Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Arkansas commissioner of Education, will be the keynote speaker at the 77th annual Phillips County Chamber of Commerce this Thursday evening at Phillips College's Fine Arts Center. According to Doug Friedlander, Chamber executive director, the festivities will begin at 5:30 with cocktails. The seating for dinner will begin at 6:30. “As usual, we're aiming to outdo ourselves,” commented Friedlander. “Those attending the event will enjoy a delicious three-course meal and an open bar. Participants will learn about exciting updates and hear reports regarding the progress made last year.” Friedlander said the Chamber was extremely pleased to have secured Kimbrell as the guest speaker for the evening. Governor Mike Beebe appointed Kimbrell, a lifelong Arkansas educator, education commissioner in 2009. Before his appointment, Kimbrell served as executive director of the Arkansas Association of Education Administrators, superintendent of the North Little Rock and Paragould school districts, assistant principal of the Corning School District. Kimbrell began his career in publication almost 30 years ago. He was a teacher and coach in the Paragould and Pocahontas school districts. He earned his doctorate in education and his Master of Science in Education from Arkansas State University and his Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. As an administrator, Kimbrell is recognized for his expertise in school finance, education policy, assessment, accountability, curriculum and instruction. His focus as state education commissioner is bringing positive, sustainable change to underperforming schools. “Dr. Kimbrell will share with us a candid assessment of our public schools here in Phillips County and help us understand what it will take to fully restore our schools to the greatness they once embodied,” commented Friedlander. Tickets are now on sale. Tables of eight or 10 may be reserved. For more information or to buy a ticket, please call 338-8327.