The recipient of the Mary and Ira A. Brumley Award for Religious Education is Karen Swales.
Karen Swales has served as a minister to families with children at First United Methodist Church in Springdale since 2003. In this position, she develops and implements Christian Education programs for children ages birth through 5th grade and their families and conducts weekly children's chapel services.
She received bachelor's degrees in elementary and special education and later, a Master of Education degree in special education, all from the University of Arkansas. She has also completed coursework for a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
Prior to her current position, Swales was a special education teacher. She has also been an instructor for courses in special education at the University of Arkansas and John Brown University. In 2000, she was honored by the Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children as Teacher of the Year.
Swales is active in the music community in Northwest Arkansas, participating as a member of the Decatur Community Choir, Northwest Arkansas Symphony Community Choir, and Springdale First United Methodist Church Chancel and Hand bell Choirs.
She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, American Association on Mental Retardation, and Arkansas Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. She Also Volunteers for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) and AIDS Resource Center of Northwest Arkansas
Her Service to the church has included serving as a teacher of various Sunday school classes; delegate to Arkansas United Methodist Annual Conference; various United Methodist district offices; counselor at Camp Tanako; and she is currently the Arkansas United Methodist Conference Children's Coordinator.
The recipient of the Ethel K. Millar Award for Religion and Social Awareness is Doni Martin.
Doni Martin is a teacher, director, and CEO at The Doni Martin Center for Developmental Services.
Martin has been an active board member of Kiwanis Club of Pocahontas, where she was responsible for developing and implementing the provision of a copyrighted activity pack for children in doctors' waiting rooms. She has chaired Corning United Methodist Church's annual Christmas project to provide gifts anonymously to low income families for 30 years. And since 1987, she and her family have organized and hosted a Thanksgiving Day dinner for the community.
For the past 11 years, she has also served as a part-time EMT volunteer for Corning Ambulance Service.
Martin received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a Master of Arts degree in Preschool Education of the Handicapped and Learning Disabilities from the University of Memphis.
She is a recipient of the Augustana College Horizon Alumni Award, 2006 Extra Mile Award from the Arkansas Parent Advisory Council, and 2011 Pocahontas Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year.
She has held various positions in the church. She currently serves as president of the local United Methodist Women and as a member of the group’s Conference Committee on Nominations. She has served as a Lay Speaker since 1982, assisted with coordination of the Imagine Justice Summit in 2011, and recently completed a term as Chair of the North Arkansas and Arkansas Conference Board of Church and Society.
Martin served as the 2012 Vacation Bible School director at her church. She has taught Sunday school in all elementary levels and is currently the Pre-K teacher. She sings in the choir, plays in the hand bell choir, and has given the children’s message weekly since 1988.
The recipient of the Youth Minister of the Year Award is Rod Hocott.
Rod Hocott has dedicated the past 44 years to youth ministry. He currently serves as Minister to Middle School Youth and Assistant to the Youth Minister at First United Methodist Church in Conway.
Hocott received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in music education/music therapy from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
His youth ministry experience includes stints at First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith; Osawatomie State Hospital in Osawatomie, Kan.; St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock; First United Methodist Church in Springdale; and the Arkansas Conference Ministry Office.
Hocott is currently a member of the Design Team for the Perkins School of Youth Ministry, which he chaired in 2007. He has also served on the General Board of Discipleship for the Curriculum Resource Committee, Youth Division; as co-chair of Community Life for the YOUTH 2007 Management Team; and as co-coordinator for South Central Jurisdiction Youth Ministry Organization (JYMO).
He and his wife, Rev. Gail Davis Hocott, have three children – Jefferson, Jordan, and Lanier; four grandchildren; two dogs; and one cat.
He enjoys going to movies, singing with the River City Men’s Chorus, acting, reading, playing with his grandchildren, playing with the dogs, yard work, and traveling.