Mack McLarty was presented the Rector Award at a Little Rock luncheon Jan. 17 held by Fifty for the Future, a civic organization of business leaders in central Arkansas. Named in memory of the late William Rector, the award comes with a charitable donation of $1,000, which McLarty designated for the Centers for Youth & Families.
McLarty’s early professional life exhibited the mix of public- and private-sector work that would come to define his career. He was elected to the Arkansas Legislature at the age of 24, serving a single term and joining his father in the family transportation business. He then became chairman of the state Democratic Party, a post he held until 1976. He was elected to the board of directors of Arkla Inc. in 1976 and, seven years later, became Arkla’s president. McLarty was later appointed chief executive officer and chairman as Arkla grew into one of the nation’s largest natural gas distributors during his tenure. In that time, he served on the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Environmental Quality, as well as the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board and the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
McLarty left Arkla and joined the Clinton administration in 1993. A lifelong friend of Clinton, he served as his chief of staff for 18 months before moving on to other positions, such as special envoy for the Americas. McLarty played a key role in a number of the Clinton era’s defining legislative acts, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Family & Medical Leave Act and landmark welfare reform legislation.
After leaving the White House, he founded McLarty Associates, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. He is currently its president and also serves as the chairman of the McLarty Cos., the business founded by his grandfather in 1926.