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Meet the Secretary

Meet the Secretary

Cabinet Secretary Cindy Gillespie

Cindy Gillespie joined the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) in March 2016. In her capacity, she serves as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. She is responsible for leadership and oversight of the department’s efforts, which support the health and well-being of all Arkansans, especially those who are most in need. Before joining DHS, Gillespie served as a Principal in the Washington D.C. office of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice and a leader of the firm’s Health Policy and Health Insurance Exchange Teams. Earlier, Gillespie served as a senior advisor to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, where she led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts interactions with the federal government and oversaw development and implementation of the Administration’s executive branch initiatives, including playing a leading role in the development of Massachusetts health reforms. Prior to her government service in Massachusetts, Ms. Gillespie served as a senior executive for the not-for-profit Salt Lake Olympic Committee, responsible for hosting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games and as a director at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the non-profit hosting the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. She was recognized both nationally and internationally for her leadership in developing a unique public-private partnership between federal, state, local government and the organizing committees for staging the Games in the U.S. She is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, TN and has a Master’s Degree from Auburn University in Alabama. She is a native of Columbus, Georgia. Click here to request that the secretary speak at your event.

Meet the Secretary’s Team

Deputy Director for Youth and Families

Keesa Smith

Keesa M. Smith serves as the Deputy Director for Youth and Families, overseeing all youth-related divisions. Before joining DHS, Keesa served as the Chairwoman of the Arkansas Board of Review after being appointed by Governor Mike Beebe in November 2011. Keesa previously served on Beebe’s communication and external affairs teams, as deputy legal counsel, liaison to the Public Service Commission, and State Implementation Director for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In this role, she was responsible for ensuring that the stimulus funds allocated to the State of Arkansas were used in accordance with the federal mandates. Keesa is the first African American woman to hold the position of Deputy Legal Counsel to the Governor of Arkansas. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, she served as staff attorney for the Center of Arkansas Legal Services. Keesa earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication with a concentration in public relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law in 2005. A North Carolina native, Keesa was named one of the 2013 Central Arkansas Heart Association Survivors and was one of Arkansas Business’ 40 under 40 in 2013.

Deputy Director of Health and State Medicaid Director

Dawn Stehle

Dawn Stehle serves as the Deputy Director for Health and State Medicaid Director. In this role, Dawn oversees the divisions of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services, County Operations, Developmental Disabilities Services, Provider Services & Quality Assurance, and Medical Services. Prior to becoming Deputy Director in September 2016, Dawn served in several other positions during her tenure at DHS. She began her career at DHS in August 2006 as a Policy and Planning Fellow in the Director’s Office and subsequently served as a Policy Analyst, Senior Policy Analyst, and eventually the Director of Policy and Planning prior to transitioning into the Division of Medical Services in April 2012. She initially served as the Director of Health Care Innovation before becoming the Division Director. Prior to joining DHS, Dawn served in a variety of capacities within and outside the U.S. conducting research, providing technical assistance, and coordinating care and treatment for seniors, intellectually/developmentally disabled adults, and visually impaired consumers, among others. She has earned Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and social work, a Master of Public Service, and a Doctor of Public Health.


Cindy GillespieDHS Secretary501-682-8650
Fax: 501-682-6836
Keesa SmithDeputy Director of Children & Youth501-682-8999
Dawn StehleDeputy Director of Health & Medicaid Director501-682-8999
Misty EubanksChief Financial Officer501-320-6327
Gavin LesnickInterim Chief Communications and Community Engagement501-320-6228
Mark WhiteChief of Staff, Legal and Legislative Affairs501-682-8650
Courtney BrownAssistant to the Secretary501-682-8650
Dominique ParkerAssistant to the Communication Officer and Legislative Affairs501-682-8650
Candace CulbertsonAssistant to the Deputy Directors501-682-8999

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