Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) has added Pete Gess and Hayley Cormican to its Little Rock office as the new Economic Policy Director and Health Associate, respectively.
Prior to AACF, Gess was professor of Politics and Environmental Policy at Hendrix College. In his more than 16 years at Hendrix, he held various administrative roles, including department chair, director of International Programs, director of the Odyssey Engaged Learning Program, and associate provost for Engaged Learning.
Gess has taught courses in public administration, public policy, and Arkansas politics. He also provides training in organizational ethics and budgeting and finance to state and local government officials through the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium.
Gess will lead AACF on state budget and tax issues and perform data analysis, research, and advocacy to advance policy solutions to address poverty, economic well-being, and a fairer tax code, particularly for Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIPOC) families and families whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold.
Cormican has bachelor’s degrees in English and art from Lyon College in her hometown of Batesville, Arkansas. After obtaining her bachelor’s degrees, she attended the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and earned a Master of Public Service degree as well as a Communications in Public Service graduate certificate. Cormican spent her time at the Clinton School as a graduate student researcher with a variety of organizations including the Brandon House Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Heifer USA, and Home for Healing. Her work with these organizations focused on qualitative data collection, community communications, and organizational capacity building.
Cormican will assist AACF’s Health Policy Director in promoting public policies that improve health care coverage, access, and quality for Arkansas’s children and families. She will collect stories from Medicaid recipients, perform data analyses, write reports and briefs, and assist with outreach and coalition building efforts on health care.
“We are excited to have Pete and Hayley join our staff,” said Keesa Smith, AACF executive director. “Pete’s commitment to bringing equity to the state’s tax system and Hayley’s interest in improving the public health sector will aid us in improving outcomes for Arkansas’s children and families.”
“I have long admired the work of AACF and can think of no more rewarding work than to ensure that all of Arkansas’s children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential.” said Gess. “I’m happy to join the AACF team in advocating for better economic policies in our state.”
“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of this team and look forward to helping AACF’s Health Policy Director in promoting public policies that improve health care coverage, access, and quality for Arkansas’s children and families,” said Cormican.