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Long-time State Attorney Takes Role as Chief of the DHS Office of Appeals and Hearings

06/07/2021

Media Contacts
Amy Webb, Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Gavin Lesnick, Deputy Chief of Communications
gavin.lesnick.dhs@dhs.arkansas.gov

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Human Service (DHS) has tapped long-time attorney Sommer Faulkenberry to serve as the Department’s Chief over the Office of Appeals and Hearings, which handles an average of 7,800 appeals each year. 

The position also is being elevated to serve as part of the DHS executive team because of the important nature of the work and to ensure better coordination in the administrative processing of appeals. DHS also is adding additional positions to the office. 

The Office of Appeals and Hearings employs Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers who hear client appeals related to DHS-administered programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid eligibility, true findings of child maltreatment, service hour changes in ARChoices, Child Care center exclusions, and more.

“Sommer’s hiring is part of a renewed focused on making it easier for our clients to navigate the appeals process,” said DHS Deputy Director Keesa Smith. “To streamline this process for clients, we also knew that it was important to invest in this Office and to provide additional resources.”

Faulkenberry, 42, has served as the Chairman of the Arkansas Board of Review, which oversees unemployment insurance appeals, since 2014. Before that she served as a staff attorney for what was then the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and the Board of Review and conducted administrative law hearings for the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal for four years. 

“I’m excited about this new opportunity to serve the citizens of Arkansas,” Faulkenberry said. “I’ve met the appeals and hearings team and was impressed with their commitment to holding fair and thorough hearings and to serving the state.” 

Faulkenberry started her new role today. She replaces Lech Matuszewski who retired in December 2020. 

She earned her Bachelor of Arts, History, and Political Science from Arkansas Tech in 1998 and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville in 2002. 

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