Arkansas P.E.A.R.L.

Positive Energy Affecting Recovering Lives

PEARL is a non-profit corporation that supports the Benton County Drug Court Program. We help participants get back on their feet and take control of their lives by giving them access to resources and programs proven to increase the chances of successfully recovering from addiction.

Board of Directors


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Founder & President

Karen Slater

After a long and successful career as an insurance agent, with five children, Karen found herself struggling to keep up with her growing family and an addiction that had left her life in chaos. And in 2012, after 28 years of addiction, Karen was ready to get her life back on track.

Karen used the accountability that the Benton County Drug Court provided to foster self-discipline and begin working toward her personal and professional goals. Over time, this grew into increased self-confidence and self-esteem, which further helped her overcome her struggles with addiction. With the help of Drug Court and an anonymous 12-step recovery program, Karen was able to stay honest, open-minded and motivated to keep moving forward.

But, Karen realized not everyone had access to the same programs or support that she had. And, from her own experience, she knew how important such compassion, reliability and accountability could be in stepping away from self-serving thoughts and finding lasting recovery.

Karen founded P.E.A.R.L. and serves on the board of directors to help individuals in Northwest Arkansas find lasting recovery from addiction and rejoin society as contributing members. Because she knows – from her own experience – just how far the right guidance and support can go.

Not everyone has access to the same programs or support that I had. I know how important compassion, accountability and reliability can be in finding lasting recovery.
— Karen Slater

Vice-President

Christopher Hart

As a Mental Health Paraprofessional (MHPP) and Certified Integral Therapist (CIT), Christopher has long been committed to helping others. But, Chris recognized that many people who needed and wanted help continued to struggle in their recovery, having limited access to practical resources and support. 

Having graduated the Benton County Drug Court program in 2010, Christopher recognizes that the path to lasting and meaningful change can take time, resources and patience. Many individuals struggling with addiction have tried to escape the cycle of use that has damaged their lives but may not have the skills, awareness or reliable support system that they needed. The Benton County Drug Court offers an alternative to punishment that focuses on treating participants, helping them recovery and learn how to become a contributing, law-abiding member of society.

Christopher joined PEARL in the beginning of 2015, helping the organization build a strong foundation with a clear and effective mission. Christopher now sits on the board of directors as Vice President. He saw that many non-profits existed to help connect organizations in need with funds, services, donors and volunteers, but none focused on supporting programs like the Benton County Drug Court.

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Recovery takes a lot of resources that would not be available unless someone is there, willing to help. My goal is to be there and be able to offer some sort of help to the people who are wanting to change their lives.
— Christopher Hart

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Secretary & Director of Business

Attorney Ben T. Roberds

Ben T. Roberds started his career as a Rule XV Prosecutor with the Rogers City Attorney’s Office and then as an Associate Attorney at Jerry B. Dossey, PLC in downtown Bentonville. He has litigated cases at the District, State, and Federal Court level. Attorney  Ben T. Roberds has legal experience in every Circuit and District Court in Benton County Arkansas and has handled cases throughout the state of Arkansas. 

Ben T. Roberds has practiced law in every alternative court in Benton and Washington County and currently sits as lead defense attorney for the DWI Court in the Bentonville District Court.  Ben T. Roberds has been a long time advocate and supporter of the alternative courts as they elevate meaningful rehabilitation in lieu of punitive incarceration. 

We’re making changes which positively affect the community and our tax dollars. Everyone benefits from a program where people get clean and contribute instead of repeating criminal behavior.
— Attorney Ben T. Roberds

Director of Treasury

Shirley Farmer-Russell

Shirley became involved with P.E.A.R.L. after her daughter, Karen, completed the Benton County Drug Court 15-month program. The Drug Court judge stated that he wanted someone to start a non-profit organization that would benefit Benton County Drug Court participants. And, when Karen volunteered for the responsibility, she asked if Shirley would bring her experience to help.

Shirley had served on several non-profit boards in her career, including The Crisis Center for Women and the Gateway Board, an alcohol and drug rehab center. In addition to her non-profit experience, Shirley was a licensed financial advisor and spent 30 years working as an insurance agent and managing her own rental properties. Those years as a self-employed woman helped her develop practical and effective management and leadership skills. And, as a member of the Al-Anon Family Groups for 25 years, Shirley understands the effects of alcoholism and drug addiction on the family. She has sponsored many women within the program, and her combination of personal, professional and volunteer experience is a valuable addition to the P.E.A.R.L. Board.

As the Director of the Treasury, Shirley is playing a vital role in ensuring P.E.A.R.L. can help as many individuals as possible. On top of her Board responsibilities, Shirley poured hours of her time into the initial planning of the organization and continues to volunteer whenever and wherever she is needed. She recognizes the many challenges recovering addicts face and she is passionate about helping individuals find the resources and support they need to find lasting recovery.

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“As far as I know, there is no other program that serves drug court participants in this manner.”
— Shirley Farmer-Russell