LeadAR Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Laura Hendrix
In this month’s LeadAR Alumni Spotlight, we talk with Dr. Laura Hendrix, LeadAR Class 16. Laura is an associate professor with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. She holds her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Home Economics and has earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy.
Laura works as the state specialist in Family and Consumer Sciences and coordinates outreach education programs in personal finance. She grew up in the Arkansas River Valley and currently lives in central Arkansas. Laura enjoys hiking, running, yoga and cycling. We’ve asked Laura to reflect on her LeadAR experience and how the program still impacts her life today. We’ve shared her answers below.
What leadership roles or positions have you held/currently hold?
I have served as an officer for several professional associations. I am the state advisor for one of the oldest volunteer organizations in the state – Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council. Their organization has been around for more than 100 years and they have nearly 4,000 members. I help with leadership development for that organization. I am co-chair of the Financial Security for All Community of Practice – a national group of Extension educators who teach personal finance. Informally, I provide leadership to a variety of projects and teams through my work and volunteer roles.
Why did you choose to be a part of the LeadAR program? What motivated you?
I learned about LeadAR through my work with the Cooperative Extension Service. I was intrigued by the things alumni said about the program. LeadAR seemed like a great opportunity for self-improvement.
How did your LeadAR experience impact your professional life?
Being in a leadership development program provided knowledge and skills that I use not only with my employees and co-workers but also with volunteers.
What LeadAR activity or part of the program do you believe helped you develop as a leader?
In the LeadAR program, we learned about Arkansas’ rural issues as we traveled around the state. In-depth conversations with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures was very enlightening. This was a great way to get to see Arkansas in a different light and get to know people and places around the state.
What is a significant LeadAR memory or moment that you still think about today?
I regularly use the group facilitation skills we learned and that were modeled in the LeadAR sessions. We learned to plan, organize, and conduct meetings as well as how to facilitate difficult discussions.
What advice would you give to an up and coming leader?
The best advice is: In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you and love one another. Also, be intentional in seeking opportunities for personal growth through reading, listening to podcasts, taking classes, attending seminars, or joining leadership programs.
What leadership quality do you admire most in others?
The ability to empower others to achieve a common goal. Leaders who motivate with kindness, compassion, and empathy.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a registered yoga teacher, RYT500.
What book are you reading?
A Splendid Piece of Work by Elizabeth Griffin Hill. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Essence of the Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran.
What show are you watching?
Heartland on Netflix – It’s my comfort show.
What podcasts are you following?
Hidden Brain, Planet Money, Ten Percent Happier (Dan Harris), Up First (NPR), Unlocking Us (Brene Brown), Optimal Living Daily, Trained (Nike), The Rich Roll Podcast, Working Differently in Extension, and My Favorite Murder.
What is one crucial ingredient for true happiness?
I’m not sure we can pinpoint “true happiness” but I know I feel best when I take care of my health (sleep, exercise, healthy food, meditation, recreation), manage time wisely, and prioritize tasks that reflect my values.
How can leadership help move communities and the state of Arkansas forward?
Margaret Mead said it best “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”