Chris Villines brings a life-long passion of public service in county government to the AAC executive director position. He was named the seventh executive director of the association in April 2010. Chris was named as one of Ten Outstanding Young Arkansans by the Jaycees in 1998 and later that year was elected to the position of Saline County Collector. He served as collector for 11 years until his selection by the AAC Board of Directors in April 2010.
Villines also developed a “big picture” view from his active role as president of the Collectors’ Association. Leading the Collectors’ Association for several years was itself an intensive training ground from his active role working with the Legislature.
“The AAC’s role is to help make each county official the best county official they can be, to give them the tools necessary to do that,” Chris said in a summer 2010 County Lines article.
He was born in Harrison, but his family moved to Benton before his first birthday. His dad owned a title company in Benton, and Chris, a self-proclaimed “courthouse rat,” grew up working for him. Chris earned a degree in finance at University of Arkansas and studying a year of law school, he then went to work for a company doing site acquisition for cellular towers. He did the site acquisition work from 1993-98, when Saline County voters chose their new 28-year-old collector.
Chris Villines … Point by Point
Mark serves as chief legal counsel for AAC and its boards and officials; serves as the AAC contact for the county judges, sheriffs and coroners; and serves as fund counsel for AAC Risk Management Services and AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust.
Mark has more than 25 years of experience in litigation as an attorney in Arkansas. Mark served the Arkansas State Highway Commission for 13 years as staff attorney representing the Highway Department and its officers and employees in regard to personnel matters before the courts of the United States, and in hundreds of contract claims, tort claims and eminent domain cases. Mark earned his Juris Doctor in 1987 from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Little Rock. After obtaining his license to practice law in Arkansas in 1987, Mark served as an associate in the firm of Kemp & Duckett as a general civil lawyer and served as special master & law clerk for the Chancery Court of Pulaski County, First Division. Mark is originally from North Little Rock and graduated from Northeast High School. Mark attended and received his bachelor of arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University in 1984.
Scott Perkins joined the association October 2011. Perkins, former publisher of The Paragould Daily Press, has worked in Arkansas daily newspapers for 10 years, including editor positions in Russellville and Stuttgart. Scott is an award-winning journalist, with awards from APME and the Arkansas Press Association that range from editorial to feature writing and from column writing to promotion of newspaper. His role at AAC has transitioned to more of a legislative role. He is originally from Cabot, Ar., and attended Arkansas State University school of communications. He is married to his wife, Misty, and they have a 11-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. He is an avid golfer and enjoys biking, camping and fishing with the family.
Josh Curtis was born and raised in Benton, Arkansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Josh came to the AAC in 2015 after working in Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration as a legislative and agency liaison, a role in which he advised the governor on legislative matters focused on health care and was in charge of communication on a variety of topics between the governor’s office and many state agencies.
Josh previously served as a legislative liaison for the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office and as director of governmental affairs for the Office of Lieutenant Governor. In these roles Josh has maintained a strong relationship with members of the General Assembly and Arkansas’ constitutional offices. He began his career in state government with State Land Commissioner John Thurston, organizing delinquent tax sales in every county in the state.
One of Josh’s first experiences in county government was his election in 2012 as justice of the peace to the Saline County Quorum Court. He now serves as chairman of the Human Resource Committee and vice-chairman of the Finance Committee. Josh looks forward to putting his experience in state government and his knowledge of county government to use at the AAC.
Josh and his wife, Alisha, are lifelong residents of Benton. Alisha Curtis works for the Hutchinson administration as office manager and executive assistant to the deputy chief of staff. Josh is a weekend golfer and loves being outside, especially during the fall and winter months while deer season is in.
Lindsey Bailey was born and raised in Pocahontas, Arkansas. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She is a graduate of the William H. Bowen UALR School of Law, where she served as assistant research editor on Law Review. During law school, she was named Arkansas’ 2013 Janet D. Steiger Fellow by the American Bar Association Antitrust Section and served in that capacity in the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. As a two-year law clerk at the AAC, Lindsey looks forward to making the transition to staff attorney in the near future.
Christy L. Smith, who joined the association as communications coordinator in April 2014, was born and raised in Stamps, Arkansas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Central Arkansas, and she studied international journalism at Baylor University, which led to a three-month internship in Kenya. She has more than a decade of journalism experience, having worked for newspapers and magazines in North Little Rock and Little Rock. Her hobbies include running, hiking, camping, traveling and cooking. She is married and has two stepchildren and two dogs.
Jeanne began working at the Association of Arkansas Counties in 1982. Since that time, she has been in many of the different divisions of AAC and became executive secretary to the director in August 1988 and executive assistant in January 2003. In addition to assisting the AAC director, Jeanne is the AAC conference coordinator.
Jeanne and her husband Paul live in Conway and have four children and six grandchildren.
Whitney Barket joined the association in February 2014. Prior to working for the association, Whitney was the executive assistant to the director of advertising and the director of classified advertising at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly three years. Before her work at the paper, she was the office manager and bookkeeper for a small law firm in Little Rock for six years. Whitney graduated high school in 2000 from Pulaski Academy and attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She and her husband, Jonathan, live in Little Rock. They are new parents to twins. Her hobbies include, crafting, painting and cooking.
Cindy Posey is the Accountant for the Association of Arkansas Counties. After graduating from Russellville High School in 1979, she attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, graduating in 1983 with a degree in Accounting & Data Processing.
After graduation, Cindy worked as an accountant for Dillard’s Department Stores for five years until the birth of her first child. In 1993, she returned to the workforce as the Network Administrator for a large Little Rock church. After the birth of her second child in 1996, she took another five year break from fulltime employment to stay home with the children. From 2001 to 2003, she worked part time as the assistant to the Human Resources Director for CARTI, Inc. in Little Rock and again returned home to stay with the children. In 2007, she returned to the workplace as a Financial Analyst for Windstream Communications.
Cindy joined the staff at AAC in August of 2009. She and her husband, Carroll, live in Benton. They have two children – Celeste who is a senior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and Grant who is in the 8th grade at Benton Junior High School.
Mark Harrell joined AAC in October 2015 as the IT Manager. This is a new position for the association. Mark was previously employed for 34 years with IBM, where he worked in the IT service area. At AAC, he will be working with counties to determine how technology can improve processes and efficiency.
Mark and his wife, Suzanne, live in Mayfower. They enjoy hunting, fishing, boating and spending time with their children. They have two sons and daughters-in-law, Blake and his wife Mallory, and Justin and his wife Sydney. They also have two granddaughters, Harlee and Lyla.
Becky Comet of Benton joined the Association of Arkansas Counties in June 2012 as its member benefits manager. Becky is originally from Belleville, Illinois, where she graduated from high school in 1978. She earned a degree in Elementary and Special Education in 1981 from Eastern Illinois University. Becky moved to Arkansas in 1982 to start her teaching career. She met J.C. Comet while they were both teaching at Fuller Jr. High School. J.C. and Becky were married in 1983 and have four children and one granddaughter.
Becky taught special education students as well as seventh grade math for 28 years. She taught Arkansas children in Little Rock, Blytheville, Gosnell and Benton, finishing her teaching career at Benton Middle School. In 2011, she was a finalist on the show “The Biggest Loser.” It was through this opportunity that she lost 88 pounds and learned how to live a healthy lifestyle. Becky and her husband reside in Benton, where they continue to strive to live healthy and teach others to do the same.
Becky brings her many years of experience with people and advocating for both students and their parents to the member benefits area of the AAC. She will be an advocate for county government employees in many different areas.
Brenda Emerson is the ACE Program Coordinator for AAC. She graduated from North Little Rock High School in 1967. Brenda worked in the credit department of Worthen Bank from 1970 until 1976. In June 1976, Brenda was hired by the Federation of American Hospitals, a trade association that represents the privately-owned hospital industry. She worked at the federation for the next 26 years, first as receptionist, then administrative assistant to the director. She was promoted to circulation manager of Review Magazine and finally manager of meetings and conventions. In January 2003, Brenda was hired as receptionist for AAC and since she was the third "Brenda" working at AAC at that time, she was given the nickname "Emmy.” In June 2011, AAC became the coordinating and certifying body for the continuing education programs for five of the member associations, and Brenda became the ACE Program Coordinator (ARcounties Continuing Education Program). Her duties include helping to gather speakers and programs, coordinating host hotel and meal arrangements, publicizing agendas, registration, keeping track of continuing education hours for each meeting attendee, providing certificates at the end of each year, administering a listserv for each association, and working closely with the Auditor of State’s office on all reimbursements and reporting financial details regarding each meeting.
Karan Skarda, who joined AAC in January 2016, was born and raised on the Grand Prairie. Karan has a long history in county and state government, serving as county clerk and as circuit clerk for Prairie County, as continuing education coordinator for the Auditor of State’s Office, and as deputy director at the State Board of Election Commissioners.
After working 28 years, Karan took a two-year hiatus to enjoy being “Kappie” to her newborn granddaughter, Addison Cole Tate. Addison is the absolute light of Karan’s life. The only job opportunity capable of enticing Karan away from Addison was the opportunity to work at AAC as the ACE coordinator upon Emmy’s retirement.
Karan is married to Mike Skarda, Prairie County Judge.
Elizabeth Sullivan joined the AAC as receptionist in July 2011. She transitioned to a position with AAC's Risk Managment Services in February 2014, but returned to the front desk during a time of staff reorganization. “This is the first job I have ever had where I actually look forward to Mondays. I work with wonderful people,” Sullivan said when asked to sum up her thoughts about her job. Elizabeth's hobbies include playing with her daughter Emersyn, photography and scrapbooking, watching football and listening to music. Born in Kansas City, Mo., she is working toward an associate's degree in accounting at Pulaski Technical College. She plans to transfer to UALR afterward to earn a four-year degree.
Debbie Norman is the Manager of AAC Risk Management Services and the Insurance Director. She graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in North Little Rock in 1978. She began working part-time for Telcoe Federal Credit Union at the age of 15 through the DECA program at Sylvan Hills. She worked at the Credit Union for the next 15 years, first as clerical help, then computer operator, promoted to Accounting Supervisor and finally Vice President.
In July of 1990 Debbie was hired at Sedgwick James of AR, Inc. as a Inside Claims Adjuster handling medical only workers' compensation claims. She was later promoted to Senior Claims Specialist supervising all Inside Claims Adjusters and promoted once again to Senior Administrative Assistant to the Claims Manager. As Senior Administrative Assistant she worked with 5 large Self-Insured Workers' Compensation Trust Groups which included the AAC Workers' Compensation Trust.
In April 1998 Debbie was hired as Administrative Assistant for AAC Risk Management Services. Her job duties consisted of taking care of additions and deletions to vehicle schedules for those members that participate in the AAC Auto Program, daily changes to property schedules for those members that participate in the AAC Property Program, all Risk Management Fund renewals as well as claims adjuster for all Risk Management Fund auto claims. In February 2001, Debbie was promoted to Manager of AAC Risk Management Services.
Debbie Norman can be reached directly at 375-8247.
Debbie Lakey is a claims examiner for AAC Risk Management Services. She has been in workers’ compensation since 1994. Prior to joining the AAC team she worked for Crawford and Company. Debbie and her husband, Lonnie, live in Conway and have two children and five grandsons.
Brandy serves as in-house counsel for AAC Risk Management Services. Brandy began working at AAC in August 2011 as a law clerk. She earned a juris doctorate degree with high honors in 2013 from the William H. Bowen School of Law. She earned a bachelor of arts in marketing and finance, graduating cum laude in 2009, from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Born in Little Rock, Brandy returned to the area with her family after 17 years in Iowa.
Cathy joined the association in January 2001 as the Risk Management Services receptionist. Since that time, she has worked in the many different areas within the risk management side of the business, from answering phones to working workers’ compensation claims. She then earned an Arkansas Multi-Line Producer License and began working with the member counties and volunteer fire departments throughout the state to update and maintain their coverage with the RMF on their fleet, equipment and property. She now works as a claims analyst, adjusting automobile and property loss claims, and has plans to get her associate in claims (AIC) designation this next year.
Kim Nash is a claims adjuster with AAC Risk Management Services. Since joining AAC in August 2011, she has worked in several different areas. She started as a receptionist for AAC, and then was given the opportunity to transfer to AAC Risk Management Services to begin working on Workers' Compensation claims. She is now a licensed Workers' Compensation Claims Adjuster and manages more than 100 claims while balancing the other duties that come with day-to-day work. When not at work, she is the children's director for nursery through 2 year olds at ThatChurch.com in Sherwood. Kim and her husband, Mike, live in Sherwood. They have one daughter and have just opened their home to be foster parents. They are excited to see what God has in store for their family. Kim loves to serve with her church family, her community and the counties of Arkansas.
Riley joined the AAC in March 2015. He is a claims analyst, handling auto and property claims. He graduated from Magnet Cove High School in 2008 and went on to earn a business degree from the University of Arkansas. After graduating from college, he moved to Seattle, where he worked as an auto adjust for Allstate. He currently lives in Alexander with his wife, Brooke. His hobbies include music, kayaking and anything sci-fi.
After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Insurance and Risk Management in 2005, Barry Burkett joined the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Services in 2006. He has an extensive background in business and loss prevention, having worked in these areas for more than 20 years. Barry has earned the Approved Professional Safety Source (APSS) designation through the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Health and Safety Division. This distinction allows him to provide assistance and direction to Arkansas’ counties for their safety plans and programs. Yearly he visits 74 of these counties, meeting with county judges, road department superintendents, and OEM/safety directors to perform an annual safety inspection, which helps the counties obtain points for AAC Safety Awards. His favorite part of the job is traveling to various regions in Arkansas and visiting with county officials. Though a native Arkansan, he professes that he has been to, and seen, parts of Arkansas he never knew existed! Barry and his wife Dianne live in Searcy; their daughter, Jennifer, and son-in-law, Matt, live in Arkadelphia.
Kim Mitchell joined AAC Risk Management in November 2012 as administrative assistant. Prior to joining the AAC team, her work experience included 20 years as office manager/bookkeeper for a family business in Little Rock, and then nine years of working customer service and bookkeeping for Saline County.
“I feel blessed to be part of the AAC team and this great group of people. I have enjoyed meeting and working with people from different counties and in various capacities.”
She and her husband, Dennis, live in the Vimy Ridge area of Saline County. They enjoy traveling, cooking, gardening, boating and fishing, and spending time with friends and family, which includes four granddaughters that are “the joy of our lives.”
Karen joined the AAC Risk Management Services staff in June 2015. Born in Rockford, Ill., she moved to Magnolia at the age of 10. She is a graduate of Magnolia High School, and she attended Southern Arkansas University. She has one daughter and has lived in Little Rock for more than 20 years. Karen's hobbies include decorating and restoring old furniture.
Ellen joined AAC Risk Management Services as administrative assistant in February 2016. Her work experience includes 35 1/2 years working in various capacities in the advertising department at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She ended her tenure there as the executive assistant to the vice president of advertising and marketing.
She is married to her high school sweetheart, Gil. They live in Little Rock and have one son, Brian. Their family includes a Pomeranian/Chihauhau diva dog, Dixie.
Ellen's hobbies include (dirt, oval) stock car racing, motorcycle riding, camping and reading.