Forty Under 40: Margot Lemaster

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,460 views 

Class of 2020 Forty Under 40 Margot Lemaster Executive Director, EngageNWA Northwest Arkansas Council, Springdale

Margot Lemaster joined the Northwest Arkansas Council in 2017 and is focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion for the region. EngageNWA is a council initiative.

“More diverse communities are stronger and perform better, so we need to make sure that we’re taking these things into consideration if we want to continue to be a great place to live and work,” she said.

The Fayetteville native led a regional process to create a plan to increase inclusion in Northwest Arkansas. The project was the first regional effort of its kind in the United States. The four-year EngageNWA Strategic Plan was unveiled in 2018.

Since then, the organization has hosted workshops on equity and inclusion, developed a leadership pledge that area companies have signed, and will launch a business cohort with area chambers of commerce. EngageNWA recently hired its first outreach director to work with area government agencies to advance its initiatives.

She noted the plan must be fluid and adapt to the changing times and pointed to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“People are ready to take action in serious and concrete ways,” she said. “We want to not lose the momentum.”

Lemaster previously was executive director of the Ozark Literacy Council and led program expansion to three new satellite sites and oversaw the development of the organization’s first workplace literacy program in its 52-year history. She worked there between 2013 and 2017 and started as an English as a second language instructor.

She earned a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Oregon in 2012 before working for business accelerator The ARK Challenge.

Lemaster is a member of an African dance troupe and enjoys pickleball and the outdoors.