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HELENA-WEST HELENA — Helena-West Helena’s Cathy Cunningham will be honored as the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas’s 2010 Woman of the Year in Philanthropy at the organization’s annual Power of the Purse luncheon. The event will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 15 in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

WFA Board President Cindy Conger refers to Cunningham as a “major force in the Helena-West Helena area.”
“While Cathy prefers to downplay her efforts, her reputation for trying to better her community is one of long standing,” stated Conger. “No one who knows her denies that her efforts are changing lives in education, historic preservation and economic development.”

As community development coordinator for Southern Bancorp Southern Partners, Cunningham is actively involved in helping develop a Civil War interpretation plan. She also serves as chair of the Helena-West Helena Advertising and Promotion Commission, a member of the Phillips County Community College Foundation Board and a Southern Bancorp board member.

Conger says many credit Cunningham as a driving force in the creation of the Delta Cultural Center and the KIPP Delta Preparatory School. She helped with the purchase of land and the development of the Helena River Park and MarketPlace. According to Conger, she also helped establish Main Street Arkansas and Main Street Helena programs.

Cunningham and her husband, Ernest, have lived in Helena-West Helena since 1978.

Little Rock native Snow Ledbetter Moen will be the keynote speaker for the luncheon. Moen and her brother, Grainer Ledbetter are scheduled to accept the first Brownie Ledbetter Civic Engagement Award. The award will be presented in honor of their mother, a supporter and founding member of the WFA, who died in March.

Since its inception in 1998, the WFA has awarded more than $150,000 in grants to organizations statewide. Grant recipients for the 2010 cycle will be announced at the Power of the Purse luncheon.

Reservations for the luncheon may be confirmed by calling Amanda Potter Cole at 501-244-9740 or by going online at