Ernie Murry
      Ernie earned his Industrial Technology degree from the University of Arkansas. While attending college he was also a member of the Arkansas Razorback Basketball team. He currently lives in Pine Bluff where he is employed by the Pine Bluff School District as the Communities In Schools Director at Jack Robey Junior High School. Mr. Murry is presently involved with Partners for Better Pine Bluff/Youth Adult Partnership, Administrative Board of Junior Deputy of Jefferson County, and ACCESS Board for Single Parents.
Mike Perkins
    Mike graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 1989 with a B.S. in Biology. After graduation, Mr. Perkins continued his education at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated in 1991 with a M.S. in Exercise Science. After completing his Masters degree, Mr. Perkins began working as an Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at BAPTIST HEALTH Medical Center-Little Rock. In 1992, Mr. Perkins received his Exercise Specialist Certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. From 1997-2000, he worked at BAPTIST HEALTH Medical Center-Little Rock where he served as the Health Management Center Coordinator. The Health Management Center includes Cardiac Rehabilitation, Diabetes Self-Management and other wellness and rehabilitative programs. In January 2001, Mr. Perkins became Assistant Vice President of Patient Services for BAPTIST HEALTH Medical Center-Little Rock/BAPTIST HEALTH Rehabilitation Institute. He completed his Masters degree in Health Service Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in May 2001
Jane Mcmullin
      Jane is Presently the Director of Health and Fitness for Trinity Village in Pine Bluff. She Received Her Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Education from the University of Arkansas. Ms Mcmullin Also Received Her Physical Fitness Specialist Certification from the Cooper's Institute for Aerobic Research in Dallas, Texas. She Is the Recipient of the National Service Award for the Arthritis Foundation (1999), Outstanding Young Arkansan (1989), Outstanding Young Fitness Leader (1989), Owner of Jane's Gym in Dewitt, People With Arthritis Can Exercise (Pace) Trainer for the Arthritis Association, and Is a Consultant for Hugs, Humor and Health. Ms. Mcmullin Serves on the Planning Committee of the Arthritis Foundation and as a Board Member of the Arkansas Senior Olympics.


Jeff Maher
      As a lifelong health and fitness enthusiast Jeff encourages and promotes wellness for all ages.   He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas where he served as the Race Director for the Tour de Toad Bike race.   Since then he has gone on to Race Direct the Museum of Discovery's annual Dino Dash 5K and 1K fun run each May as well as volunteers for the Little Rock Marathon Little Rockers Kids Marathon program and a volunteer soccer coach for the Little Rock Futball club.  He is an avid runner, cyclist & swimmer promoting health & fitness for all ages. As a past physical fitness trainer who is also a certified RRCA Running Coach, Jeff  continues to help individuals reach their fitness goals on a one-on-one basis through exercise & diet.   He serves as Treasurer of the Little Rock Roadrunners Running Club and Secretary for USA Track & Field-Arkansas.  Jeff is also a member of the Road Runners Club of America, Little Rock Marathon Training Group, and Chainwheel Cycling Club.  He has been recognized as an Arkansas Grand Prix Series Ironman for successfully completing a rigorous year long series of various distance races across the State.  Jeff is Treasurer and on the Board of Directors for Girls on the Run Central Arkansas

        He also has a passion for serving and volunteering in the community. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas and the Arkansas Children's Hospital Committee for the Future.

Dr. Chris Cothern DPT CSCS, CES, PES

    Chris has a bachelors degree in Health Sciences and Microbiology with a minor in Psychology, a Masters Degree in physical therapy, and a Doctorate degree in physical therapy with sports physical therapy emphasis.  The final project for his Doctorate was developing an ACL Segway program for post-surgical athletes which can be seen at   He is also is the Arkansas state director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a contributor in health and fitness magazines.  Chris has developed AthletiCorePlus Training, which is a program for the core muscles to assist in preventing and treating back injuries in active individuals and improving performance in athletes.  Chris is the founder and owner of AthletePlus Physical Therapy, Spine & Sports Performane, located in Springdale, AR.  AthletePlus is the official physical therapy, athletic training provider for Springdale Public School athletics, which is a 7A school district.  Chris has developed a program called Positive Athletic Student Scholarship (PASS) that awards scholarships each year to Springdale athletic students.
     College and pro athletes such as Todd Day and Chrys Chukhuma have trained with Chris.  Recently, NBA player Ronnie Brewer spent the off-season training and receiving therapy from Chris and enjoyed an injury free season.  Olympic sprinter Wallace Spearmon also worked with Chris before his 4th place finish in the 2012 Olympics in the 200 m dash. With a very successful speed training program, Chris and his trainers also have worked with many athletes that have signed with teams in the SEC, PAC-10, and many other conferences.  He has also consulted with colleges on injury prevention programs.  While with the Governor's Council on Fitness, Chris has been the chairman of the Great Arkansas Workout in Little Rock and he brought the first Great Arkansas Workout to Northwest Arkansas.  Chris is a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Coach with NASM.  His interests include general fitness, injury treatment and  prevention , and improving the health of all Arkansans.  Chris is the webmaster and designer of the Governor's Council website and lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Katherine, and sons, Evan and Elliott.

Gina Marchese Pharis
      Gina has had an extensive career in event planning and production in Little Rock for 20+ years. Gina worked at Bylites as an event coordinator / marketing director for 12 years then after working in sales and promotions for several years Gina worked as the special events coordinator with the City of Little Rock and the Little Rock River Market. In 2002 she moved into the event coordinator position for the launching of the first Little Rock Marathon where she still remains race coordinator! Although Gina had never run a marathon prior to taking the marathon job, she has now run/walked twenty marathons and sixteen half marathons and has always has a love for athletics and health and fitness!

Gina was a sports enthusiast as a young girl playing softball for 18 years and at 15; actually lettered in basketball her high school freshman year! Gina has served on numerous boards including Riverfest, Arkansas Festival Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Little Rock Zoo, Junior League of Little Rock, Museum of Discovery and the Human Growth Foundation. Gina is known for volunteering and asking people to volunteer . Whether representing the GCOF or another board, Gina encourages people of all ages to walk and exercise to keep a sharp mind and body.


Blair Dean, Chairman, Governor's Council on Fitness
     A native of Jonesboro, AR., Blair Dean is in her twelfth year at Arkansas State as an Associate Professor of Physical Education. In addition to supervising student interns, Dean's teaching responsibilities include elementary and secondary methods, rhythms, and motor skill development for children. Dean has been recognized for her expertise and commitment in teaching by the Arkansas Association for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance as Dance Teacher of the Year and has been the past recipient of the Arkansas State University College of Education Award for Excellence in Teaching.

    As a result of her public school and university experience, Dean has become nationally known for her expertise in physical activity integration for young children. She has shared this knowledge with colleagues internationally, nationally, regionally and in the Natural State. This scholarship recognition has led to her national consultant work in more than ten states. She is the author of several published articles on innovative physical education techniques for young children. Dean is a valued member of Arkansas' Healthy Families Coalition, The Child Health Advisory Board, and the Jonesboro Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  An enthusiastic marathoner, she leads an active lifestyle and encourages healthy lifestyles to Arkansans of all ages and abilities

Council Members

Rance Bryant
​Rance A native Pine Bluff, AR, Rance is the Director of Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center.  He earned his BS (98) and MS (00) from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR.  Rance has over 10 years in the medical fitness field by previously working at St. Bernards Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  He has been involved in the community with organizations such as the March of Dimes, United Way, American Heart Association and Susan G Komen.  Rance is a 2010 graduate of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute and currently serves on the University of Central Arkansas Exercise Science Advisory Board.

Arkansas Governors Council on Fitness  4815 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR Suite 307 Slot 6  
Coordinator Jennifer Reffner  ​  

David Strickland
    David has been the head athletic trainer at UCA since July of 1998. Since that time, he has been directing all aspects of the athletic training program. He currently oversees a staff of 4 full-time assistant athletic trainers, 2 graduate assistant athletic trainers, is responsible for supervising and administering the medical coverage for UCA's 18 NCAA Division I athletic teams, the medical care of over 400 student-athletes, and the operation of two athletic training facilities. 
     In addition to all his administrative responsibilities, David is also a clinical instructor in UCA's Athletic Training Education Program. His hard work and dedication in working in both the clinical and classroom settings with his athletic training students was recently rewarded; as he was promoted to Clinical Instructor II in 2006. His main area of interest in teaching is with head, neck, and spine injuries. He also teaches emergency care courses, and the equipment intensive clinical class within the athletic training education program. 
     David has drawn from his wealth of experience in the athletic training profession to provide his current student-athletes with the best possible medical care. David spent 2 summers as an assistant athletic trainer for the New Orleans Saints assisting in the day-to-day operation of the athletic training room during the summer and pre-season. He has also served as the Director of Athletic Training and Head Athletic Trainer at National American University (2 years), was the head athletic trainer for the Black Hills Posse Semi-Professional Basketball team (2 years), the head athletic trainer at Carlsbad High School in New Mexico (1 year), and spent one year as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse working with the 1996 football team that was crowned Division III National Champions. 
     A firm believer in the role of athletic training and in the importance of the profession itself, David has dedicated much of his free time to being a leader. He has been highly involved in the Arkansas Athletic Trainers Association serving on the Legislative Committee, the Public Relations Committee, as AATA Annual State Meeting Committee Chairperson, and was elected as AATA President in 2003. David has also served as a test site administrator for the NATA Board of Certification exam since 2000.  
     Volunteering has also been a big part of David's professional career. In February of 2003, he was selected to be a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee's Medical Staff for the Titan Games working with Taekwondo, Shot Put and Discus. In addition to that, in April of 2001, he was selected to work at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with the wrestling and Taekwondo teams. David has also volunteered his time for various other events, serving as the medical coordinator for the National College Finals Rodeo Championships (1998), the South Dakota High School State Wrestling Championships (1996), and the Mount Rushmore International Marathon (1996, 1997). In 1995, he assisted in hosting the NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Cross-Country National Championships while he was a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.  David is currently a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, the Southwest Athletic Trainer Association, the Arkansas Athletic Trainers Association, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.



Tabetha Holmes

Jennifer Reffner - Coordinator




Nash Abrams
Nash was Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for the Frank Lyon Distributing Company of Little Rock and Served As President of the Greater Little Rock Sales and Marketing Association. Mr. Abrams Has Been Recognized for His Community Service, Been on the Olympic Torch Relay Team, Pikes Peak Marathon Team, Senior Fitness Television Show, Served As President of the Arkansas Senior Organization and Received the Glenn Cunningham Gold Medal Award. 




Ryan Smith

A Native of Springdale, Ryan graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in Biology.  He is currently the Vice President in Mortgage Lending at Arvest Bank and has been with the bank since 2007. In his position he oversees a team of four lenders and an assistant, as well as mortgage production and business development.  As a health and fitness enthusiast, Ryan encourages fitness and wellness for people of all ages.  He competes in numerous races such as half marathons, Tough Mudders, Gauntlet Races, Warrior Dashes, and is currently training for a Spartan race.  While enjoying running and working out, Ryan also spends some of his free time participating in CrossFit.  He hopes to bring more endurance/extreme races to the state and further Arkansas' passion for a lifestyle of fitness and accomplishment.

Brenda Engle
.Director of Healthworks at White County Medical Center in Searcy. Health works develops and runs the hospital associate wellness program, Wellness Pays for the hospital's 1300 employees and their spouses.  Health works utilizes its 13 employees in a comprehensive health promotion program for the community of businesses, industries, schools and senior centers.  Brenda was previously a high school and community college physical education and fitness teacher.  Brenda has always been very active with her family of husband, 2 sons, 1 daughter, 2 grandsons, water sports, camping, hiking, biking, running and walking, snow skiing, and various team sports.  She and husband, Rob, recently got into HOG (Harley Owners Group) spending weekends enjoying riding their Harley Davidson.    Her activity goal for the future is to snow ski with all her grandchildren, skiing with her 7 year old grandson for the past 3 years. She is active in her community as well as at work, serving her Rotary club in various offices, this year being President of the service club.