Brian Chilson
Brian Chilson
ANNOUNCING CABINET: Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Credit: Brian Chilson

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced the 15 “secretaries” of the cabinet created by reorganization of government departments. No big surprises.

Some state employees were undoubted watching nervously.

One prediction on an uncertain spot proved correct: Stacy Hurst, current Heritage director, will head the interim-led Parks and Tourism Department after its combination with Heritage.

Watch it here.

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UPDATE: No big changes. Wendy Kelley, the current Correction Department director, will be on top of the combination of her department with the Community Correction  Department. There’d been some concern that Kevin Murphy, who heads community correction, might wind up on top. His past record, including a recent unflattering audit on conflicts of interest in operating an unregulated insurance organization, argued against his elevation.

The governor didn’t bring the secretaries in for the announcement. The changes take place July 1. The combination of some 40 agencies to 15 will then commence. Great efficiency and “transformation” are promised.

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Here’s the governor’s news release:

Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced the names of the secretaries who will lead the 15 cabinets he created as part of his plan to transform state government.
Under Act 910 of 2019, the secretaries will assume leadership of the new cabinets on July 1. These new cabinets will replace the current 42 executive-level agencies.
“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,” Governor 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.”
Of the 15 cabinet secretaries, seven are women. That represents the highest percentage (47%) of women in cabinet appointments in Arkansas history. This is the first reorganization of Arkansas state government in nearly 50 years.
The new secretaries, the cabinet each will lead, and links to their respective bios and headshots are below. To view the full list online, click HERE.
The official start date for all secretaries is July 1, 2019.
  • Secretary of the Department of Agriculture – Wes Ward
    Ward currently serves the state as the Secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD).
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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. 
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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).
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • Secretary of the Department of Health – Dr. Nathaniel Smith
    Smith currently serves the state as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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). 
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • Secretary of the Department of the Military – Major General Mark H. Berry
    General Berry is the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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.
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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. 
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.
  • 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).
  • Click HERE for Headshot.
  • Click HERE for Bio.