Arkansas Access to Justice Board Members

J. Cliff McKinney II

Foundation Board Member

Managing Member
Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull, PLLC

B.A., 1999, Baylor University
M.P.A, 2002, University of Arkansas
J.D., cum laude, 2002, University of Arkansas School of Law
LL.M., 2003, Southern Methodist University

Cliff McKinney is a transactional attorney at Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC.  His primary practice is real estate law and business and regulatory matters related to real estate. Mr. McKinney has also been active in the legislative process, including serving on the Arkansas Bar Association’s Jurisprudence and Law Reform and Legislation Committees.

Mr. McKinney is currently serving his sixth term as Chair of the Real Estate Law Section of the Arkansas Bar Association.  In that capacity, he spearheaded the creation of the Arkansas Real Estate Review and currently serves as one of its editors.  Mr. McKinney served as the U.S. Green Building Council Arkansas Chapter’s Secretary and Treasurer and served on the Arkansas General Assembly’s Legislative Task Force on Sustainable Building Design and Practices.  He also serves on the state’s Old State House Commission.

Mr. McKinney is also involved in the academic side of real estate law.  Mr. McKinney is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law where he teaches Real Estate Finance and Real Estate Transaction Skills.  He has written a number of law review articles on real estate topics, including implied covenants, deed drafting, boundary by acquiescence, adverse possession and landlord/tenant rights. He chaired the committee for the third edition of the Standards for Examination of Real Estate Titles in Arkansas and authored the Arkansas chapter for an American Bar Association book on institutional land use controls.

Mr. McKinney is President of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas.  He served as Board Chair of Arkansas Rice Depot from 2008-2009 and remained active in the organization through 2015 when he served on the merger committee that resulted in Arkansas Rice Depot merging with Arkansas Foodbank to form the largest hunger relief agency in the state.  Mr. McKinney now serves on the board of Arkansas Foodbank.  Mr. McKinney chaired the Arkansas Bar Association 2011 Annual Meeting and the 2015 Mid-Year Meeting.  He currently serves on the Arkansas Bar Association’s Board of Governors and is a tenured member of the House of Delegates.

Sainabou Sonko

Foundation Board Member & Vice President

Associate, Mitchell Williams

B.A., Political Science & Sociology, DePauw University
J.D., Rutgers University

Ms. Sonko is an associate at Mitchell Williams in Little Rock, practicing in the firm’s litigation practice group. Previously she worked as a clerk for the Connecticut Superior Court and as research attorney in Georgia, focusing on employment, immigration and civil rights matters. Ms. Sonko has also taught Business Law and Legal Research and Writing.

In addition to her practice, Ms. Sonko is involved with the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers and the Muscular Dystrophy Legal Leaders. She has published pieces on human rights issues, including articles on modern-day slavery in Ghana and dowry murders in India.  Ms. Sonko is a native of Gambia and is fluent in Wolof.

Hillis Schild

Foundation Board Member

Vice President-Community Affairs, Regions Bank
B.A. Accounting, Ouachita Baptist University

Hillis Schild is a long-time resident of Little Rock where she began working in the banking industry over 27 years ago.  As the Community Affairs Manager for Regions Bank her territory includes the State of Arkansas and a few counties in Texas.  She describes her work as a being bridge-builder which assists in connecting mainstream financial services and products to organizations which serve predominately low- and moderate-income individuals.

She has a passion for moving Arkansas forward through strengthening the quality of life for low-income Arkansans.  She provides technical and financial advice through service on the following organizations’ board of directors or advisory committees: Memphis Area CRA Association, Western Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition, Arkansas Coalition for Housing and Neighborhood Growth and Empowerment, Southside Main Street Project, Inc., Junior Achievement of Central Arkansas Advisory Board, Arkansas Consolidated Plan Advisory Committee, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Community Development Advisory Council and the Heartland Renaissance Low-Income Advisory Committee. Previously, she served in leadership positions with the following organizations: City of Little Rock Land Bank Commission, University District Development Corporation, Pulaski County Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, Mid-South Delta LISC, Arkansas Mississippi Minority Supplier Development Council, Argenta Community Development Corporation, and The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas.

Little Rock has been her home for most of her life although she was born in Memphis, TN.   She is a proud graduate of Little Rock Central High School and Ouachita Baptist University.  Her husband is Stuart, they have two “four-legged kids” and she enjoys all aspects of the Natural State including gardening, and fly fishing.

Brian Clary

Board Member

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
22nd Judicial District of Arkansas
B.A., Religious Studies, Rhodes College
J.D., University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

Mr. Clary is a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Saline County where he handles a general felony case load for the office. Outside of his practice, he is actively involved with professional organizations. Mr. Clary is the Immediate Past President and the former Treasurer of the William H. Bowen School of Law Alumni Association. He is a member of the Board of Governors and House of Delegates for the Arkansas Bar Association. He has also served as the CLE Committee Chair, Young Lawyers Section Chair, and Annual Meeting Chair for the Bar Association. In addition to his service to the legal profession, Mr. Clary has also dedicated his time and efforts to serving as a Co-Chair of the Soup Sunday Committee for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

Aaron Brooks

Foundation Board Member

Associate General Counsel, Bank OZK
Harvard Law School, 2008
University of Central Arkansas, summa cum laude, 2005

Aaron Brooks

Gwendolyn Rucker

Foundation Board Member

B.A., Political Science, Spelman College
J.D., University of Arkansas at Little Rock
William H. Bowen School of Law
M.P.A., University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Ms. Rucker is a career law clerk to United States Magistrate Judge Jerome Kearney. Previously, she clerked for retired Chief United States Magistrate Judge Henry Jones, Jr. and retired Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Olly Neal. Immediately preceding her federal clerkships, Ms. Rucker was a staff attorney for the Arkansas Supreme Court Office of Professional Conduct where she handled attorney discipline matters and served as attorney liaison
for the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

Ms. Rucker has also taught Legal Profession and Criminal Procedure. She is the first graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s joint JD/MPA program, having completed the MPA program with high honors and induction into the Phi Alpha Alpha Honors Society. She also received the Robert Sarver Award, which is presented annually to one graduate student who is adjudged outstanding on the basis of character, scholarship, leadership, and citizenship.

Ms. Rucker has served in numerous capacities within the Arkansas Bar Association and has been recognized for her bar work with the Frank Elcan Award, Judith Ryan Gray Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, the President’s Award, and several Golden Gavel awards. She has served in various capacities, including as Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, Annual Meeting Chair, Membership Development Chair, Leadership Academy Chair, and Long Range Planning Chair. She is a tenured member of the House of Delegates and has served on the Board of Governors, and the Legal Forms Committee. Ms. Rucker currently serves as a member of both the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Legal Hall of Fame Task Force. She is also an Arkansas Bar Foundation Fellow and currently
serves on the Arkansas Bar Foundation Board of Directors.

Ms. Rucker has also served in several leadership positions on the national level with the American Bar Association, including as the District Representative for Arkansas and Oklahoma on the Young Lawyer Division’s Executive Council and as Liaisons to the Center on Professional Responsibility and the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPSLD). She is a former editor of the GPSLD newsletter.

In addition to her other activities, Ms. Rucker serves as Membership Co-Chairman for the Beta Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is a member of the W. Harold Flowers Law Society.

Ms. Rucker was appointed to the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation Board in 2021.

Harry Light

Board Member

Partner
Friday, Eldredge & Clark
B.A. University of Florida
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law

Harry Light is a native of Islamorada, Florida who now lives in Cammack Village with his wife, Van. Harry’s practice includes bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and trademark/copyright applications. He has also been an active member of the Arkansas Bar Association, having served in the House of Delegates and as Chairman of the Board of Governors. Harry’s charitable work has included servin on the boards of the Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals and the Humane Society of Pulaski County.

Debby Nye

Foundation Board Member

Partner, Kutak Rock
B.A., Political Science/Sociology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
J.D., William H. Bowen School of Law

Debby Nye’s practice is focused on health law, she assists healthcare providers with issues involving their general operational activities and in maintaining compliance with the Medicare and Medicaid program regulations. She previously worked at the Arkansas Healthcare Association and the Department of Human Services. She is a member and past chair of the Arkansas Bar Association’s Health Law Section.

Chad Owens

Board Member

Attorney
Snellgrove, Langley, Culpepper, Williams & Mullally
J.D. University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law
B.A., Philosophy, magna cum laude, Hendrix College

Kristin Pawlik

Board Member

B.A., 1996, University of Arkansas
J.D., 1999, University of Arkansas School of Law

Kristin L. Pawlik is a native of Bentonville and began practicing law in Benton County upon her admission to the Bar in 1999. She worked for the Public Defender’s Office in the 19th Judicial District for over four years, most recently as Chief Deputy Public Defender. Kristin joined Keith, Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik in October of 2003 and concentrates her practice in the areas of domestic relations, family law, criminal defense and employment law.  She became a partner in 2008.

Ms. Pawlik belongs to the Benton County Bar Association where she served as President in 2007. She is also a member of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association and the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  She also serves on the Arkansas Bar Association’s Board of Governors.  In 2009 Kristin was recognized by the Arkansas Access To Justice Commission as the Arkansas Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.

Stacey Pectol

Foundation Board Member

Clerk of Courts
Arkansas Supreme Court
Hendrix College
J.D., William H. Bowen School of Law

Ms. Stacey Pectol graduated from Hendrix College and the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. She began her career as a law clerk to then Chief Judge Donald L. Corbin at the Arkansas Court of Appeals and continued as his clerk when he was elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Ms. Pectol was hired as in-house counsel for Express Human Resources, Inc., where she concentrated on labor and employment law, as well as supervised and managed the legal department. After a break in her career to begin a family, Ms. Pectol returned to the Justice Building as Justice Corbin’s law clerk. Ms. Pectol was appointed to the position as Clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on July 1, 2014.

Ms. Pectol was elected to the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks on August 10, 2017. She has previously served on the boards of the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers and the Asbury Christian Child Development Center. She is a former Vice-Chairman of the Asbury United Methodist Church Board of Trustees.

Victoria Smith

Foundation Board Member

Senior Associate General Counsel
Walmart Stores, Inc.
B.A., Texas State University
M.A., University of Arkansas
J.D., University of Tulsa

Victoria Smith is a Senior Associate General Counsel for Walmart Stores, Inc. She currently handles employment litigation and counseling matters for Walmart. She has worked for the Walmart legal department for 17 years, in a variety of capacities, including tort litigation, employment class action litigation, single plaintiff employment litigation and employment counseling for field and home office HR professionals. Prior to joining Walmart, Ms. Smith worked in private practice handling primarily family law and bankruptcy matters.

Ms. Smith has an undergraduate degree from Texas State, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a JD from the University of Tulsa. Ms. Smith also serves on the Helen Walton Children’s Enrichment Center board.

John Thomas Shepherd

Foundation Board Member

Attorney at Law
J.D., magna cum laude, 2013, University of Arkansas School of Law
B.A., 2009, Rice University

John Thomas Shepherd is a partner at Shepherd & Shepherd, P.A., where he maintains a diverse practice. John Thomas concentrates his practice on the areas of civil litigation, business and corporate matters, banking, employment, estate planning, and real estate. John Thomas routinely represents individuals and businesses in both state and federal court, where his clients include individuals, non-profits, small businesses, and large corporations.

A native of El Dorado, John Thomas previously served as Prosecuting Attorney for the 13th Judicial District after being appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson. During his time as Prosecuting Attorney he oversaw the office’s prosecution of all criminal cases in Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita, and Union counties.

Jonathan Warren

Foundation Board Member

Attorney, Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton
B.A., University of Arkansas at Little Rock
J.D., William H. Bowen School of Law

A life-long Arkansas resident, Jonathan Warren is an attorney at Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton. Previously, he had worked as a law clerk to an Arkansas Supreme Court Justice, a deputy prosecuting attorney, and an Assistant Arkansas Attorney General.  As an Eagle Scout, he remains active in Boy Scouts of America, serving on the Executive Board of the Quapaw Area Council. He is also an active supporter of the Historic Arkansas Museum, the UA Little Rock Alumni Association, and the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

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