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Alumni Association Awards Brunch
Saturday, April 6, 2019
10 a.m. - Worsham Student Performance Hall (SLTC)

2019 Hendrix Humanitarian Award
Heather Michelle Newell '11

Heather Newell has spent the last seven years gaining experience in international education, social enterprise, women’s empowerment, and mental health. Following her service in the U.S. Peace Corps in rural Rwanda from 2011-2013, she consulted for a Rwanda-based microfinance bank and helped launch The Women’s Bakery, a social enterprise that trains women to run and operate nutrition-centric bakeries in East Africa. Her role with the organization was to design, write, and curate its nationally accredited training curriculum. She also led the organization’s U.S. office with marketing and fundraising initiatives. After 3 ½ years, she transitioned out of The Women’s Bakery and now serves in an advisory role for the organization. 

Newell currently works in the mental health field while she completes master’s level studies and licensure to become a professional therapist. As an education and employment specialist with Jefferson Center for Mental Health in Colorado, she facilitates connections to work and educational opportunities for young adults with mental health barriers. Her passion for underserved populations also has led her to chair the advisory board for Growing Colorado Kids, a refugee organization that teaches refugee and immigrant youth to harvest and cook healthy food. She has written and published a variety of articles specific to LGBTQ+ topics and issues.


2019 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Douglas Hutchings '05

Douglas Hutchings graduated from Hendrix with a double major in mathematics and physics. He moved to Fayetteville to continue his education at the University of Arkansas’s Microelectronics-Photonics program, where he received a Master of Science degree in 2007 and a Ph.D. in 2010. Supplementing his traditional engineering curriculum with business classes, he received a Graduate Certificate of Entrepreneurship from the Walton College of Business. He has always been interested in entrepreneurship, having worked in the summers for the timber business his father started in his hometown of Deal, England. This background provided the impetus to co-found Picasolar, a solar company built around technology developed at the University of Arkansas. Hutchings has had a front-row seat for the rapid change in the solar industry, and his early career included cutting-edge technology development, supply chain optimization for local installers, and advocating for intelligent policy at the local, state, and national levels.

Hutchings is passionate about STEM education, and has served on the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (ASTA) STEM Advisory Board, and was as a founding board member of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) in addition to the corresponding Foundation. He supports entrepreneurship in Arkansas through his work with the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the UA and Innovate Arkansas. His goal is to play a small role in making sure that Arkansas graduates can join a company or create their own job, regardless of their academic discipline. He is married to Kassie Hutchings, who attended Hendrix from 2003 to 2005, and they have a son, Gray, born in 2018.



2019 Distinguished Alumna Award
Carol Hampton Rasco '69

As a lifelong policy advocate for children, Carol Rasco has consistently championed improving education, promoting early literacy, and supporting children with disabilities through her professional and community pursuits. Her work has taken her from Arkansas County to the Arkansas State Capitol, then to the White House and beyond.

Raised in DeWitt, Arkansas, Rasco attended Hendrix College, finished her degree at the University of Arkansas, and later received a master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas. During her early career, she taught elementary school in the public school system and was a middle school counselor.

In 1983, she joined then-Governor Bill Clinton’s staff as chief policy advisor, remaining in that role for the next decade and serving as Clinton’s liaison to the National Governor’s Association during his chairmanship. In a 1993 New York Times article, colleagues credited Rasco with running much of the state’s daily business in the year that Clinton campaigned for the Presidency.

In 1993, upon Clinton’s election as 42nd President of the United States, Rasco moved to Washington, D.C., where she served four years in the White House as Assistant to the President, Domestic Policy Adviser to the President, and director of the Domestic Policy Council. A trusted aide to President Clinton, she influenced national policy regarding immunizations, disability rights, immigration, and healthcare.

From 1997 through 2000, Rasco served as senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, and directed Clinton’s childhood literacy initiative, the America Reads Challenge. Designed and implemented by Riley and Rasco, America Reads was a four-year national campaign that promoted the importance of children reading well and independently by the end of the 3rd grade.

In 2001, she worked briefly as a government relations consultant for College Board before joining Reading as Fundamental (RIF) as its president and CEO. She grew the organization’s national presence despite steep federal government budget cuts. By increasing community and private partnerships, RIF has grown to provide 4.4 million children with free books and literacy resources each year, including the addition of tips and resources for parents. She also assembled a research team on Summer Learning Loss that produced solid results through providing books to children in homes and neighborhoods without access to books.

Rasco retired from RIF in 2016 and now resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She happily spends more time back in Arkansas with her two adult children, Hamp Rasco and Mary-Margaret Marks, and in her role as GiGi to three grandsons. She remains engaged with all things reading, committed to the arts and the policy issues of the disabled, and an active United Methodist.





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