husband, John L Colbert, their two daughters, son-in-law, and two granddaughters.



This award is given in recognition of a corporation or organization that has donated time, effort, and finances to upgrade the community.

Ted and Leslie Belden’s backgrounds in architecture and their deep commitment to giving back to others through community, led them to form a family business in Fayetteville, Old Buildings LLC. The business is founded on the belief that the physical environment of a community, and the historical structures

within it, influence its culture and the way that the values of its citizens are formed and expressed — especially how children learn who they are. The Belden’s invested in the re-development and infill development of downtown Fayetteville making it a vibrant “community within a community,” adding both cultural and economic value to the city of Fayetteville.

Ted Belden is originally from Jacksonville, where he and his brother Dennis are third-generation owners of their family’s manufacturing company, Lomanco Inc.

Ted and Rev. Leslie Belden moved to Fayetteville in August of 1995 for Leslie to serve as the associate pastor of First United Presbyterian Church. They have both served in many capacities in the governing bodies and committees associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In addition, Rev. Belden has served on the boards of the Arkansas Alumni Association, the U of A’s Women’s Giving Circle, and many other local and state organizations. The Beldens have also co-chaired the Fay Jones School of Architecture’s Campaign Arkansas, served on the Campaign for the 21st Century and supported many non-profits, including the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, Peace at Home Family Shelter, and the Fayetteville Literary Council.

Ted and Leslie Belden have two daughters, Mary Belden Carroll and Melissa Belden Werner, whose husband, Randy Werner manages Old Buildings LLC. They also have three grandchildren.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.




Angela Mosley Monts, president
NWA MLK Council

Danielle L. Wood-Williams, chair, sponsorship subcommittee
NWA MLK Council


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