Armed with a successful legal career and a penchant for public service, Conway resident Andrea Woods recently announced her candidacy for circuit judge.
Andrea and her husband, Jeff, have been married 23 years this August. The couple has two children: Cullen, 18, will attend the University of Arkansas Honors College this fall. He graduated from Conway High School in spring 2017. Abby, 14, attends Conway Junior High School. Andrea grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where her father served as city manager for almost 18 years. Her mother started a small business once Andrea and her siblings began school.
“I wanted to spread my wings, so I chose to attend the University of Kansas. My parents met at the University of Kansas, and my maternal grandmother had a farm about 30 minutes away from the campus,” Andrea shares of her post-high school life. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1992 and entered law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1993 after taking a year off to work. “When I returned to Fayetteville to begin law school, I ran into Jeff downtown. We dated off-and-on in high school and college, and that time it stuck,” she says. They married in 1994 and moved to Ohio two weeks later.
“As newlyweds, we lived in Ohio where Jeff earned his Ph.D. in History. I completed law school at Capital University School of Law in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree, with honors, in 1996.” The Woods remained in Ohio upon their respective graduations. “My first job after law school was working as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Fairfield County, Ohio, which is about 30 minutes southeast of Columbus. It was an amazing experience and reinforced my confidence in our judicial system,” shares Andrea.
About 17 years ago, Jeff had a job opportunity at Arkansas Tech University, and the Woods made their home in Conway. “Our son was just shy of turning a year old when we moved back home to Arkansas,” she says. Andrea now serves as Executive Vice President and Corporate Counsel for The Nabholz Group, Inc. She attributes her role to, “The Faulkner County Leadership Institute (FCLI), a good friend, and luck. I met my current boss, Greg Williams, during the FCLI business day program. The timing of meeting him was amazing. Greg called me the next day to set up an interview,” she explains. Prior to this serendipitous meeting, she considered opening a law practice in Conway. “My experience as an attorney has been amazing. A law degree is very flexible because you can pursue so many different careers. There are opportunities in non-traditional legal roles in addition to a traditional law practice.”
When asked to name some career highlights, Andrea responds, “One of my most memorable experiences was serving as second chair as a young attorney on a two-week murder trial. Another is being approved as a board member at The Nabholz Group, Inc. It was a true honor to be nominated and approved by the shareholders to serve in this role.”
Regarding practicing law, she says, “I went to law school because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. It is a rewarding profession in many ways, and I believe I’ve been able to have a positive impact in people’s lives regardless of what job I’ve held. I remain passionate about our judicial system and what it can do for individuals and communities.”
Andrea has certainly invested in her community. She currently serves as chair-elect of the Conway Regional Health System and as chair of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. “After taking about two years off due to my work schedule, I am a member of the Conway Kiwanis Club. The passing of Senator Stanley Russ caused me to reflect on how I was losing touch with some of the wonderful friends I made through Kiwanis and the Toad Suck Daze Run event,” she says.
Despite her accomplished career and a number of philanthropic commitments, Andrea relishes her spare time. “I like to take our dogs on short runs on weekends. I enjoy reading and being with my family. Sunday night dinners or just hanging out, eating popcorn and watching a movie with them is still one of my favorite things to do,” she says. The family also loves vacationing. “We all enjoy traveling and exploring new places. Last year’s spring break was a road trip through Nashville and Chapel Hill to visit colleges. We do our best to build in days to enjoy each location in addition to touring the campuses.”