Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Larry Walther as the new director of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), Jami Cook as the new director of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, State Sen. Bruce Holland as the new director of Livestock and Poultry, Leon Jones, Jr. as the new director of the Arkansas Department of Labor and Dr. Charisse Childers as the new director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education.
Hutchinson said he will keep Joe Fox as State Forester at the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
“Joe has done an outstanding job in his current role as State Forester for the Arkansas Forestry Commission,” Hutchinson said. “His expertise in this field makes him the ideal choice, and I am pleased to announce that he will continue as State Forester in my administration.”
Joe Fox has held the title of State Forester since May of 2012. Prior to that, Fox was the director of Conservation Forestry for the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas from 2000 to 2012. Fox was the Chairman of the Forestry Commission from 1995 to 96 and President of the Forestry Association from 1990 to 1991. He is a native of Pine Bluff, a graduate of North Carolina State, and he lives in Little Rock.
Larry Walther, the new director of the Department of Finance and Administration, was most recently a member of the board of directors for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He was nominated by President Obama on July 21, 2011, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 1, 2011, and sworn into office on November 14, 2011, for a term expiring on January 20, 2013. Prior to that, Walther served as Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Prior to his assignment at USTDA, Walther served as Director of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development (ADED) under former Gov. Mike Huckabee. Previously, Walther had an extensive career with SBC Communications, now AT&T, concluding his 30-year career as the Vice President for Corporate Services and Chairman of the SBC Foundation. Walther lives in Little Rock.
“I am pleased to announce Larry Walther as the new Director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration,” Hutchinson said. “The breadth of experience Larry has gathered over the course of his career, along with his institutional knowledge of state government have prepared him for this new role, and I have no doubt he will represent our state and this department well.”
Jami Cook, the new director of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, has been the Arkansas State Police Program Director for the past 10 years. She started her law enforcement career as a Newport Police officer in 1994 and has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. She holds a Senior Law Enforcement Certificate from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. In 2009, Cook was appointed as a Commissioner to the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. Cook is a graduate of Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She lives in Sheridan.
“Jami has the knowledge, experience and management capabilities necessary to lead the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training as its new director,” Hutchinson said. “I am confident in her abilities and know she will make Arkansas and our law enforcement community proud.”
State Sen. Bruce Holland, the new director of Livestock and Poultry, has made his living as a full time cattleman since 2005. He was born and raised in south Sebastian County where his family has made their living raising cattle for six generations dating back to the early 1800s. Holland has served on several boards and committees serving agriculture on county, state, and national levels, including: past President Sebastian County Farm Bureau, Sebastian County Fair Association, Farm Service Agency Farmer Elected Committee (Chairman for Crawford, Scott, and Sebastian Counties), past vice president of Sebastian County Cattlemen’s Association, director of Farmers Cooperative in Van Buren, and Ag Governance Council for the Land O’Lake’s Corporation (one of four producers on a nine member board representing 14 states). Holland was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and has served as chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee. He lives in Greenwood.
“Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, and a critical staple of our economy,” Hutchinson said. “Bruce’s background in animal agriculture and experience in the legislature have prepared him for this new opportunity as the new Director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. I am confident in Bruce’s work, and I know he will represent our state and the industry well.”
Leon Jones, Jr., the new director of the Arkansas Department of Labor, is in private legal practice. He also serves as a Commissioner with the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission and the Arkansas Housing Trust Fund and most recently served as a Commissioner with the Fayetteville Housing Authority.
“Leon is not only a good friend, but he is a good leader, which is why I am pleased to announce him as the new director of the Arkansas Department of Labor,” Hutchinson said. “I previously named Leon as my policy director, but his background and law expertise have provided him with the experience and knowledge needed to lead this department, and I am delighted that he has agreed to take on this new role. I know he will represent our state and my administration well.”
Jones, a native of Pine Bluff, began working as a stocker at a local grocery store in high school, and he held several positions in the retail and restaurant industry and taught high school prior to attending law school.
Jones was Hutchinson’s Minority Outreach Coordinator during Hutchison’s campaign for governor, and was named policy director. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Dr. Charisee Childers, the new director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education, has served for nine years as the executive director of Accelerate Arkansas, an eighty member statewide group of business and education leaders dedicated to knowledge-based economic development in Arkansas. She served on the Arkansas State Police Commission for seven years and currently is the vice chairman of the Arkansas State Police Foundation. She has been a finalist and received two nominations as non-profit executive of the year by Arkansas Business. She is currently the vice president of the Arkansas State Alumni Association, a member of the EAST (Environment and Spatial Technology) Initiative Advisory Council, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Childers earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business from Arkansas State University and earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas. She lives in Little Rock.
“I am pleased to announce Dr. Charisse Childers as the new Director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education, Hutchinson said. “She recognizes the critical nature career education plays in our economy, and she has the experience necessary to lead this department under my administration. I have no doubt she will serve this position well.”