Friday, March 6, 2020

New Commissioners Join Arkansas History Commission

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently appointed Dr. Shawn Fisher of Searcy, Dr. Brady Banta of Jonesboro and Heather Nelson of North Little Rock to the seven-member Arkansas History Commission. All seats on the commission are now filled.

“We are pleased to have a full commission and look forward to working with new and longstanding commissioners to make sure the Arkansas State Archives remains the go-to resource for Arkansas history,” said Dr. David Ware, state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives.

The Arkansas History Commission, which is an advisory board to the State Archives, is dedicated to helping preserve and promote Arkansas history. The new commissioners come from diverse backgrounds. 

Dr. Brady Banta
Dr. Banta is an archivist at the Dean B. Ellis Library at Arkansas State University and serves as associate director of the Heritage Studies PhD. Program. He started at the university in 1997. He previously served as the archivist and special collections librarian at Louisiana State University of Medicine at Shreveport. He served as president of the Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association from 1996 to 1997. He replaced Commissioner Bob McCarley, whose commission had expired in 2019. McCarley had continued to serve on the commission until a replacement was found. Banta’s commission will expire Jan. 14, 2026.

Dr. Shawn Fisher
Dr. Fisher is an associate professor of history at Harding University. He earned the James L. Foster and Billy W. Beason Award for 2013 for the best dissertation in Arkansas history from the Arkansas Historical Association. Fisher, whose research includes American history, military history and Southern history, earned his bachelor’s degree at Harding University and his doctorate at the University of Memphis. His work has garnered several awards, including The Major L. Wilson Graduate Paper Prize from the University of Memphis in 2008.

“I’m humbled to be part of the commission, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to help with the important mission to protect and manage Arkansas history and heritage,” Dr. Fisher said.

Dr. Fisher previously served as chair of the Arkansas World War I Centennial Committee until the committee disbanded in 2018. He currently reviews monument requests for Arkansas Heritage. He replaced Commissioner Mary Dillard, whose commission expired this past January. His commission will expire Jan. 14, 2027.

Heather Nelson
Nelson is co-founder and president of Seal Solar, an energy solutions firm. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business and her MBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Nelson replaced Commissioner Jimmy Bryant, who left the commission to become director of Arkansas Heritage, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Nelson’s commission will expire Jan. 14, 2024.