ARS Leadership (click here)
Governor Asa Hutchinson
Asa Hutchinson was elected as the 46th Governor of Arkansas on November 4, 2014, winning 55% of the vote.
Raised on a farm near Gravette, Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson is no stranger to dedication, perseverance, and hard work. During law school, he started dating his college sweetheart Susan and hitchhiked to see her in Memphis where she was teaching. Although not making the best impression with his mode of transportation, they will be celebrating 40 years of marriage this year. Susan and Asa have four children and five grandchildren.
Governor Hutchinson Asa and Susan love every corner of Arkansas. From the timberlands in the South to the hill country in the North and from the rice fields of the Delta to the small communities in the Ozarks, Arkansas is home sweet home. After graduating from the University of Arkansas Law School, Asa practiced law in Bentonville. At the age of 31, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the youngest United States Attorney in the nation. As United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Asa successfully prosecuted drug traffickers, white-collar criminals and a terrorist group known as the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord (CSA), a white supremacist organization in northwest Arkansas. After a three-day standoff between law enforcement and the CSA, Asa personally helped negotiate a peaceful surrender of James Ellison and other members of the Neo-Nazi group.
Asa has been a cornerstone for the Arkansas Republican Party for many years. Through his leadership as State Party Chairman in the early 1990's, the state GOP grew and initiated numerous reforms that became the foundation for today's two party system. He championed efforts in election reform, ultimately leading to public funding for primary elections and easier access to the polls. Asa also challenged the status quo in Arkansas from the unconstitutional formation of a partisan ethics commission to congressional districts that diluted minority votes.
Governor Hutchinson Hunting Asa practiced law all over the state of Arkansas for 21 years before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 1996. While in Congress, Asa was an early supporter of out patient treatment centers for our veterans in Arkansas and concentrated on greater highway funding for the state. Asa also supported tax reductions for the first time in 16 years and a balanced budget. In 2001, when Asa left Congress, our nation had its last balanced budget.
After being elected to his third term in Congress, President George W. Bush appointed Asa as Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2001. In January, 2003, Asa was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the first Under Secretary of the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.
Asa has spent the majority of his career in the private sector as a small business owner, lawyer and entrepreneur. He serves on the board of directors of two companies and as advisor to numerous others. Asa's record in business and public service gives him a unique background to serve the people of Arkansas as Governor.
Director for Arkansas Career Education
Having spent all of her life in Arkansas, raised in Blytheville and now living in Little Rock, Dr. Charisse Childers is always working to make a difference in the lives of others. Her experiences, knowledge,and unwavering enthusiasm are demonstrated in everything that she does. With 30 years of years of work and personal experience in business, education, law enforcement, non-profits and economic development, she has built friendships and has contacts in all parts of the state.
After graduating from Blytheville High School, Dr. Childers worked her way through college at Arkansas State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1988. Realizing that she wanted to continue her education and that additional education and training would open up greater opportunities, she later earned master’s and specialist’s degrees from Arkansas State University. Then at the age of 42,she graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Public Policy.
Dr. Childers’ career began in secondary and post secondary education – giving her an opportunity to work with students and demonstrate the importance of an education. In addition to serving on a national education board and being recognized for her exemplary work in post secondary education, she has written and administered federal, state, and local grants and has been a federal grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education.
She served from 2006–2014 as the executive director of Accelerate Arkansas, an 80-member statewide group of business and education leaders dedicated to knowledge-based economic development in the state of Arkansas.She was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education in January 2015. She will continue working with leaders around the state on education and economic development policy and career and educational services that prepare our youth and adults for jobs while meeting the needs of our businesses in Arkansas.
Most recently, Dr.Childers was recognized by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as one of 40 non-profit leaders in the state and is featured in the publications that celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Foundation and The Year of the Non profit Leader. The Foundation honors those whose accomplishments and strong leadership exemplify the legacy of Governor Rockefeller and who are contributing to moving the needle in Arkansas.
Dr. Childers served on the Arkansas State Police Commission for seven years and currently is the vice-chairman of the Arkansas State Police Foundation. She has been a finalist and received two nominations as non-profit executive of the year by Arkansas Business. She is currently vice president of the Arkansas State Alumni Association, a member of the EAST® (Environment and Spatial Technology) Initiative Advisory Council, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Deputy Director for Adult Education
James H. Smith, Jr.,an Arkansas native, graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelors degree in Industrial Arts and a minor in Special Education 1970, and a Masters Vocational Education in 1975. He also earned an Educational Specialist Degree in 1990 from the University of Arkansas. He received the Model-Netics Certification and Instructor Certification in 1985.
From 1970 – 1983, Mr. Smith taught Industrial Arts and Vocational Auto Mechanics at Oak Grove High School. In 1983 he joined the Arkansas Department of Career Education as a Public School Advisor for Trade and Industrial Education and Director of Vocational Industrial Clubs of America. From 1993 – 1999, he was Public School Advisor for Adult Education and from 1997 – 1999, he was the Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE) Director. From 1999 – 2007, he was manager of Arkansas Department of Workforce Education Federal Surplus Property Program. From 2007- 2009, he has served as Deputy Director of Adult Education Department of Workforce Education, Oversight for Adult Education, GED, Federal Surplus Property Program, LESO 1030, GSA 1122, and the Arkansas Adult Education Resource Center. Currently, he is Deputy Director of the Department of Career Education Adult Education Division.
Mr. Smith and his wife Carolyn, have two children, Steve (1973-1990) and Randall.
Interim Deputy Director for Career and Technical Education
Sandra Porter, originally from Missouri, joined the Department of Career Education as Program Manager for Business/Marketing Technology in June 2004. She earned a B.S. Degree in General Business Education from Missouri Southern State University in 1979 and a Master of Education in Vocational Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1991.
Mrs. Porter began her 25-year teaching career in 1979 as a business instructor in Carl Junction, Missouri. After moving to Arkansas in 1985, she served as Director of Students at the Draughon's School of Business in Little Rock for two years. In 1987, she was a business instructor at McClellan High School in Little Rock. From 1989 to 2004, she taught business at Bryant High School.
Mrs. Porter and her husband, Mike, have three daughters, Denise, Sheri and Cathie.
ACTI Administrator - Arkansas Rehabilitation Services
Jonathan Bibb earned a bachelor of science degree in radiology from the University of Central Arkansas in 1995 and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2002. He is a registered radiologic technologist and a graduate of the Arkansas Academy for Public Health Leadership. Prior to his recent promotion to interim ACTI administrator, Bibb was the apprenticeship program manager for ACE. Bibb’s first job in state government was as administrator for the Mammography Accreditation and Compliance Program at the Arkansas Department of Health, a position he held for seven years.
Associate Director for Arkansas Works
Sonja Wright-McMurray was born in Goldsboro, NC. She became an Arkansan after her father’s retirement from the United States Air Force in 1984. Mrs. Wright-McMurray joined the Department of Career Education as Associate Director for Arkansas Works in October 2009. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Mrs. Wright-McMurray also earned a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University.
Mrs. Wright-McMurray began her career as a Career Instructor with the Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) program at the University of Arkansas in 1996. After completing her Master’s degree from the University of Arkansas, she began working at the University of Central Arkansas as a Project Coordinator for Career Services and Cooperative Education in 2001.
In 2002, Mrs. Wright-McMurray moved to Des Moines, IA where she was employed by Simpson College as an Academic Advisor for Upward Bound. In 2004, she was promoted to Director of Simpson College Upward Bound. Mrs. Wright-McMurray returned to Arkansas in 2007 to accept a position at the University of Central Arkansas as Director of Minority Student Services.
Mrs. Wright-McMurray and her husband, Julian, have one son, Jace.
Associate Director for Adult Education
Dr. Trenia Miles is a Pine Bluff native with over 15 years of experience in higher education.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in counseling at the University of Arkansas. She holds an Ed.D. in higher and adult education from the University of Memphis.
Dr. Miles was employed by the University of Arkansas for six years, working in the Career Services program where she held the positions of program coordinator, assistant director, and associate director.
She has worked for Southwest Tennessee Community College Workforce Development Center in Memphis, and later for Mid-South Community College (MSCC) in West Memphis. During her tenure at MSCC, she oversaw the offices of Student Activities, Academic Coaching, Career Services and Disability Services and implemented the Structured Learning Assistance program. While at MSCC, she received, among other honors, the 2008-2009 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award.
Chief Financial Officer
Maria "Lorna" Claudio was born in the Province of Laguna, Philippines. After earning her Accounting Degree from Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the Philippines, she moved with her family to the United States in 1989.
Ms. Claudio began her career at Arkansas Children’s Hospital as an accountant, then worked as a Tax Auditor for the Department of Finance and Administration. Following that, she served as the Finance Manager of Home Health at the Department of Health and also completed the Leadership in Public Administration course during her tenure there. Ms. Claudio accepted a promotion to become the Finance Manager of Health Services Permit Agency where she served as the CFO of the agency for 8 years, a position she held until joining the Department of Career Education in March 2012.
She and her husband Mario have two children, Paulo and Sophia.
Chief Information Officer
Lee Meadows is a native of Pine Bluff, but as the son of an Air Force father, has lived in and out of Arkansas. Meadows earned a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a master of arts in public administration from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Meadows has been recognized by the Computing Technology Industry Association as an A+ Certified Computing Professional.
Prior to joining the Department of Career Education in 2011, Meadows held information technology positions in both the public and private sectors. He has worked in the areas of network/server administration, desktop support, database design and administration, mobile computing, systems administration and management.
Meadows worked in the private sector for Northwestern Mutual Corporate Information Technology Division, Southwest Research Institute and Cental Moloney Inc. His public sector background includes working for the state of Minnesota’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission, Minnesota Region Nine Development Commission, Ramsey County Minnesota Department of Human Services, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He has also served as an adjunct mathematics and computer applications instructor. He and his wife, Mia, have one son, Lee Josiah.
Human Resources Manager
DeCarlia Smith serves as the Human Resources Administrator
for the Arkansas Department of Career Services. She joined the agency in
January of 2012, but has been a state employee for 15 years. Ms. Lewis-Dickens has two Masters Degrees; one in Human Resources Development, the other in Leadership and Management; both from Webster University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management/Business from John Brown University.
Mrs. Smith is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) with The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and a member of the International Public Management Association (IPMA).