Cindy Gillespie, former health care adviser to former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has been named director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today, Feb. 3.
Gillespie’s start date will be March 1. John Selig previously served as director for 10 years before stepping down Jan. 1, 2016.
“After a national search and after interviewing a number of top candidates, I am confident that Cindy Gillespie has the breadth of experience, management capabilities and the right ideas to lead Arkansas’s largest agency,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
“She has nationally recognized expertise in the reform of Medicaid, and she has extensive experience in managing complex programs. Most importantly she has the heart and passion that is needed for an agency which is on the frontline of critical services that make a difference in the lives of Arkansans every day.”
As a senior adviser to Romney, she led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ interactions with the federal government and oversaw development and implementation of the administration’s executive branch initiatives, including playing a leading role in the development of Massachusetts health reforms. Her writings on health policy issues have appeared in numerous national publications.
Prior to her government service in Massachusetts, Gillespie, a Columbus, Georgia, native, served as a senior executive for the not-for-profit Salt Lake Olympic Committee, responsible for hosting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, and as a director at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the nonprofit hosting the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. She was recognized both nationally and internationally for her leadership in developing a unique public-private partnership between federal, state, local government and the organizing committees for staging the Games in the U.S.
She is currently a principal in the Washington, D.C. office of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice and a leader of the firm’s Health Policy and Health Insurance Exchange Teams. She is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Tennessee, and has a master’s degree from Auburn University in Alabama.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to join the impressive team Governor Hutchinson has brought together to serve the people of Arkansas,” Gillespie said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with the highly dedicated and capable employees at the Arkansas Department of Human Services, along with our partners throughout the state, to promote the health and well-being of all Arkansans, especially those most in need.”
Mississippi-based consulting firm The Pace Group Inc. was hired via an $85,000 contract to assist with the search for a DHS director. The Pace Group is the same organization that the Hutchinson administration used to hire Mike Preston, executive director of Arkansas Economic Development Commission.