AEDC Director Maria Haley 'Gravely Ill'

The director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Maria Haley, is "gravely ill" and in the hospital, according a spokeswoman for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Leslie Taylor said Haley's family is requesting prayers. Taylor could not release more information.

Haley, who was 70 when she was included in Arkansas Business' "Power List" issue in March, became ill while at work Friday and was rushed to UAMS Medical Center. She was appointed to lead AEDC by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2007, taking over the post from former director Larry Walther, an appointee of former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Before that, Haley worked as a senior director at Kissinger McLarty Associates in Washington D.C., specializing in Asia-related projects. The firm is headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Clinton administration chief of staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty.

Haley was also an adviser and consultant to the Philippine government of President Gloria Arroyo.

Haley had previously worked for the economic development agency from 1979-1992, when it was known as the Arkansas Industrial Development Corporation.

She had already bought a condo in Little Rock and was planning to retire in the state when the governor called in 2007, asking her to lead AEDC. At the time, she was senior director with Kissinger McLarty Associates.

After telling Beebe that she would think about the offer, Haley said she went to McLarty for advice. He said, "When the governor of the state you love asks you to serve, it's very difficult to say no." And she didn't.

"I wanted to come home and make a difference, get back into public service," Haley said. The Legislature was in session when she reported for duty in February 2007, and much of what the governor was seeking from the Legislature concerned economic development and education.

"The governor's vision and my vision are very similar," Haley said. "He believes education and economic development and jobs go hand-in-hand, and that is exactly my vision."

More
See Little Rock Soirée's November feature and photo shoot of Haley
, honored with a Vision Award last year by Lions World Services for the Blind. 

Read a March 2010 interview with Haley, who talks about how to sell Arkansas.

Read Arkansas Business' May 2007 cover story and interview with Haley, who had just been appointed to lead AEDC.