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A. Watson Bell

A. Watson Bell, of Searcy, Arkansas, was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to be Chairman of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission effective January 15, 2009, for a six-year term.

By law, the Chairman must be an attorney, and Bell has been a practicing attorney in Searcy, White County, Arkansas for over thirty years. Before being named Chairman of the Commission, he was a partner in the Lightle Law Firm and has represented both claimants and employer/respondents before the Commission.

He has also spent thirty years hearing cases as a City Court Judge, ten years as a Juvenile Court Judge, and ten months as a District Court Judge. He is licensed to practice before the U. S. District Courts and the 8th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals. He has been appointed to serve as Special Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court on three occasions by Governors Clinton, Tucker, and Huckabee. He is currently a member of the Arkansas Bar Association and is past President of the White County Bar Association.

Chairman Bell has served as Chairman of the State Board of Law Examiners, the Searcy Planning Commission, the White County Election Commission, the White County Democratic Party, the Searcy Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of Arkansas Baptist Family and Child Care Services. He has also served on the Board of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Searcy Kiwanis Club, and the Executive Committee of the State Democratic Committee.

He is currently serving on the Board of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, Memphis, Tennessee. He has served on the Board of Trustees at First Baptist Church in Searcy, where he teaches Sunday school.

His wife of over 41 years is Jean Ann Bell, a retired educator. His children are Betsy Bailey of Searcy and Art Bell of Little Rock.


Karen H. McKinney

Karen H. McKinney was reappointed on January 16, 2011, to a six-year term as a Commissioner for the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (AWCC) by Governor Mike Beebe.

She had been appointed as a commissioner on September 17, 2003, to complete a previous commissioner's term, and served a six year term from December 5, 2004 until January 15, 2011.

Commissioner McKinney joined the AWCC staff in April, 1996, where she served as a law clerk for the Full Commission until her appointment as an Administrative Law Judge in June, 1999. Commissioner McKinney served as an attorney for the Barber McCaskill Amsler Jones & Hale firm of Little Rock from May, 1992, until joining the AWCC in 1996.

While she was in private practice, McKinney specialized in insurance defense litigation with an emphasis on tort liability, product liability, and workers' compensation.

She was the valedictorian at Hazen High School in 1984, was graduated magna cum laude from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia in 1989, and received her law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1992. She resides in Little Rock with her husband Kevin and daughters Taylor and Bailey.


Philip A. Hood

Philip Alan Hood, was appointed Commissioner by Governor Mike Beebe on January 9, 2007, as the labor representative for the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Commissioner Hood was appointed by the governor to a six-year term after serving an appointment at another state agency, the Workforce Investment Board, which links employers and jobseekers through a statewide delivery system. He had been there since 2004.

Commissioner Hood is a product of the Little Rock public school system. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Returning to Arkansas after graduation, Commissioner Hood obtained several licenses and certifications, including a multi-line insurance license and a Series 7 Securities license. He had operated as a professional in the insurance and financial services industry in the state of Arkansas since 1995.

Commissioner Hood is a member of the Office Professional Employees International Union Local 105, where he presently serves as president. Previously, while affiliated with the air transportation industry, he was a member of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers where he served as president for more than a thousand members of his local.

He currently serves the membership of the Arkansas AFL-CIO as an executive board member and committee member for both the Pension and Legislative committees.

Commissioner Hood is active in his church and community. He resides in Little Rock with his wife and two children.


State of Arkansas
Workers' Compensation Commission
324 South Spring Street
P.O. Box 950
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0950
Telephone 1-501-682-3930 / 1-800-622-4472
Legal Advisor Direct 1-800-250-2511
Arkansas Relay System TDD 1-800-285-1131

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