Mary Acklin, retired owner of Acklin Rental Property, is the recipient of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Together with five other award winners, Acklin accepted the award at the Chamber’s annual Minority Enterprise Development Awards event, presented by Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.
The awards reception took place Monday, Sept. 25, at Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center at the University of Central Arkansas. Through four categories of awards, the event celebrated the achievements of minority entrepreneurs and professionals as well as the individuals and organizations committed to advancing minority business enterprise. Community members nominated individuals or organizations for each category.
Held in partnership with UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall, the MED Awards included a special appearance by Tania León, composer of the Little Rock Nine opera. León spoke to the attendees about her work-in-progress before taking the stage at Reynolds with Harvard professor, filmmaker and literary scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. All MED ticket holders received admission to the “Turning History into Art” program featuring Gates and León, which included a live preview of the opera.
In addition to honoring Mary Acklin with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chamber presented the Advocate for Opportunity Award to Osmar Garcia of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company; the Outstanding Young Minority Professional Award to Crystal Floyd of Acxiom and Xochilt Hawks of Arkansas Property Brokers – Hawks Family Team; and the Outstanding Minority Business of the Year Award to Francisco Yanez and Samuel Ramirez of Las Delicias. Simmons Bank, Acxiom and Aramark were MED Advocates.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary Acklin
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates high standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishment over a sustained period of time. The award is granted to an individual who has played an integral role in the creative, technical or professional progress of minority business development over the course of their life.
The personification of community service for more than 50 years, Mary Acklin has offered support to her neighbors through a variety of outlets. Through her family rental property business, students of area colleges were housed long before residence halls decorated the campuses. Acklin recognized a need in the community to support single mothers as well as the homeless and provided shelter and support along with encouragement and a loving smile.
Acklin was listed among the International Who’s Who of Business and was recognized in the Professional Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. She’s a member of the Mount Gale Missionary Baptist Church, the Pink Rose Arts and Civic Club, served as president of the Order of the Eastern Star for 15 years and earned the title of Worthy Matron. With her late husband, Troy, Acklin has five daughters, five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.
Advocate for Opportunity: Osmar Garcia
The Advocate for Opportunity Award is presented to an individual, organization or business that has demonstrated significant accomplishments in advocating for minority business enterprises.
As a financial advisor for nearly 10 years, Osmar Garcia assists individuals and businesses with overall strategic planning. Working solely off recommendations, Garcia and his team work closely with their clients to create relationships of trust and understanding. Garcia serves on a variety of committees and nonprofit boards within the community and his church.
Outstanding Young Minority Professional
The Outstanding Young Minority Professional Award is presented to a minority business owner or professional between the ages of 21-39 who has committed himself or herself to business and community service.
When looking at her personal growth and accomplishments, Crystal Floyd credits her service to the community, adding that her role as engagement manager at Acxiom allows her to execute her passion at a corporate level every day. Floyd is involved with area Boys & Girls Clubs and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Soul Food Café among many other organizations.
Practicing real estate for nearly five years, Xochilt Hawks prides herself in providing clients with an enjoyable and empowering experience as they buy or sell their home. Her bilingual skills have awarded her the opportunity to expand her client base, serving a larger portion of the community through her work and service to the community. Hawks is involved with the children’s ministry at her church and also plays the role of a room-mom at her children’s school.
Outstanding Minority Business of the Year: Las Delicias
The Outstanding Minority Business of the Year is presented to a minority-owned business whose practices have had a significant impact on the community.
Offering the highest quality of homemade gourmet ice cream and paletas, Las Delicias celebrates one year of operation along with the sales mark of more than 15,000 popsicles sold. Owned by Francisco Yanez and Samuel Ramirez, its staff of eight prides themselves on being a family oriented business, greeting each customer with a smile. Supporting a variety of church, school and community groups through local activities and festivals, Las Delicias has played a major role in its community in a short time.
Conway Area Chamber of Commerce
For more than 125 years, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has served as the voice of the Conway, Arkansas, business community. It represents the interests of more than 1,200 members by promoting economic development in Conway and Faulkner County, advocating a pro-business climate at all levels of government, supporting the county’s educational institutions, and establishing and executing a vision for the community. To learn more about the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, visit ConwayChamber.org.