Connections: summer 2021


Mike O’Neal is the new chair of the Christian Chronicle’s board of trustees. He was instrumental in establishing the Chronicle’s board during his presidency at Oklahoma Christian University and has served as a trustee since 2003. He and his wife, Nancy Lavender (’75), are members of Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. They have two children and six grandchildren.


Jeff Woods serves as youth deacon for Bethel Church of Christ in Athens, Alabama. He retired in 2014 from Athens State University as a physics content specialist for Alabama Science in Motion. His wife, Debbie, also is retired, and they have two children, Courtney (’09) and Monica Cherry (’13).


Martha Farrar Highfield has written a new book, A Time to Heal: Missionary Nurses in the Churches of Christ, Southeastern Nigeria (1953-1967). She is professor emeritus of nursing at California State University/Northridge and advisor for the Research Fellowship Magnet Program at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and serves on the board of International Health Care Foundation/African Christian Hospitals. She is married to Ron


Lisa Dawn Chapman received her Master of Arts in theological studies from Houston Baptist University in August 2020. She leads adult Bible classes at Sugar Grove Church of Christ in Meadow Place, Texas, and for former co-workers of Shell Oil Co. 


Jeff Tennyson was named to the 2020 Mortgage Global 100 list. He is president and CEO of Lima One Capital, where he is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and day-to-day operations. He is a founding member of and currently serves on the executive advisory council for the National Private Lenders Association. A certified public accountant, he is a graduate of Harvard Business School and married to Kathy Lee Jenkins.


Steven Nutt was promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer at Community National Bank & Trust of Texas. He holds an MBA from Brenau University and an active CPA license in Texas. He serves on the board of Youth Reach International and Fellowship of Christian Athletes- Heart of Texas East. He also serves on the Accounting Program Advisory Committee and Strategic Planning Committee at Navarro College. 


Bill Huddleston was promoted to assistant commissioner for insurance at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. A TDCI team member since 2014, he previously served as director of insurance. A certified public accountant, he was a recipient of a Governor’s Excellence in Service Award in 2017 for his leadership in the Division of Regulatory Boards. 


Jason Carmichael is University of West Georgia’s new athletic director. He previously served as director of intercollegiate athletics at California State University East Bay since 2017. He earned a master’s degree in physical education, health and recreation from Emporia State University. 


Jeff Venable has been named Magnolia market president for BancorpSouth Bank. He joined BancorpSouth in 2017 with nearly 15 years of experience in the banking industry. He serves as board president of Abilities Unlimited Inc. in Hot Springs, Arkansas; board president of Magnolia Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; board member of Columbia County Community Foundation and United Way of Columbia County; advisor for Youth in Action in Columbia County; and a member of the Rotary Club of Magnolia. 

Calvin Wright, manager of the Batesville, Arkansas, Home Depot store, joined the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville board of visitors. He participates in volunteer efforts with Team Depot, Arkansas Sheriffs Youth Ranch, March of Dimes and local school districts. He also is a member of the advisory boards for Batesville Parks and Recreation and White River Medical Center, the board of directors for Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and is a 2016 graduate of the Batesville Area Leadership Program. 


Esperanza Massana-Crane is the new director of Arkansas Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Division, part of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. She was the AEDC’s marketing director before the promotion. She was honored as an Arkansas Business 40 under 40 recipient in 2018. She is on the board of Girl Scouts-Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas and serves on the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission. She is a graduate of the Greater Little Rock Class XXX and Leadership Arkansas Class XII. 


Jay Brogdon is executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer at Simmons First National Corp. Prior to joining Simmons, he worked at Stephens Inc. from 2008-21 where he most recently served as managing director in the investment banking division. Active in the Little Rock community, he serves as deacon at his church, board member of Spark of Life, and volunteer basketball and baseball coach for numerous youth teams. He is married to Erin Kemp (’03).


Michael Hoggard has been promoted by Citizen’s Bank of Batesville, Arkansas, to senior vice president, controller and information security officer, overseeing all financial activities of the bank. Before joining Citizens Bank in 2017, he was audit manager at Erwin and Co. He is a licensed CPA, a graduate of the Leadership Arkansas Class XIII, and attends Fellowship Bible Church. He and his wife, Ashley, have two children, Caden and Sloane. 


Carl McAfee opened the doors to McAfee Chiropractic in Weatherford, Texas, in 2011 and specializes in chiropractic wellness, car injuries, concussions and sports rehabilitation. He earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Parker College of Chiropractic in 2010. He is a member of North Side Baptist Church and past president of Weatherford Noon Lions Club. He and his wife, Trisha Roseberry, have three sons. 

Michael Whitlow was recently promoted to vice president of marketing for Greystone Communities. He resides in Celina, Texas, with his wife, Natalie Wade (’05).


Corey and Valerie Mowrer Bryant announce the birth of a daughter, Evelyn Ann, Dec. 4, 2020. The family resides in Tifton, Georgia. 


Rae Melton is a software developer at Mainstream Technologies. She has 14 years of software development experience including work with American Airlines and ABF Datatronics. 


Ben (’11, DPT ’14) and Emily Chilton Watson announce the birth of a son, Henry, in February 2021. They have two other children, William and Margaret. The family lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina, where Ben is a physical therapist, and Emily is a homemaker. 


Kolby Tackett was named Middle Tennessee Christian School’s new football coach. He coached in Florida the past four years at Oviedo High School and Mount Dora Christian Academy. In 2017, he was named Lake-Sumter County Coach of the Year and Florida Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year. 


Emily Spencer Carlson completed her master’s in educational leadership from Harding in 2017 and began teaching second grade in Bentonville (Arkansas) Public Schools. In 2018, she and her husband, Kurt (’09), lived in Melbourne, Australia, where she taught third-sixth grade in Victoria Public Schools. In 2019, the couple returned to Bentonville where she rejoined Bentonville Public Schools teaching fourth grade. In 2020, she was promoted to vice principal at Willowbrook Elementary School, the largest elementary school in the district with more than 900 students. She is the youngest administrator in her district. 

William Coy Hardin was named to the National Association of Realtors Class of 30 Under 30. He is owner/broker with Habitat Land Co. in Searcy. 


Joshua Jones has been named safeties coach at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He comes to UAPB after spending the previous three seasons at University of South Alabama (2018-20) as cornerbacks coach. 


Tim Wagner has been hired as Valley City State University lead assistant men’s basketball coach. He worked the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Bemidji State University. He recently earned his master’s degree in sports management from Winona State University. 


Jessa Heavin is the family and consumer science/4H county extension agent for Van Buren County, Arkansas.

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