1. CAHRA was founded in 1951 as the Arkansas Personnel Association and affiliated with the Society of Human Resources Management in 1967. This first HR association in the state and lead the way in forming other chapters which total seven currently.
  2. Superior Merit Award winning chapter for 36 consecutive years. Second longest consecutive Superior Merit chapter in the US.
  3. Received the Pinnacle Award in 1997 the highest award given to a chapter for innovation in advancing the HR profession.
  4. The primary purpose of CAHRA is to be a recognized leader in human resources management by:
    • Providing high quality, dynamic and responsible programs  and services to our members.
    • Being the proactive voice of the profession on human resources management at the national, state, and local level.
    • Providing leadership opportunities through volunteer service that will enhance both professional and personal growth.
    • Establishing relationships within the community that will make a positive impact and contribution to the quality of life for our community.
  5. Many of our chapter leaders have served at the State, regional and national level on committees and board including the Chair of SHRM
  6. Many outreach programs into the community including local schools, job fair, women shelter center, etc.
  7. Have initiated and been very active in Legislative Affairs to passing bills affecting employers in Ark.


On January 10, 1952, a group of some 16 professional personnel managers from Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Benton, Camden, and El Dorado gathered in El Dorado to install Frank Duff, personnel manager of the Arkansas Gazette, as the first president at the inaugural meeting of the Personnel Association of Arkansas, now called Central Arkansas Human Resources Association.  Some of the men, particularly those in the Little Rock area, had been meeting informally from time to time for several months, and a few of them had even been meeting several years.  At that time there were very few companies in Arkansas that employed full time personnel managers, much less a staff of professional men and women in the areas now generally handled by professional human resources personnel  These were the days before OSHA, ERISA, pollution control legislation, Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Leave Act.  There was no Equal Opportunity legislation, no Affirmative Action, and no issues of hiring on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin.  Sexual harassment or other kinds of employee mistreatment had to be flagrant before it caught much public attention.  The human resources professional at that time dealt primarily with employment, personnel policies, salary administration, and wage and hour laws.  Workers compensation and unemployment Compensation were part of the system, but both programs were in their infancy, and not nearly so complicated and controversial as they are today.  Labor contracts often were negotiated by lawyers or operations managers rather than human resources professionals.  There were very few seminars available in what are now considered human resources issues.

The three primary issues that probably brought these men together were labor relations, recruiting, and salary administration.  Noting that 14 of the 16 identified as charter members represented manufacturing firms or large utilities, it is easy to understand that labor relations was a critical issue for these men.  Post World War II brought many changes into the work place, including more professionalism in the general areas then known as personnel management.  Operations management began to look to its professional personnel managers to assume a host of other areas such as labor relations, safety, and governmental affairs.  Personnel management was changing from an administrative function to a staff and professional position.

To the credit of these 16 men who have been identified as charter members, they saw the signs on the horizon of the changing work place and recognized the need to learn and to grow by sharing experiences through association with others facing similar issues.  Working in conjunction with the University of Arkansas Extension Service, one semester courses were established, such as "Personnel, Administration", taught by Claude Hefley, then personnel manager of Crow Burlingame; and "Labor Relations", taught by Maurice Mitchell, then a young attorney, who now heads one of the most prestigious law firms in  Arkansas.

Growth was slow in the early years because there were not many full time personnel managers.  As the only such association in the state, membership grew to about 35 members in the early 1960's, and to about 65 by the mid 1960's, with members coming from as far as Forrest City, Newport, Russellville, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, El Dorado, and Camden.

Female personnel managers were scarce in the early days.  However, during the 1950's the first three female members came in -  Evelyn Cox, of Blass Department Store, Reggie Greene, of M. M. Cohn Department Store, and Dolores Johnson of  University Hospital.  For a number of years these women, plus Ruby Stone of the Arkansas State Hospital, remained the only female members in an organization which today has a majority female membership.  Bess Hester Campbell, of First Pyramid Life, became the first female president in 1982.

Significant growth and changes occurred in the association, keeping pace with the changing work place during its 50 year history.  Some of the noteworthy events include:

  • 1955 - Addressed the problem of physician charges when  workers compensation or group insurance were  involved.
  • 1957 - Emphasis on membership education, as seen in courses outlined above.
  • 1960 - Organization moved from an education and discussion group to an organization that takes aggressive stands on State and National legislation.
  • 1963 - Delegation went to Fort Smith to encourage formation of a northwest Arkansas association.  It resulted in organizations in Fort Smith and Fayetteville.
  • 1964 - Annual seminar initiated, replacing occasional seminars or classes.
  • 1967 - The Arkansas Personnel Association affiliated with the American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA), now named the Society for Human Resource  Management (SHRM).
  • 1971 - The first newsletter, "The Interview", was introduced.
  • 1973 - The Outstanding Member Award was initiated.
  • 1974 - The Association won the Superior Merit Award from SHRM, the first of 35 consecutive Superior Merit Awards won by the chapter through 2008.
  • 1976 - First SHRM student chapter in Arkansas organized at UALR.
  • 1978 - Study program established to prepare members for SHRM certification testing.
  • 1983 - Second SHRM student chapter organized at UCA.
  • 1985 - In conjunction with other human resources associations in operation across the state, the "All Arkansas Personnel Conference" was initiated.
  • 1986 - The first Legislative Lobbyist Program was established.
  • 1989 - A formal student intern program was implemented.
  • 1990 - A third SHRM student chapter was established at Henderson State University.
  • 1992-A new professional code of conduct was designed and passed by CAHRA membership.
  • 1995 - Education and diversity initiatives were begun.
  • 1997 - The "Rising Star" award to recognize an outstanding new member was initiated, and co-sponsoring an area  job fair was implemented.
  • 1999 - "The Quality in Hiring Act", for which the association worked so hard, became Act 1474 during the 82nd  Arkansas General Assembly.
  • 2001 - The "Workplace Violence Act" became Act 1084.
  • 2004 - CAHRA received the Superior Merit Award for 30 years in a row.
  • 2005 - A Supervisors Conference sponsored by CAHRA began.
  • 2006 - The first CAHRA Diversity Conference was held.

The official records show the association has functioned under four names.  Effective dates are:

  • January 10, 1952 - The Personnel Association of Arkansas (PAA)
  • February 18, 1983 - Arkansas Personnel Association (APA)
  • September 16, 1991 - Arkansas Human Resources Association (AHRA)
  • January 4, 2002 - Central Arkansas Human Resources Association (CAHRA)

An unofficial review indicates that more than 20 members of CAHRA have served in state or regional offices, and a much larger number have served on numerous state and national SHRM committees.  The number of awards received by the association members is even more numerous. Kathleen McComber, a past president of CAHRA, served as the 1998 Chair for the Society for Human Resources.

After fifty years, Central Arkansas Human Resources Association has grown from under twenty members to over 300.  One hundred six members hold professional certifications through SHRM.  The chapter's thirty five consecutive Superior Merit Awards  is a  national record.

The sixteen charter members cast the vision, and many fine professionals along the way turned the infant 1952 association into a leading chapter of SHRM.


The above history was mostly written by Dan Woods, a Member of CAHRA since 1953, for our CAHRA 50 year celebration.  Records prior to 1988 are very incomplete.  This was written using records that are available, but mostly from memory and interviews with our older members, including some charter members.  However, it is thought to be at least 95% accurate