2024 Don Harpst, Sr. Leadership Nebraska Award: Honors a Nebraska newspaper publisher/employee for leadership role in their community

2024 Don Harpst, Sr. Leadership Nebraska Award

(Award will be presented during the April 2024 NPA Annual Convention in Lincoln, NE)

LINCOLN, Neb. – Newspapers continue to play a vital role in leading and shaping communities. In addition to their primary responsibility of providing reliable information on local news, events, and important issues, newspapers foster civic engagement by providing platforms for public discourse and debate. They connect the community by celebrating local achievements, publicizing community milestones, and promoting local businesses. They advocate for positive change by supporting campaigns, highlighting issues, and rallying public opinion to address pressing concerns. And they help to foster future leaders by recognizing, mentoring, and inspiring young new trailblazers.

The Nebraska Press Association (NPA) is giving community members the opportunity to honor a newspaper or newspaper employee who fulfills the leadership role necessary to shape a community. The Leadership Nebraska Award is funded through a donation made in memory of Don Harpst, Sr., a Nebraska newspaperman who believed in the value of community leadership.

Harpst, a past president of NPA, died in 1984 at the age of 69. During his newspaper career, he owned the Indianola News, Cambridge Clarion, Curtis Hi-Line Enterprise, Maywood Eagle Reporter, Wilsonville Review, and Eustis News, all in Southwest Nebraska. Harpst was active in the promotion of irrigation in the Republican River Valley and flood control protection in Cambridge, Neb. One of the first things he did when he bought the Indianola News in 1941 was to organize the Rotary Club because he felt the organization could help develop community pride, as well as future leaders from its members.

“He felt the newspaper needed to demonstrate leadership for the rest of the community. If a newspaper was solidly behind a project, it had a good chance of getting completed,” said his son, Don Harpst, Jr., who provided the funds for the annual Leadership Nebraska Award in memory of his father.

Don Harpst, Jr. was also a newspaper publisher at Curtis, Neb. for 20 years, but left the industry to work in the healthcare administration field. He has a passion for developing new leaders. “Every community gets to the point where they rely on heroes, but the heroes don’t live forever,” he said. “We need to keep working on more heroes, more living examples.”

The Don Harpst, Sr. Leadership Nebraska Award is open to any Nebraska newspaper publisher or employee and includes a $500 prize to go to the winning recipient, and a $1,000 prize that will go to the community organization of the recipient’s choice.

Deadline for 2024 award nominations is CLOSED.

A panel of judges will be appointed by the NPA president to review all nominations. Criteria for the award is flexible to accommodate a wide range of journalistic endeavors, including photo essays, editorials, news articles, feature stories, promotional activities, reward programs, and recognition events. Judges will be evaluating nominees based on the efforts they have made to help communities or community organizations, overcome a crisis, achieve a major goal, or recognize current and future leaders.