Junior Achievement Special Section
General Mark Hamilton, Emcee Extraordinaire
Contributed by Junior Achievement of Alaska

t the 2022 Alaska Business Hall of Fame, Junior Achievement of Alaska’s staff and board will pay tribute to what has become a signature element of the event—the passing of the baton by its beloved master of ceremonies, Retired US Army Major General Mark R. Hamilton. After a decade in the role, Hamilton is letting someone else take the mic.

Being the emcee at an event featuring Alaska’s most powerful business leaders is not without its challenges. After years of budget cuts, staff reductions, and turnover, the event lacked structure. “When you have a lot of speakers and transitions, the emcee has to facilitate that process so that the program continues to flow. And of course you have technology problems, typos in the script, lighting problems, and things like that,” says Flora Teo, president of Junior Achievement of Alaska. “And Mark always handled everything beautifully.”

Mark Hamilton headshot
University of Alaska
Warrior Poet
Hamilton served in the US Army for thirty-one years before taking on a chief leadership position with the University of Alaska. Hamilton received a bachelor of science degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, a master’s degree in English literature from Florida State University, and graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College in Virginia and the US Army War College in Pennsylvania. As commander for the US military group in El Salvador, he was largely responsible for negotiating an end of the twelve-year Salvadoran Civil War. Other highlights of his career include negotiations in Somalia that led to peace and the removal of the US 10th Mountain Division, advising the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in NATO on the former republic of Yugoslavia, and being twice assigned to Alaska.

Hamilton is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Joint Distinguished Service Medal. ABC news anchor Peter Jennings featured Hamilton as “Person of the Week,” highlighting his 1993 negotiation with Somali warlords.

“When Mark stepped into this role as emcee, we [the staff] had no idea what to expect,” Teo says with a laugh. “Mark was very patient and methodical in his methods of running of this event, and we owe him a great deal of gratitude for his patience, professionalism, and unmatched focus.”

As emcee of the Alaska Business Hall of Fame, Hamilton says, “[My favorite] memories center around the youngsters who presented the Laureates. [They were] confident, articulate, and related understanding of what their honoree had accomplished. I loved to hear them say ‘my laureate.’”

Looking Ahead
In 2020, Hamilton indicated it was time for the event to have a new voice. “Over the past ten years, Mark has become an invaluable part of our program,” says Teo. “It has been an honor working with him and he will be missed dearly. We wish he and Patti all the best on their next adventure.”

While no two events or emcees are ever alike, Hamilton shared some reflective thoughts for those considering stepping into such a role. “The Laureates will weave together the lesson of the evening,” he says. “I think you will be surprised how often the message is love, certainly deep affection for family, business partners, employees, and even long-time customers. It is a beautiful orchestra every time, just listen. It is joyful.”