Annual Gala

2023 Gala Speaker – Rex Nelson

Rex Nelson is one of the most high-profile writers and speakers in the state. As senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he writes three columns a week and essays for the cover of the newspaper’s Sunday Perspective section. He’s the author of three books — the first full-length biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton, a biography of Arkansas educator Ben Elrod and a collection of his essays on Arkansas. He’s also the author of a popular blog known as Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried and makes regular television and radio appearances. Nelson served for almost a decade as the policy and communications director for Gov. Mike Huckabee and then served for four years in the administration of President George W. Bush as one of the president’s two appointees to the Delta Regional Authority. He has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. In 2016, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission named Nelson as its Rural Advocate of the Year for the state of Arkansas.

Past DPEF Gala Speakers

  • 2022 – Craig O’Neill
  • 2021 – Matt Zimmerman
  • 2019 – Chuck Dovish
  • 2018 – Walt Coleman
  • 2017 – Johnny Key
  • 2016 – DJ Williams
  • 2015 – Steve “Wildman” Wilson
  • 2014 – Craig O’Neill
  • 2013 – DHS EAST Classroom
  • 2012 – Patti Shipp