FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — March is International Women’s Month. In celebration, we’re honoring local women who create change and inspire us all. We received over 20 nominations for Nexstar’s nationwide 2020 Woman of the Year Award.

Karen Reynolds is one of our four local finalists. She’s honored for her contributions to health care in Northwest Arkansas.

Her husband and nominator Todd Reynolds describes her as a very caring and giving person with an incredible work ethic. That just might be an understatement. Karen is a licensed nurse practitioner with a long list of accomplishments.

“I love caring for people, I like connecting with people. I also like being part of people’s lives from birth to death,” says the mother of two.

Her own birth played a significant role in who she is today. Born prematurely with respiratory distress syndrome, Karen spent months at L.A. Children’s depending on nurses and doctors to live. Her experience made her appreciate health care into adulthood.

“There were a lot of people who thought I may not survive. And I feel very blessed, I feel that because I did survive that I need to make sure that I help other individuals because God has given me a big opportunity,” she says.

“she’s definitely made the most out of her life,” says her husband.

Karen helped open Elkin’s first clinic, is a founding member of the Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association, and helps advance legislation to positively impact nursing.

“I was able to connect one nurse practitioner to every legislator in the state of Arkansas [and] encourage that legislator to vote more patient-friendly in the state of Arkansas,” says Karen.

She was also one of the first to educate nurses on a major loophole that fueled the opioid epidemic in the state.

“We had a big problem in Arkansas with people who would go from provider to provider to provider to get opioids,” she recalls.

All of that, on top of taking care of her family and inspiring her children to lead with compassion.

“I have a son. He is 14. And, a daughter. She is 10 and I’m so proud of them. We were able to work with them and they were able to start a nonprofit,” she says.

The nonprofit is called Clean Start. Karen’s children donate hygiene items to kids at local schools and organizations across the country.

“The kids have been able to help over 2,000 individuals throughout the state and the U.S. and we’ve even sent some stuff to missionaries out in Africa,” she says about Clean Start.

Todd is thankful his wife has passed down her sense of social responsibility to their children.

“Getting them to think about something besides themselves. Which is really great and I think we need more of in society,” says Todd.

Creating positive change is what makes Karen Reynolds a remarkable woman.

KNWA will feature the two remaining Remarkable Women finalists each Tuesday. On March 6, we announce the winner and candidate for Nexstar’s Nationwide 2020 Woman of The Year Award.