Mike Masterson will receive the 2023 Ozarks Ambassador Award presented by the North Arkansas College Foundation. He will be honored during the Foundation’s annual Evening on the Plaza Dinner on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in the L.E. “Gene” Durand Center in Harrison. The dinner will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. in the atrium at Signature Bank Community Room. Tickets for the event are $50 per person or $250 for a table of six.
Established in 1990, the Ozarks Ambassador Award is presented annually to someone who has represented northern Arkansas with distinction nationwide in one or more of the following fields: agriculture, finance, medicine, education, the arts, politics, law, business, social services, the ministry, or industry.
Mike Masterson is the son of the late Col. Rue B. Masterson and Elaine Hammerschmidt Masterson of Harrison, one of five siblings that included former Third District Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt.
After completing college at the University of Central Arkansas in 1971, he began his career as editor of the Newport Daily Independent. After two years he became editor of the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record until 1980 when he joined the reporting staff at the Los Angeles Times.
His career then led to becoming an investigative reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times before returning to lead investigations for the Arkansas Democrat in 1982. In 1986, he was named investigative projects editor for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix and four years later was chosen to fill the endowed Kiplinger chair in Public Affairs Reporting at The Ohio State University.
During his years away, Mike missed his native state and Harrison every day. In 1995 he returned as executive editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville.
Five years later, he began writing three personal opinion columns weekly for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which after 22 years he continues to write. He'd finally quit roaming. In 2015, he returned to his hometown where he and his wife, Jeanetta, also born in Harrison, share a home with their little Taco Terrier, Benji, adopted from the humane society.
Over the years, Mike has written extensively about the people, culture, politics, communities, education, streams and environment in our beloved Ozarks, in addition to repeatedly defending his hometown against unfair media coverage and the misperceptions that has created of the good and caring people of Harrison.
His work as a journalist who often speaks for those without a voice has been nationally honored on more than two dozen occasions.
Local businessman and former Northark Trustee Bill Lovell will be presented with the 2023 Pioneer Impact Award. This award was established in 2018 to recognize individuals for their service to Northark and to the community. Mr. Lovell is an alum who has been a longtime supporter of Northark over the years in a variety of ways. Northark is proud to honor him for his service.
“Both Mike Masterson and Bill Lovell have elevated Harrison and the surrounding areas upward with their respective skills,” Dr. Rodney Arnold, executive director of the Foundation commented. “Mike’s talent for words has influenced public perception favorably and Bill has stepped into various leadership roles to support Northark. We invite everyone to join us as we recognize these individuals and enjoy the dinner which will be provided by Jamie’s Creative Catering.”