Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has named Aaron Sadler as his new director of communications, a former Arkansas journalist and government communications specialist who has served five state attorneys general.
Sadler, who also led communications for the Arkansas Press Association before taking his current job as communications director for the Alaska Department of Law, told Arkansas Business on Wednesday that he heard the call of home.
“I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this,” Sadler said by phone from Anchorage, where he has been based since October. “There’s nothing untoward up here; it’s a great place and a good job, but it’s a far way from home.”
He didn’t expect his chance to arrive in just a few months, but Sadler joked he knew that sooner or later he’d be back in Arkansas “with its 95-degree temperatures, copperheads and days where I do see the sun,” as Sadler put it in a Facebook post.
The brief stint in Alaska was worthwhile but personal commitments and a chance to shape Little Rock’s communications strategy at a crucial time convinced him it was time to return, Sadler said. The Trumann native was based in central Arkansas as a Stephens Media reporter and as a member of the public relations team at Ghidotti of Little Rock. A Trumann native, he got his start as a reporter for the Jonesboro Sun.
“I’ve lived in Little Rock for most of my adult life, and it keeps drawing me back,” Sadler said. “I expect to hit the ground running.”
In a statement, the mayor said his office was “certainly pleased to have someone of Aaron’s breadth of experience joining our team, helping us keep the people of our city informed on all the work we are doing to unite, grow and transform Little Rock.”
Sadler’s arrival comes as the mayor’s office tries to calm a feud with factions of the Police Department and faces continuing problems with violent crime. He’ll be filling the shoes of Stephanie Jackson, who was Scott’s spokesman until earlier this year. Jackson has returned to duties as director of public and media relations at The Design Group in Little Rock.
Also on Wednesday, Scott named Dionne Jackson, previously Little Rock’s chief equity officer, as interim chief education officer. In that post, she will succeed Jay Barth immediately.
“We appreciate the remarkable foundation Dr. Barth has laid in his work as Chief Education Officer, particularly in developing and implementing our community schools model with the Little Rock School District,” Scott’s statement said. “That work, along with the numerous projects … such as our summer literacy program, digital equity, and various grants, will be in capable hands under Dr. Jackson’s leadership while we search for a permanent successor.”
Dionne Jackson, who joined the city in April 2021, is a former Little Rock educator, executive director of AR Kids Read and former chief diversity officer of Hendrix College.