Author, educator and civil rights vanguard Terrence Roberts will give a virtual address at 4:30 p.m. Saturday to celebrate 18 new graduates of the Arkansas chapter of the New Leaders Council.

Roberts will talk about his experience as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the first Black students to integrate Little Rock Central High. Afterwards, New Leaders Council graduates Rosa Valázquez and Tracey Bradley-Simmons will give capstone presentations about their visions for Arkansas. Suggested donations for this fundraiser start at $25, but family members and guests of graduates, along with potential applicants to the program, can sign up for a free link.


The event is a fundraiser for New Leaders Council, whose mission is to train, equip and establish an inclusive and equitable community of diverse leaders from across the state. There’s a chapter in all 50 states.

This year’s graduates include:


Bernard Oliver, Owner, NerdAthlete Multimedia LLC, Fayetteville

Dionne Mitchell, English teacher, Little Rock School District, Little Rock, AR


Drew Spurgers, Owner, Kanga Studios, Conway 

Eric Walden, assistant chief of staff, Sixth Division Circuit Court, Pine Bluff

Esthella Kamara, learning content designer, Walmart Inc., Bentonville 

Gheremey Edwards, retail marketer, Walmart Inc., Bentonville


Jerome Wilson Jr., Pulaski County prosecuting attorney, Little Rock

Karein Hooks, litigation assistant, Anderson Murphy & Hopkins, North Little Rock

Karen Ricketts, freelance photographer/journalist, Little Rock

Lauren Watkins, finance & special events coordinator, Democratic Party of Arkansas, Little Rock

Lindsey Lauritzen, SET for Success transition instructor/career counselor, EasterSeals Arkansas, Little Rock

Marcina Langrine, program coordinator, Marshallese Education Initiative, Springdale

Roosevelte Williams III, assistant to the VP/alumni relations officer, Philander Smith College, Little Rock

Rodney Govens, manager of technical operations, Swyft Connect, Cabot

Rosa Velázquez, policy consultant, Little Rock

Sara Swisher, development coordinator, National Organization for Women, Memphis, Tennessee 

Seth Bradley, prosecuting attorney, 5th Judicial District, Russellville

Tracey Bradley-Simmons, nursery alliance coordinator, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock 

The program lasts six months, January to June, and takes the fellows through more than 70 hours of training in public policy, economic development and political campaigns. Applications for their next class are due September 3.