Six officials are joining the executive team at the Arkansas Department of Commerce. Mike Preston, the Secretary of Commerce, announced the appointment of these six individuals, who assumed their roles Monday, July 1.
The six individuals include Betty Anderson, Steven Porch, Alisha Curtis, Courtney Traylor, Nathan Smith and Melissa Adams.
Anderson will serve as chief of staff for the Department of Commerce. Prior to her new position, she served as director of organizational efficiencies at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). Her background is in state government, where she has four decades of experience in fields ranging from human resources to business process design.
Porch will be serving as chief legal counsel for the department. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Porch to serve as Circuit Judge of the 10th Judicial District, Fourth Division for 2017-18, and also served as a prosecutor in Monticello and a managing attorney at the 10th Judicial District Office of the Public Defender.
Curtis has been named chief communications and legislative director for the Commerce Department. She most recently served as executive assistant for the governor and as a special projects director and liaison to AEDC.
Traylor will be the chief financial officer for the department. Since 2015, she has served as the assistant deputy insurance commissioner for the state.
Nathan Smith, Ph.D., will serve the department as its director of research, where he will provide his expertise in tax policy, workforce development, international development and more. He is moving to the Commerce Department from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA), where he was the director of the economic policy division.
Adams will serve as the Secretary of Commerce’s executive assistant. She formerly was a liaison for Arkansas Economic Development Council board members.
“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. “It is essential, therefore, that we have effective leaders in place to successfully guide our 1,500 employees through this transformation process.”
Under the Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019, Hutchinson consolidated the number of cabinet-level agencies in the state government, reducing the number from 42 to 15. Hutchinson signed the bill in April, and the consolidation officially took effect on July 1.
The Department of Commerce is one of the 15 cabinet-level agencies, and Mike Preston has been appointed to lead the department. The newly formed department will encompass the Arkansas Economics Development Commission,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.
“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.