Kristi Putnam became the Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Human Services in January 2023. She has more than 20 years of policy and hands-on experience in human services, early childhood services, education, workforce development, and health policy, including implementation of Kentucky’s Medicaid transformation and several other innovative statewide policy and process initiatives.
Kristi has provided policy and strategy guidance to several legislative leaders, including House leadership in the Kentucky House of Representatives, federal agencies, such as The Administration for Children & Families’ Office of Family Assistance, and many state Health & Human Services agencies.
Kristi served in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), beginning in March 2016 in the child welfare and family assistance office. After serving with CHFS for two years and leading Medicaid
Section 1115 waiver innovation efforts, she was appointed in May 2018 to serve as Deputy Secretary of CHFS, where she served until December 2019. In this role, Kristi helped lead impactful and collaborative cross-cabinet reforms in health policy, public benefits delivery, human-centered design and workforce strategies, operational technology improvements, child welfare, and education supports. She assisted in leading daily operations for CHFS, a cabinet with more than 8,000 employees and an operating budget of over $14 billion.
After her time at CHFS, Kristi co-founded Connecting the Dots Policy Solutions, a policy consulting group focused on driving government innovations in the intersection of health, human services, education, workforce development, and economic growth.
Kristi also served as the Child Welfare Services Manager, Chief of Community-Based Care, and Statewide Foster Care Licensing Specialist in Florida’s privatized community-based system of foster care and adoption. Her prior experience in Florida included policy and legislative development and implementation in the Department of Education, Department for Children and Families, the Florida Partnership for School Readiness, and Executive Office of the Governor.
Most recently, Kristi served as the Chief People Officer for AppHarvest, a publicly traded agtech startup in Kentucky.
Kristi was born and raised in the small town of DeLand, Florida, graduated from DeLand High School, and earned her Bachelor’s degree in English and Social Work from Florida State University. She also earned a Master’s degree in Psychology in Industrial & Organizational Change from Southern New Hampshire University.
Kristi and her husband Claude have three adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Meet the Secretary’s Team
Deputy Secretary for Programs and State Medicaid Director
Janet Mann has over twenty years’ experience in healthcare and healthcare finance. She has worked in the public and private sector for multiple states and clients. Janet has served as the Division Director for DHS’s Division of Medical Services overseeing the Medicaid operations before and during the beginning of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency until April 2021. She also served as DHS’s Chief Financial Officer for a year in 2017. In addition, Janet was a Deputy Administrator for Medicaid in Mississippi during Governor Haley Barbour’s administration, 2006-2010. Janet has worked in the private sector focused on healthcare and public sector for several entities throughout her career but most recently at Horne LLP in Ridgeland, Mississippi. While consulting, Janet worked closely with other states implementing public policies and programs in areas of program integrity, managed care, audit and compliance and financial processes. Janet holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Alabama and is a Certified Public Accountant. Janet has been married to Doug for over 29 years and has 2 grown children, Sydney and Will.
Deputy Secretary for Operations and Budget for the Department
Misty Eubanks serves as the Deputy Secretary for Operations and Budget for the Department. Misty has served in several other roles at DHS, including Chief Business Officer, Chief Procurement Officer, DHS Privacy Officer, and supervising attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel specializing in child welfare, adult protective services, and agency administrative hearings. Misty has litigated as a child welfare attorney representing DHS in the 11th West Judicial District. She also practiced privately, serving as a part-time attorney ad litem in dependency-neglect cases, representing juveniles and families in divorce, child custody, child support, and visitation cases. Misty earned her undergraduate degree from Hendrix College and her Juris Doctorate from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. In addition to her work at DHS, Misty has been a member of the Arkansas State CASA Advisory Board and was the 2013 section chair for the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Section of the Arkansas Bar Association.
Director of Specialty Medicaid Services
Melissa Weatherton serves as the Director of Specialty Medicaid Services. In this role, she oversees specialty Medicaid programs with a specific focus on the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS), and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (OSAMH). Melissa previously served as the Director of DDS. Melissa started her career at DHS in the agency’s legal department, holding several positions including deputy chief counsel where she oversaw policy, contracts, and legislation for DHS. She also has extensive knowledge of child welfare from her work in the legal department representing the child welfare agency as well as children in the foster care system. She has been a licensed attorney since 2005 and a volunteer with the non-profit organization, Project Zero, since 2006. She has been Chairman of the Project Zero board since 2011.
|Kristi Putnam||DHS Secretary||501-682-8650 |
|Vacant||Deputy Secretary for Youth and Families|
|Janet Mann||Deputy Secretary for Programs and State Medicaid Director||501-682-8999|
|Delisa Rader||Assistant to Deputy Director Youth and Families and Deputy Director Health & State Medicaid Director||501-682-8999|
|Misty Eubanks||Deputy Secretary for Operations and Budget for the Department||501-320-6327|
|Melissa Weatherton||Director of Specialty Medicaid Services||501-682-8665|
|Gavin Lesnick||Chief of Communications and Community Engagement||501-320-6228|
|Amy Webb||Medicaid Control Center Director||501-682-8650|
|Courtney Brown||Assistant to the Secretary||501-682-8650|