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Cindy Gillespie resigning after 6 years heading Arkansas DHS

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics
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File photo of Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie speaking on “Talk Business & Politics” on June 12, 2016.

Cindy Gillespie is resigning as director of the Department of Human Services, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in a press release on Thursday. She will be leaving the office Oct. 7. The release said Hutchinson will announce her successor at a later date.

The press release did not give a reason for Gillespie’s leaving. It did quote her saying, “Although it is bittersweet to leave, I appreciate the governor understanding that family must always come first, so I will need to depart in October.”

Hutchinson brought Gillespie to Arkansas in 2016. She had been a senior advisor to then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, where she oversaw the Romney administration’s executive branch initiatives and helped develop the state’s health reforms. She earlier had been a senior executive on the committee responsible for hosting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, and was a director of the non-profit committee hosting the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Her last job before coming to Arkansas was serving as a principal in the Washington D.C. office of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice. She also was a leader of its Health Policy and Health Insurance Exchange Teams. The native of Columbus, Ga., is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville and has a master’s degree from Auburn University.

“In 2016, when Governor Hutchinson offered me the role leading the Arkansas Department of Human Services, I could not have imagined all that would happen in the coming years, nor did I realize how quickly Arkansas would become my home and the employees at DHS become my family,” she said in the release.

“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. ‘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.”

Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics.