Executive group named for new Arkansas Department of Commerce

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,746 views 

Mike Preston, secretary of the newly formed Arkansas Department of Commerce (ADOC), has named the executive management group for the state agency that includes the Economic Development Commission and State Banking Department.

ADOC, officially stood up on July 1, is part of the “reorganization and transformation” plan Gov. Asa Hutchinson was able to get approved during the 2019 General Assembly. The 10 agencies and regulatory boards under ADOC include Development Finance Authority, Division of Aeronautics, Division of Workforce Services, Economic Development Commission, Insurance Department, Office of Skills Development, Securities Department, State Bank Department, Waterways Commission and Wine Producers Council.

“The Department of Commerce is bringing together outstanding professionals, resources and programs from 10 different state agencies as we launch a new era of efficiency, responsiveness and service to the people of Arkansas,” Preston said in a statement provided Tuesday (July 2). “It is essential, therefore, that we have effective leaders in place to successfully guide our 1,500 employees through this transformation process.”

Following are those announced, in addition to Secretary Preston, as the ADOC executive group.

• Betty Anderson, chief of staff
She most recently was director of organizational efficiencies at Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and has more than four decades of experience in state government, ranging from human resources to grants management, training and business process design.

• Steven Porch, chief legal counsel
He has served in various capacities of state government and was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as Circuit Judge of the 10th Judicial District, Fourth Division for 2017-18. He was formerly a prosecutor in Monticello and managing attorney for the 10th Judicial District Office of the Public Defender.

• Alisha Curtis, chief communications and legislative director
She most recently was executive assistant to Gov. Hutchinson and special projects director and liaison to AEDC. She has experience prior to state government in banking and fundraising, along with many volunteer civic projects and programs she’s led and been part of in the last five years.

• Courtney Traylor, chief financial officer
She has served as assistant deputy insurance commissioner for the state since 2015 and facilitated a culture change in the Insurance Department accounting division that embraced knowledge sharing and training opportunities, and focused on improvements and efficiencies.

• Dr. Nathan Smith, Ph.D., director of research.
He moves over from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) where he has worked as the director for the division of economic policy. He is an economic analyst with expertise in tax policy, workforce development, data governance and analytics, international development and the economics of technological change.

• Melissa Adams, executive assistant to the Secretary
She has many years of experience in state government, as an administrative and executive assistant. She has most recently served as liaison to the Arkansas Economic Development Council board members while maintaining all minutes and records for the council, and has managed agency, assets, procurement and human resources activities, special projects and travel for executive staff.

“This leadership team was assembled without creating new positions and is in accordance with the efficiencies Gov. Hutchinson desires to achieve as he transforms state government,” Preston said.