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Hutchinson Announces the 15 New Cabinet Secretaries

Hutchinson

Change has come for Arkansas’ state agencies. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has released the secretaries who will be heading up the new cabinet positions he has created.

In October 2018, Hutchinson announced his intentions to transform the state government and reduce the number of cabinet-level agencies. This overhaul reduced the number of agencies from 42 to 15.

“This long-overdue and comprehensive reorganization effort will realign agencies to reflect a more modern and efficient way to operate state government without cutting any services,” Hutchinson said.

This transformation represents the first reorganization of the state’s government since 1971 when Gov. Dale Bumpers reduced the number of agencies from 60 to 13.

The cabinet secretaries will assume their new roles on July 1.

“Now that these fifteen secretarial positions have been designated, they really have a month and a half, less than a month and a half to prepare for the transition on July 1,” Hutchinson said.“I will be asking each of the cabinet secretaries as they go onboard July 1 to form transformation action teams within each department that will engage the state employee at every level that will help share ideas, be part of the transformation of that particular department.”

Seven of the appointed cabinet secretaries are women, representing 47 percent of the total number of appointments. This is the highest percentage of women in cabinet appointments in state history.

“This is the culmination of two years of hard work that will make state government more efficient and allow agencies to be even more responsive to needs,” Hutchinson said. “I have selected a diverse slate of secretaries whose cumulative years of experience are exactly what Arkansas needs as we grow our state and improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Additional announcements related to the government transformation are likely to come soon, according to Hutchinson.

“I expect over the next 45 days that there’ll be additional announcements as to alignment of people, to changes in positions that will further carry out the mission that we have to do on this transformation of government,” he said.

The 15 new cabinet secretaries are:

Wes Ward

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture – Wes Ward
Ward currently serves the state as the Secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD).

Michael Preston

Secretary of the Department of Commerce – Michael Preston
Preston currently serves the state as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). He will continue to serve in both capacities.

Wendy Kelley

Secretary of the Department of Corrections – Wendy Kelley
Kelley currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC), soon to be known as the Division of Corrections. She will continue to serve in both capacities.

Johnny Key

Secretary of the Department of Education – Johnny Key
Key currently serves the state as the Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), soon to be known as the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. He will continue to serve in both capacities.

Becky W. Keogh

Secretary of the Department of Energy and Environment – Becky W. Keogh
Keogh currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), soon to be known as the Division of Environmental Quality. She will continue to serve in both capacities.

Larry W. Walther

Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration – Larry W. Walther
Walther currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

Dr. Nathaniel Smith

Secretary of the Department of Health – Dr. Nathaniel Smith
Smith currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Cindy Gillespie

Secretary of the Department of Human Services – Cindy Gillespie
Gillespie currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

Elizabeth Thomas Smith

Secretary of the Department of Inspector General – Elizabeth Thomas Smith
Smith currently serves the state as the Arkansas Medicaid Inspector General. She will continue to serve in both capacities

Daryl Bassett

Secretary of the Department of Labor and Licensing – Daryl E. Bassett
Bassett currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS), soon to be known as the Division of Workforce Services.

Major General Mark H. Berry

Secretary of the Department of the Military – Major General Mark H. Berry
General Berry is the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard.

Stacy Hurst

Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism – Stacy Hurst
Hurst currently serves the state as the Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), soon to be known as the Division of Arkansas Heritage. She will continue to serve in both capacities.

Jami Cook

Secretary of the Department of Public Safety – Jami Cook
Cook currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (ALETA), soon to be known as the Division of Law Enforcement Standards and Training. She will continue to serve in both capacities.

Amy Fecher

Secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services – Amy Fecher
Fecher currently serves the state as the Chief Transformation Officer of the Governor’s Office of Transformation.

Colonel (Ret.) Nathaniel (Nate) Todd

Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs – Colonel (Ret.) Nathaniel (Nate) Todd
Todd currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA).

READ MORE: Governing Transformation

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