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Women to Watch at UA Little Rock: Alicia Dorn

Alicia Dorn
Alicia Dorn

​​In celebration of Women’s History Month, UA Little Rock is profiling women in leadership positions who are making a difference at the university and in the community.

The next Woman to Watch at UA Little Rock of 2023 is Alicia Dorn, the chancellor’s chief of staff!

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but I lived in Texas for 12 years. I’ve served in different capacities before coming to UA Little Rock, but my background focuses heavily in public relations and communications. I am a people-person, and I love all things media and communications.

Prior to my current position, I served as the communications director at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences after serving as the public information officer for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, where I was also a part-time certified deputy. I never envisioned law enforcement as a career, but I went through the certification training so I could have a better understanding of the deputies’ duties and daily experiences. Prior to that, I served as a journalist for the Pine Bluff Commercial.

I love writing, but the most exciting aspect of this position was the adventure and the thrill of it. I also enjoyed meeting so many people from different walks of life. The news is changing daily, and it’s exciting to be the eyes and ears for those who are unable to attend government meetings, community events, etc. I could see my impact on the community through my writings. It’s one of my greatest accomplishments, and it’s how I built my reputation and gained trust and credibility. The people trust and respect me so much and that’s a ‘one of a kind’ feeling.

What is your current position and professional duties at UA Little Rock?

As the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff, I serve as the primary liaison to the Office of the Chancellor and assist in areas of communication, planning and preparation, project management, and other administrative responsibilities.

What brought you to UA Little Rock?

First, I am an alum of UA Little Rock, so it is an honor to be back on campus to serve in the role of Chief of Staff. I’m happy to be a team player at a university that has helped me become the individual I am today. It’s an exciting time at UA Little Rock, with so many progressive things occurring. The university has grown since I was a graduate student here, and I’m looking forward to the exponential growth that will occur in the near future.

What are some of the exciting projects that you are working on at UA Little Rock?

We are currently working on the five-year Strategic Plan, and it’s exciting because the university is in a good space right now, but the plan helps us to brainstorm and plan where we’d like to see ourselves in the next five years. Together, we will accomplish every goal we establish for our respective areas.

We also have the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series quickly approaching, and I’m super excited to be a part of the planning process. Our guest speaker is Kim Zetter, a national investigative journalist and author who has covered cybersecurity and national security for more than a decade. With cybersecurity being such a hot topic right now, this will be a very good and timely lecture. The Chancellor will host a reception/dinner, and I’m responsible for putting it together. I’m going to make sure this will be an evening to remember!

What woman has inspired you the most and why?

My grandmother, Lorene Ardella Dunlap, is the woman who has inspired me the most because of her unconditional love, her belief in me, and her unwavering strength. No matter what mistakes I’ve made in my life, she has never judged me, she’s never ridiculed or ostracized me, and she has always been my biggest cheerleader. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that she was able to see something in me that I wasn’t aware of. She would always tell me, “Baby, you can do anything you put your mind to.” She was right!

My grandmother was diagnosed with Polio, a disabling or life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus, at the age of 12, and she was told that she would never walk again. My grandmother overcame that and has been walking since I’ve known her. That’s strength! I saw her as my guardian angel/my protector. My grandmother is the most fearless woman I know, and I believe that had to do with her strong sense of faith. When I was scared, I would call her and she would pray with me and provide a sense of calm and safety. There were times when she’d come pick me up and take me to her home, which was one of the safest places of my childhood. She always knew what to do to make things better, and I love and admire her for that.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

There is beauty in consistency and discipline. Forming these habits is what makes you a winner. Being able to stay on your path despite setbacks and countless victories is what sets you apart and builds your strong character.

Always believe in yourself no matter what the outside world may say or think of you. Don’t allow anyone else to define who you are and what you’re capable of. Don’t give up on yourself or what your heart desires.

Name something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.

I am a ‘nerd.’ Many people see me and make superficial judgments before getting to know me. It’s always fun to see how people’s facial expressions change once they hear me speak. I enjoy reading, and I consider myself a lifelong learner, with life and my experiences being my greatest teachers/mentors.

What is your favorite quote and why?

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” – Stephen Covey

Self-growth is hard work. It can be frustrating and exhausting at times, but, in my opinion, it is the greatest journey an individual can decide to embark on. It requires a lot of patience with oneself. There’s nothing like the rewards that come from working on yourself and getting to know, love, appreciate, and accept yourself.

No one is perfect. There is always room for growth. Self-growth is about change, which is the only thing that is constant in this world. There is no growth without change. Personal growth is the very essence of life on Earth. If we aren’t growing during our time here, then we’re not learning and we’re missing the purpose of our life.

Only perfect people have no need to change, but I have not yet met a perfect human being, including myself. Everyone needs to change in some way. The goal is to become the best version of yourself.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Together, we can accomplish anything! Let’s Go, Trojans!!!