Icon (Close Menu)

Logout

Video: Governor Names 15 Cabinet Leaders Under Reorganization

4 min read

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday announced secretaries to lead 15 cabinet-level agencies under a reorganization of state government approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

The list includes current leaders of existing departments or divisions, with some entities being combined under the new organizational structure. For example, Stacy Hurst is the current leader of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, which will be combined with the state Department of Parks and Tourism to create the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Hurst will lead the new entity.

The 15 new agencies will replace the current 42 executive-level agencies. Secretaries officially begin work at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1.

“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.”

The department leaders are: 

  • Secretary of the Department of Agriculture – Wes Ward
    Ward is now secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD).
  • Secretary of the Department of Commerce – Michael Preston
    Preston is executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). He will continue to serve in both capacities.
  • Secretary of the Department of Corrections – Wendy Kelley
    Kelley is 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.
  • Secretary of the Department of Education – Johnny Key
    Key is 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. 
  • Secretary of the Department of Energy and Environment – Becky W. Keogh
    Keogh is 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.
  • Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration – Larry W. Walther
    Walther is director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).
  • Secretary of the Department of Health – Dr. Nathaniel Smith
    Smith is director of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
  • Secretary of the Department of Human Services – Cindy Gillespie
    Gillespie is director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). 
  • Secretary of the Department of Inspector General – Elizabeth Thomas Smith
    Smith is the Arkansas Medicaid Inspector General. She will continue to serve in both capacities.
  • Secretary of the Department of Labor and Licensing – Daryl E. Bassett
  • Bassett is director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS), soon to be known as the Division of Workforce Services. 
  • Secretary of the Department of the Military – Major General Mark H. Berry
    Berry is the adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard.
  • Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism – Stacy Hurst
    Hurst is 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.
  • Secretary of the Department of Public Safety – Jami Cook
    Cook is 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.
  • Secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services – Amy Fecher
    Fecher is chief transformation officer of the Governor’s Office of Transformation. 
  • Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs – Colonel (Ret.) Nathaniel (Nate) Todd
    Toddis director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA).

The governor noted that seven of the cabinet leaders are women, representing the highest percentage — 47% — of women in cabinet appointments in Arkansas history.

The governor plans to outline his expectations for each of the 15 secretaries in training sessions over the next six months. The secretaries will be able to restructure their respective departments, but they won’t be able to create additional jobs and spend more money, the governor said.

The secretaries will have 40 days to lay out how their staff and manage their departments, he said.


The governor announced details of the plan last fall ahead of the legislative session, calling it the first comprehensive effort to trim state government since 1972. He said the reorganization will “result in improved delivery of services and will ultimately save the state money and the taxpayer time.”

The plan includes adding Arkansas’ first Department of Inspector General. The governor said in November that the new department would help him “reduce abuse of taxpayer dollars and waste of taxpayer dollars and help us be more efficient.”

Video of the Announcement

Send this to a friend