AR Briefly

Arkansas DHS secretary to resign next month

By: - September 15, 2022 5:18 pm

Cindy Gillespie, the secretary of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, will resign next month.

Gillespie, who came to Arkansas in 2016 to lead DHS, oversaw several major reforms of Arkansas’ Medicaid programs, particularly its version of Medicaid expansion, now called ARHOME.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Gillespie’s resignation in a Thursday afternoon news release. Hutchinson is term-limited and will leave office in January. There is often turnover among cabinet-level officials, who serve at the pleasure of the governor, between administrations.

Cindy Gillespie (Arkansas Department of Human Services)

Officials did not provide a reason for Gillespie’s resignation nor information about her next steps. However, she did say in a statement that she appreciated the governor’s understanding that “family must always come first, so I will need to depart in October.”

“Cindy Gillespie has given the state of Arkansas her experience, management capabilities, and the right ideas that have led us in a great direction,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “She is a great friend, and she is truly passionate about making a difference in the lives of Arkansans every day.”

Gillespie, whose last day is Oct. 7, said leaving will be “bittersweet.”

“The last six years have been the most challenging and rewarding of my career and I am extraordinarily proud of all the incredible DHS team has accomplished over these years,” she said. “’We care, we act, we change lives’ is more than a motto at DHS — it’s truly the mission my co-workers live each day as they go to work in our facilities, our offices, and in the homes of families and individuals in need.”

Hutchinson said he would announce Gillespie’s replacement at a later date.

DHS is one of the largest state agencies. It administers the state’s Medicaid programs, oversees the care of those with disabilities, cares for incarcerated juveniles, runs Arkansas’ foster care program and regulates the state nursing home industry among other responsibilities.

Prior to arriving in Arkansas, Gillespie worked as a senior advisor former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. She also worked for the groups responsible for hosting the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. He spent the better part of the last decade investigating and reporting on Arkansas government and politics. For three years, he covered education policy, medical marijuana and the Arkansas General Assembly as part of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Capitol Bureau. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. Hunter got his start in journalism covering sports for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.