Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette unveils new leadership

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Brent A. Powers has been named president of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

"Northwest Arkansas is such a special place. During the last two years as director of advertising and marketing, I've seen our organization's devotion and dedication first hand," Powers said. "We work hard on telling the stories of our communities and with advertisers to grow their businesses through marketing and advertising. The employees that work in every department and each location represent this community and our brand, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. We are honored to live here, to contribute as residents and to serve this great community."

Powers, 45, replaces Todd Nelson, 61, who announced his retirement recently.

"Brent is a well-rounded media executive and he has done an amazing job for our company as the advertising director," said Mark Lane, president of WEHCO Media's Newspaper Division. "He's a highly creative and energetic leader. He is passionate about local journalism, building relationships with customers, partners and team members."

WEHCO Media is the parent company of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and its other publications.

Powers is a Laurel, Miss., native who graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi. Powers' professional career includes stops at the Oxford Eagle, in Oxford, Miss.; and Gannett newspapers in Hattiesburg, Miss., and other locations. He worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency during its response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He also worked for papers with Freedom Communications in Illinois and North Carolina; and for the Joplin Globe in Missouri, before coming to Northwest Arkansas to oversee marketing and digital services.

"It's such an unbelievable marketplace that we have, it's a great place to raise a family and it's a great place to own a business. It's a great place to, really, make it whatever your dream is," Powers said of Northwest Arkansas.

Powers said the company has outstanding employees in every department and plenty of resources available to produce a superior product.

"For us, we're being very innovative right now with what our future is. We're going to make sure we make the appropriate changes that we need to make and, at the same time, embrace the things that got us to the dance," Powers said "It's really important for me that people know we're going to be the best of what we have and we're also going to be innovative and take risks where we need to, to make sure we're going to be around another 150 years. That's the plan."

Nelson worked at newspapers and in publishing positions from Texas to Nebraska before coming to Northwest Arkansas in 2014.

"For me, it's a bittersweet day, 40 years in the business," Nelson said Monday. "It's been a great business for me and I'll miss some of it and some of it I won't."

Nelson said Powers was his choice as a replacement. Nelson brought Powers to the paper two years ago.

"He'll be a great leader for you all and he'll have everybody doing new and innovative things," Nelson said.

Nelson and his wife, Kim, plan to move to Nebraska to live near their first grandchild, who was born in June, he said.

Director of finance appointed
In addition, Carla Gardner started work as the newspaper's director of finance and will replace Sandy Thompson, who announced recently that she will retire soon.

Gardner, a certified public accountant since 1993, has worked in the newspaper business for 26 years.

Gardner, 51, started as an accountant and then moved into a payroll manager position for Donrey Media, which became Stephens Media. She became business manager of the Stephens-owned Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith in 2001 and then added accounting manager functions to that role. She was also regional business manager for Stephens Media, working with the Springdale Morning News and its various newspapers.

Thompson, 62, went to work as chief finance director at what was then the Northwest Arkansas Times in 1983. She stayed with the paper through a series of owners.

Thompson is also retiring to spend more time with her grandchildren, she said.

"It has been a privilege to work with an outstanding group of people who are dedicated to being the best mutli media organization in Northwest Arkansas," Thompson said. "I wish them well and know they are in great hands moving forward with Carla."

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette distributes daily in Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Sebastian, Franklin, Johnson, Boone, Newton, Scott and Logan counties. It also publishes weekly newspapers in Northwest Arkansas and McDonald Co., Mo., and several magazines. It also operates Flypaper, a digital marketing firm.

WEHCO Media publishes daily and weekly newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock.

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