Laurie McDowell - President/Chairman of the Board

Laura McDowell received her B.S.E. in Physical Education and Middle Level Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, a Masters in Health Education at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and a building level licensure in administration from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.  Ms. McDowell was a classroom teacher for 22 years before becoming the Director of Coordinated School Health (CSH) within the Arkansas Department of Education.   She served in this role until her retirement in 2011.    While teaching she provided numerous trainings to hundreds of teachers in the state of Arkansas in PE and Health standards, HIV/STD/Teen Pregnancy prevention curricula and Comprehensive Health Education curricula. As Director of CSH she was instrumental in developing inter/intra-agency partnerships that provide resources to the school districts in Arkansas.  Through these partnerships, the Coordinated School Health and Wellness Center Initiative and the Child Wellness Intervention Project were created.  Ms. McDowell believes that our schools have not only the responsibility to educate our children but the opportunity to contribute to our society healthy, educated, and productive students by doing for all children what we would do for our own. 

Louise Dennis

Ms. Dennis received her BS in Nursing in 1960 from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  She started her career with the Arkansas Department of Health in 1960 as a Public Health nurse in Craighead and Lee counties.  In 1965, despite her age, she was promoted to Supervisor of Nurses and was in charge of eight counties becoming the youngest supervisor of nurses at that time.  In 1979 the AR Health Department reorganized and she became an area Manager for the counties from Mississippi County to Phillips Counties in Arkansas.  Upon her retirement in 1996, the Health Department had over 400 employees in these counties in which she managed.  In her 30+ years of working with the Health Department some of her accomplishments included:  providing opportunities and services for the counties in which she worked in for healthier communities; established  the first Chest clinic in the State of Arkansas to treat tuberculosis patients at home when previously the only treatment was to be sent to a sanatorium for life; and under the leadership of Dr. Jocelyn Elders, she helped in the establishment of 8 School Based Health Clinics that were staffed by a Public Health Nurse, Social Worker, and Health Educator.  The program received National Recognition on Good Morning America and by the American Public Health Association.  She volunteered for new program initiatives within the AR Department of Health which included:  nurse midwife services, audiologist and speech therapies, and the first hospice program by the health department.  She is active in her community and church and has served on many committees and boards.  She is married to Dan Dennis and they have 4 children, 5 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.  Her hobbies are traveling, bridge, antiquing and visiting family and friends. 

Debby Vest

Debby Vest received her BSE in Physical Education and Health Education from Henderson State University.  Mrs. Vest was a physical education teacher, health education teacher and a coach at the Fountain Lake School District in Hot Springs, AR for 26 years.  After leaving the public school system she was employed by the Arkansas Department of Education to serve as the Physical Education, Nutrition and Tobacco (PANT) Coordinator for the Office of Coordinated School Health (CSH).  She served in this role until her retirement in 2011.  During her years as the PANT Coordinator, Mrs. Vest provided hundreds of teachers and administrators across the state professional development on the importance of physical activity in the schools.  She is responsible for the development of the Child Wellness Intervention Project (CWIP) which provided up to $10,000.00 in grants to schools to implement a research based quality physical education program.  Mrs. Vest also worked as part time Adjunct Faculty at Henderson State University and worked with student interns in the field of physical education and health.
James Floyd

James Floyd is a recently retired superintendent of Highland School District. He received his graduate and undergraduate degrees from Arkansas State University.  James started his career as a vocational instructor and has spent the last 32 of his 39 years in education as a Principal and Superintendent.  His focus has always been on what is best for all students.  He has been a leader in education improvement initiatives at the local, state and national levels.