Arvest Bank in Fayetteville hosted its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reception at 2 p.m. today. The annual reception honors the life and work of the great civil rights leader, and this year featured guest speaker Joseph K. Wood, the Holcomb Honor Choir and winners of the Yvonne Richardson Center essay contest.
Wood is the newly elected Washington County Judge and former Deputy Secretary of State for Arkansas. Before that, he worked for Walmart Stores, Inc. corporate office as head of international recruitment and staffing.
“The speaker and reception honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most anticipated events we host each year,” said Gaye Wilcox, EVP and Sales Manager of Arvest Bank in Fayetteville. “We look forward to it as a great way to honor Dr. King while remaining open to serve our customers.”
Winners of the essay contest are Isaiah Stevenson, a fourth grader from Asbell Elementary in first place, Selah Anderson, a third grader from Asbell Elementary in second place and Emily Jarmon, a fourth grader from Washington Elementary in third place. Tenisha Gist, director of the Yvonne Richardson Center and R. Janae Pitts-Murdock, program recreation assistant, accompanied the essay winners to the reception where each were encouraged to read their entry to the audience. Arvest Bank provided the prizes for the contest: a $75 gift card for first place, a $50 gift card for second place and a $25 gift card for third place.
Wood started out his life as a foundling abandoned on the streets at birth and spent the first few years of his life in an orphanage. Adopted into a family that included two brothers and a sister, he grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Chicago. His parents, a construction worker and an educator, stressed hard work and education along with serving the community.
He earned his business administration degree from Iowa State University in 1987 and finished his Master of Christian Leadership degree in 2016.
Wood has a variety of business experience, including owning his own career consulting firm and working as assistant director of admissions for the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He also formerly worked as a state bank examiner.
Among his many community service activities, Wood serves on the board for KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), Delta Public Schools, is a board member for Youth Bridge, is a state representative for Sister Cities International, serves on the Region 2 Selective Services board and is a member of the Board of Governance for Ecclesia College in Springdale. He formerly served on the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Diversity Advisory Board and on the board for the NWA American Red Cross.
Wood and his wife of 24 years, June Wood, moved to Washington County in 1997 and share their home with June’s mother. The couple has three daughters and two grandsons. The family attends Christian Life Cathedral in Fayetteville.