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Commissioner Bios

Bryan J. Barnhouse

Bryan J. Barnhouse

Commission Chairman

Bryan's passion is international, economic, and community development. He helps diverse people develop and implement effective solutions and partnerships for a more sustainable world. He currently directs the Southeast Arkansas Growth Initiative (SGI) - an economic and workforce development program to help the Arkansas Delta become more competitive in the global economy.

Most recently, Bryan served as the International Project Manager for Asia at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), the official global business development agency for the State of Arkansas. He oversaw programs on foreign direct investment recruitment and trade opportunities with Asia. He joined AEDC as the Community Development Consultant for Northwest Arkansas.

Previously, Bryan worked in Washington, DC, as a Project Manager with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), which creates excellence in local governance by advocating and developing the professional management of local government worldwide. He coordinated business development activities with the private sector and federal government for international and domestic capacity-building programs.

He has worked at the local, state, and federal levels of government: the Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Economic Development, the California Trade and Commerce Agency in Sacramento, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, DC. He understands complex intergovernmental environments and values facilitating effective partnerships with the private sector. As a consultant with Consensus Planning Group in Los Angeles, California, he supported the management of public involvement programs around land use, transportation, and technology initiatives.

Bryan holds a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He resides in downtown Little Rock with his wife, Jennifer, and their dog, Gracie Ann Porkchop, and serves on the South Main Street (SoMa) board of directors and City of Little Rock Sister Cities Commission, where he is the treasurer and liaison with Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Deun A.Ogunlana

Deun A.Ogunlana

Commission Vice-Chairman

Ms. Deun A. Ogunlana is the founder and CEO of African Women's Health Project International, a non-profit corporation that is helping to collect and distribute medical equipment and supplies to women and children in Africa.

A journalist by trade, Ogunlana is the publisher and chief editor of the spiritual-based magazine publication called "Virtuous Woman" magazine. She is currently working on a book that will feature fashions over the years as well as a Wedding Planning Book of Culture and Customs. Ms. Deun A. Ogunlana is the outreach coordinator of Calvary Bread of Life Ministries International, and owner of Bridal Blessings - a complete wedding coordination boutique. She is mother of three beautiful girls - Lola 20, Bola 14, and Shola 6.

Ms. Ogunlana graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1991 with a B.A. in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations. She has completed graduate studies in International Relations from Southern California University for Professional Studies in Santa Ana, California. She has received numerous volunteer and community service awards and recently received the National Leadership Award as Honorary Chairman of NRCC.

Robert Coon

Robert Coon


Robert is a Partner at Impact Management Group. He is a registered lobbyist, and represents clients before the Arkansas General Assembly, Executive Branch, and state agencies. Robert also develops strategic communications, provides grassroots, third party and media outreach, and manages the daily operation of IMG's public policy and issue advocacy campaigns.

In March of 2008, Robert was appointed to the Arkansas Service Commission by Governor Mike Beebe. He served as Chairman of the Commission during the 2010 calendar year. In 2010, Arkansas Business included Robert on their "40 Under 40" list of intriguing business and political leaders who bear watching. In January of 2011, Robert was appointed to the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

Robert has extensive experience in the energy, healthcare, technology, financial services, automotive and insurance industries. Prior to joining Impact Management Group, he was an Account Manager at the DCI Group, a full-service public and government affairs firm in Washington, D.C. While at DCI, Robert managed public affairs campaigns for clients of all sizes, including Fortune 50 corporations, small and medium-sized companies, trade associations, and non-profit organizations.

A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Robert graduated summa cum laude from Presbyterian College (Clinton, SC) with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in both Business Administration and Political Science.

He and his wife Lindsay are members of Fellowship Bible Church. They have two daughters, Lucy and Sally, and live in Little Rock.

Linda Brown

Linda Brown

In January, 2002, Linda W. Brown was appointed as a commissioner to the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission and served as Chairman of the commission in 2005-2006. Linda first became involved with Sister Cities when she assisted in planning and taking part in an official delegation with Mayor Lottie Shackleford to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and our Sister City of Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1988. She serves at liaison to our Sister City Changchun, PRC.

Linda has a strong interest in international cultures and history. She graduated in 1983 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a B.A. focused on language and International Studies. During her undergraduate studies, she traveled widely in Europe and elsewhere, and earned a major number of hours in the German language.

Linda has been involved in the community by serving as President of the Board of the Bess Chisum Stephens YWCA in 1988-89 and as a volunteer for various organizations.

She worked in the travel business from 1982-2002, and since then has been Managing Director of Accademia dell'Arte, a school for the performing arts located in Arezzo, Italy. The school is a study abroad program in theatre, music, and the visual arts.

Lee Frazier

Lee Frazier

Lee Frazier was born in Washington, D.C., and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of St. Vincent Rehabilitation Hospital in Sherwood, Arkansas. Lee attended primary schools in New Orleans and Washington. He achieved excellence in academics as well as athletics. He graduated from Loyola University (Bachelors of Business Administration) and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (Masters of Public Health and Masters of Hospital Administration)

Lee has served the community in three major areas:

  • Healthcare: Lee has provided leadership for some of the largest medical centers in the country. Lee has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of: Charity Hospital, New Orleans, Harlem Medical Center, New York, New Orleans General Hospital, New Orleans and Provident Medical Center, Chicago. The Executive Vice President, St. Vincent Medical Center, Little Rock, Vice President, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Pine Bluff, and Vice President, Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also appointed Lee Director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Presently, Lee serves as Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of St. Vincent Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Public Service: Lee was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives; Vice Chairman, Pulaski County Facilities Board (Alltel Arena); Commissioner, Arkansas Economic Development; President, Little Rock Heart Association; Treasurer, Little Rock Port Authority; Chairman, Credential Committee, Arkansas Medical Board; Member, Federal Reserve Bank of Little Rock; Member, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and Member, Union Rescue Mission Board. He is currently serving as Chairperson for the Diocese of Little Rock School Re-organization Committee.
  • Education: Lee serves on the faculties of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, College of Public Health; University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Health Services Administration; University of Arkansas, Graduate Business; Roosevelt University, Department of Health Services; Cornell University Department of Health and Policy Management; Louisiana State University, School of Medicine; and Tulane University, School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health.

Lee is a member of several civic, social and religious organizations, including: Knights of Columbus; Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International; Pi Boulé; American College of Healthcare Executives; Alumni, Leadership Little Rock.

Lee is married to Deborah Lombard, RN, Director, Health Services Commission. Celebrating 40 years of marriage, they have 5 daughters, and five grandchildren.

Lee enjoys fishing, Deborah enjoys reading, and together they are pond-keepers, play in the soil and seek time alone. Both Lee and Deborah are deeply involved with church and the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Keith Lacewell

Keith Lacewell

In December, 2008, Keith Lacewell was appointed as a commissioner to the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission. Keith has always been interested in International business and has traveled extensively around the world in both business and pleasure. Keith first became interested in Sister Cities while visiting Ragusa, Sicily, Little Rock's Sister City in Italy, while there on a wine sourcing trip.

Keith is the owner of Lacewell Global Marketing, Inc. (LGM). LGM is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, US. It is a sales, marketing, and sourcing company specializing, but not limited to, the wine, beer and spirits industry. Currently LGM is working in China, Japan, Central America, Mexico, South America. and the US. LGM is also a co-owner of Hengwei Battery USA, LLC. (HB). HB is a provider of private label batteries to large retailers around the world.

Mr. Lacewell is a fourth generation, native Arkansan and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Communication and International Business from Arkansas State University. He resides in Little Rock with his wife, Michelle and two sons, Chase and Cole. He serves on the City of Little Rock Sister Cities Commission, and also works closely with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas World Trade Center in promoting global trade. He is the Liaison to Changchun, China.

Steve Michell

Steve Michell

Emma Jane Ohnemus

Born and raised in Northeastern US, living in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Husband served over 20 years in USAF retiring as LtCol. During that time, lived in Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, California, and Germany. Received BS in Economics and Business Administration from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas, and JD at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School.

Is currently retired after working at the Arkansas Court of Appeals for 20 years. Prior to attending law school led an active life having been an elementary school teacher, computer systems analyst, State revenue estimator, and administrative division manager of a department of Arkansas state government.

Has served as a past president of the St. Vincent Hospital Auxiliary, a past Honorary Squadron Commander of the 714th Training Squadron, LRAFB, a former treasurer of the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission, and past Committee Chairman for the Commission's former sister city of Mons, Belgium. Currently is serving as a community representative on the Union Pacific Citizens Advisory Panel, the treasurer of LRAFB Community Council, a member of the LRAFB Community Council Executive Board, and an active volunteer at St. Vincent Hospital.

Carolyn Witherspoon

Carolyn Witherspoon

As a business owner and lifelong citizen of Little Rock, Carolyn Witherspoon has an obvious interest in the success and growth of Little Rock. Carolyn feels that Little Rock profits from exposure to other cities' culture, economy, history, and goals. In addition, the exposure can result in opportunities for the development of new business for Little Rock.

Carolyn has served on numerous boards including the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Foundation Fund, Women's Foundation of Arkansas, Women and Children First, League of Women Voters (Pulaski County), Arkansas Women Executives, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Arkansas Women's History Institute, and VOCALS. As an arbitrator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a member of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), Carolyn is involved with international legal issues and programs from time to time. She is a member of numerous legal organizations including the American Law Institute and American Arbitration Association Roster of Employment Arbitrators and Mediators and the Large Complex Case Panel. Carolyn is a graduate of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute. She served as a member of the Little Rock Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for 14 years. She also was a member of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission. Carolyn has served in a number of leadership roles in some of the above organizations and the Arkansas Bar Association (President), Pulaski County Bar Association (President), and the American Bar Association (House of Delegates).

Carolyn earned her B.A. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She received her J.D. with honors from the University of Little Rock at Little Rock. Carolyn is a Director at the law offices of Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C.

The Arkansas Bar Association awarded Carolyn the Charles L. Carpenter Memorial Award in 2005. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, America's Leading Business Lawyers, Who's Who Legal USA - Management Labour & Employment, Corporate Counsel magazine, Best Lawyers - Labor & Employment, and Mid-South Super Lawyers in Employment & Labor Law.

Robert Zeiler

Robert Zeiler

Robert Zeiler is employed by BHP Billiton and serves as a Sr. Manager in the Little Rock Corporate Development office. He is a graduate of St. Joseph High School in Conway and obtained a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee, and a M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Arkansas.

Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Zeiler was employed for 5+ years by Andersen Consulting, a global management and information technology consulting firm. In 1999, he founded UtiliComm, Inc., a Birmingham, Alabama, based company which provided engineering consulting and specialized horizontal directional drilling services to customers in the utility and communications industries throughout the Southeastern U.S.

Zeiler currently serves on various boards and civic organizations, including the University of Arkansas Garrison Financial Institute, the Arkansas Gas Association, the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation of Arkansas Capital Corporation, the Faulkner County 4-H, the University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton’s Petroleum Advisory Board, and Little Rock’s Sister Cities Commission.

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