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Former DHS deputy director tapped to guide Arkansas Advocates

Keesa Smith, former deputy director of the state Division of Human Companies, has been chosen to helm Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families, the longtime public coverage and advocacy group. She replaces Wealthy Huddleston, who introduced his retirement final yr after virtually 20 years as government director.

From a launch:

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Advocates for Youngsters and Households (AACF), the statewide, nonprofit public coverage and advocacy group, as we speak introduced that Keesa Smith has been named Govt Director.

When Smith assumes the position on February 20, she shall be answerable for creating and serving to the AACF workforce execute a imaginative and prescient for AACF that embodies its legacy of groundbreaking change and bettering the lives and well-being of Arkansas’s kids and households, and decreasing racial disparities throughout the state.

“We’re grateful that, after a protracted and cautious search, now we have a brand new government director,” stated Ryan Davis, AACF Board of Administrators President. “Keesa has a robust dedication to the youngsters and households of Arkansas, and he or she is ready to guide AACF to new heights.”

Smith shall be solely the fifth Govt Director in AACF’s 45-year historical past. The earlier administrators had been Jo Luck, 1978-1979; Don Crary, 1979-1988; Amy Rossi, 1988-2003; and Wealthy Huddleston, 2004-2022.

“I’m excited and stay up for persevering with AACF’s lengthy historical past of advocating on behalf of our state’s most weak inhabitants, our kids,” stated Smith. “For greater than 45 years, AACF has performed a key position in protecting kids’s points on the forefront of individuals’s minds. I can’t wait to start this new position and proceed the work of bettering the lives of Arkansas’s kids and households.”

Smith labored for the Arkansas Division of Human Companies from 2013 till 2023 because the Deputy Director of Youth and Households. In that position, she oversaw the divisions answerable for the state’s youngster welfare, juvenile justice and early teaching programs throughout a time of great transformation.

Throughout her time with DHS, Smith additionally served because the company’s appointee on a number of boards and commissions, and because the Secretary’s designee on the Supreme Courtroom Fee on Youngsters, Youth and Households, and in her personal capability for the Racial Justice Taskforce and the Arkansas Courtroom Enchancment Program Advisory Council. Smith additionally served as Deputy Authorized Counsel for former Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, as a workers lawyer on the Heart for Arkansas Authorized Companies, and as a college teacher in Enterprise and Constitutional Regulation.

Earlier than serving at DHS, Smith led the Division of Workforce Companies’ Board of Assessment, overhauling processes that eradicated a backlog of greater than 4,000 unemployment appeals and reducing the wait time for purchasers for an company response from 14 months to 23 days.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Juris Doctorate from the College of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen Faculty of Regulation. She is a member of the Pulaski County Bar Affiliation; the Harold Flowers Regulation Society; the Beta Pi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc; the inaugural class of the Arkansas Bar Affiliation Management Academy Program; Class XXVI of the Better Little Rock Management program; and he or she is a 2021 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow.

Jennifer Ferguson and Laura Kellams, who’ve been appearing as interim co-executive administrators, will return as Deputy Director and Northwest Arkansas Director, respectively, although Kellams will proceed to supply legislative advocacy management throughout the 2023 legislative session.

About Arkansas Advocates for Youngsters and Households

Arkansas Advocates for Youngsters and Households is a statewide, nonprofit youngster advocacy group established in 1977. Our mission is to make sure that all kids and their households have the sources and alternatives to guide wholesome and productive lives and to appreciate their full potential. For extra info, go to aradvocates.org

The submit Former DHS deputy director tapped to lead Arkansas Advocates appeared first on Arkansas Times.