AR Briefly

Former Entergy CEO to be Arkansas secretary of commerce, Huckabee Sanders announces

By: - December 22, 2022 3:57 pm

Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday she will nominate former Entergy Arkansas CEO Hugh McDonald as secretary of the Department of Commerce.

McDonald, 64, served as president and CEO of the state’s largest electric utility from 2000 to 2016. Entergy provides power to more than 700,000 customers.

Hugh McDonald

He remains active in civic roles on the board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas, a trustee for the North Dakota State University Foundation, and board member of the Arkansas Career Education and Workforce Development Board.

He and his wife Michelle also are reading tutors for third-graders at Stephens Elementary in Little Rock.

In an afternoon press conference at the Arkansas State University System offices in Little Rock, Sanders said she and McDonald will work together to “foster an environment for our businesses to create thousands of higher paying jobs and grow our state’s economy.”

Part of that effort, she and McDonald said, will include improving technical and secondary education to enhance the employability of the state’s workforce.

McDonald will replace Mike Preston, who spearheaded the state’s economic development efforts for much of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s two terms.

“I am honored that Governor-elect Sanders has tapped me to lead the Department of Commerce and confident that her economic reforms will take our state to new heights,” McDonald said.

“Together, we will foster a business-friendly environment with a strong workforce development pipeline that allows businesses to recruit and retain highly skilled workers.

McDonald biography

McDonald joined Entergy in 1982 as an engineer at Waterford 3 nuclear generating plant in Louisiana. He held various management positions in the distribution, transmission, customer service, retail marketing, and regulatory business functions in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas.

Prior to working for Entergy, he was employed by Black and Veatch Consulting Engineers in Overland Park, Kansas.

McDonald served as past board chair of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Fifty for the Future, the Arkansas Research Alliance, the Arkansas Career Education and Workforce Development Board, and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Board of Advisors.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in construction management from North Dakota State University, 1980, and earned an MBA from the University of New Orleans in 1987.

He and his wife have three children who all reside in Arkansas.

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Sonny Albarado
Sonny Albarado

In his 50-year career, Sonny Albarado has been an investigations editor, a business editor, a city editor, an environmental reporter and a government reporter at newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. Most recently, he retired from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after serving as projects editor for 12 ½ years. He got his start in journalism as editor of the Nicholls Worth, the student newspaper at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1973. Nicholls awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters in 2014.

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