Carla Emanuel Lends Her Leadership to Little Rock Christian Academy

Admired by colleagues and friends for her genuine smile and deeply warm personality, Carla Emanuel has the demeanor of an angel but the heart of a warrior. She’s loving, energetic and extremely passionate about volunteering.

As the wife of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Director Dr. Peter Emanuel, the Wisconsin native spends an inordinate amount of time helping her husband recruit physicians and raise funds for the nonprofit institute. By her own admission, she is more than willing to champion cancer research and be an advocate for patient services.

“I am definitely personally passionate about cancer research and support,” she says. “It is so important to help make a difference. It breaks my heart to see kids with illnesses. I think every child deserves to live a healthy, normal, happy life. But you and I know that isn’t the case. So how can we help them? Get involved.”

Emanuel met her husband in Madison, WI, while he was in medical school and she was working as a manager of an apartment complex. She knew she wanted to marry Peter within two weeks of meeting him.

“He is calm, soothing, slow to anger, a thinker and extremely intelligent. I am excitable, moody, off the cuff; I want things done now and I’m not nearly as smart as he is,” she says, self-deprecatingly. “But we both love being outdoors, being together, being with family, and helping other people. We both work hard and both love the Lord.”

When Emanuel is not volunteering with the Cancer Institute Auxiliary, catching up with her three (almost) grown children, or helping run errands for those who can’t, she devotes a good deal of time to strengthening the next generation through a commitment to education.

“I think it is so very important to be involved with education, for several reasons,” she explains. “Most importantly, these kids will be taking care of us one day and running our country. I would like to be a part of shaping and molding them.”

Emanuel is in the third year of a six-year commitment to the Board of Trustees at Little Rock Christian Academy (LRCA) in west Little Rock. “Even though my own kids have graduated, I still serve there. I am so proud of the graduates LRCA turns out every year. We’re very serious about academics—that’s clear by looking at the high GPAs and the number of National Merit Scholars we have. But we’ve got that little something extra that produces well-rounded, committed young men and women,” she says.

Originally named Walnut Valley Christian Academy, Little Rock Christian was founded in 1977 by the Bible Church of Little Rock. By 2001, the school that started with only 11 kindergarten students built an entire K-12 campus on Highway 10, established academic accreditation and had more than 1,000 students enrolled. And LRCA isn’t finished growing yet. The school recently announced plans for a $3.5 million expansion, which will encompass a mix of new construction and renovation work, including Warrior Hall, a performing arts and music facility with seating for 750 and other buildings for the elementary school.

“I want to be a part of something special,” Emanuel says. “I want to know that we are making a difference in the hearts and minds of children.”

Described by her peers as a “volunteer extraordinaire,” Emanuel takes her position on the LRCA board seriously and admits that she has been humbled and greatly encouraged by the experience. “To be asked to be on the school board was such an honor. I am in a room full of lawyers, judges, teachers, CPAs, business owners, heads of school and then, there I am. Very humbling,” she admits. “This group of men and women are solid, 100 percent sold-out for Christ. Nothing is ever taken lightly, or for granted. We discuss everything with great detail.”

She continues, “The work we do will affect the entire campus and the community. We believe in what we are doing and that it will make a difference for many generations to come.”

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