Whether it's in the areas of substance addiction, mental health problems, childhood issues or disabilities, Ann Patterson has helped improve the lives of thousands of Arkansans over the past three decades.
Patterson, a 1975 graduate who will receive the University of the Ozarks Alumni Association’s Achievement Award during Alumni Weekend in April, has been an educator, senior administrator and public policy advocate in Arkansas in the areas of early childhood, behavioral health, disabilities, health care and mental health care for more than 30 years.
Last year she was named director of the Arkansas Access to Recovery program, which followed a 10-year stint as state director of Arkansas Head Start. She has also led mental health care agencies, hospice programs and health care programs throughout the state during her career.
She is receiving the Alumni Achievement Award for years of dedicated service in her profession. The award will be presented during the Alumni Awards Banquet on April 20.
"I am honored to be receiving the Alumni Achievement Award and look forward to sharing time with family and friends who will be on campus to take part in many activities during the weekend," said Patterson, who earned a degree in business administration at Ozarks and who is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. "It means a great deal to me to be recognized by the Alumni Association, knowing that I am following in the footsteps of so many prestigious alumni who have been honored over time."
In her position as director of Arkansas Access to Recovery, Patterson oversees a staff of six professional staff and a provider network of approximately 100, including care coordinators and direct service treatment and recovery support providers. Over one-third of the providers are faith-based organizations.
"A major goal of mine is to expand and enhance non-traditional recovery support services for persons struggling with addiction disorders, with a focus on families with children, pregnant women and recently returning veterans," Patterson said.
During her time as director of the Arkansas Head Start Collaboration Office, one of her proudest accomplishments was the development and implementation of the Arkansas Early Childhood-Mental Health project, which continues today through the support of the Arkansas Division of Child Care & Early Childhood Education.
"This project focuses on consultation and education services for early childhood providers through the promotion of positive social-emotional development of preschool children and support for families and caregivers," Patterson said. "We also made great strides in improving quality early childhood education in Arkansas through increased state funding for pre-kindergarten programs and additional federal funding for Early Head Start, an increase in the number of community water systems with fluoride, and the formation of the Arkansas Association for Infant Mental Health."
Patterson said the key to successfully leading large state agencies is all about building relationships as well as keeping in mind the people they are trying to help.
"Many of the challenges in working with large, multiple agencies should also be viewed as opportunities for enhancing relationships and improving services for people we serve," she said. "I have found that many of us have much more in common, just different avenues by which we travel, to accomplish common goals. The key to success is about developing relationships and finding common ground."
It’s those relationships that have helped make Patterson’s career extremely rewarding.
"The people I have met and worked with over the years in the areas of early childhood, behavioral health, disabilities, health care and public policy have enriched my life through personal relationships and professional opportunities," she said. "I have been blessed with the support of my family, and likewise been blessed, more often than not, with great employers, who supported work-life balance, allowing me flexibility in time with my family. I truly feel this is such an important part of professional development and employer-employee relationships."
Patterson, who earned a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Arkansas Little Rock in 1985, said her education and involvement in student organizations at Ozarks helped forge her career success.
"The liberal arts education provided to me through Ozarks, my major in business administration, and my involvement in Phi Beta Lambda provided me with an excellent foundation for my diverse career spanning the past 35 years in a broad array of professional endeavors," she said.
Patterson, the daughter of long-time college business manager J.T. Patterson, said she basically grew up on the Ozarks campus.
"I have fond memories of my undergraduate time at Ozarks, from Phi Beta Lambda events, to playing dominoes with the senior citizens through Released Time in Community Service, from the great dances we enjoyed, to the basketball games, and memorable times with the Hole in the Wall Gang," she said. "I also treasure so many memories of growing up on campus -- watching my brother play football as an Ozarks Mountaineer, seeing Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks at a dance in the gym, storing my bicycle under the steps of the old Science Hall so I could ride on the sidewalk instead of the dirt road in Woodland, and the many friends I made over the years with faculty and staff kids. I was truly blessed through the dedication of my parents to live and love Ozarks even before I had the opportunity to gain a valuable education and experience through what we then knew as C of O."
For more information about Alumni Weekend 2012, please contact the Alumni Office at 479-979-1234.
Ann Patterson ’75 (center front) was awarded the Sister Pytlik Award at the Arkansas Kids Count Post-Legislative Conference in Little Rock in May 2011. The award is given every two years in honor of Sister Joan Pytlik and her inspirational advocacy efforts for Arkansas children and families. Patterson has been an agency administrator and public policy advocate for children and families as well as those with mental health issues, disabilities and other health issues for more than 30 years in Arkansas. Patterson will receive the U of O Alumni Association Achievement Award in April in recognition of her rewarding and impactful career. Those pictured with Ann include (from left) husband Max Snowden, brother Jack Patterson, son Scout, and cousin Beth DuVall.