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Secretary of Commerce-Designate Mike Preston names Charisse Childers Director of Division of Workforce Services

 May 23, 2019

For Media Inquiries:
Brandi Hinkle – Director of Communications
Arkansas Economic Development Commission
501-519-7382 mobile or [email protected] 
Secretary of Commerce-Designate Mike Preston names Charisse Childers 
Director of Division of Workforce Services

Mike Preston, Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Executive Director and newly-appointed Secretary of Commerce, announced today Charisse Childers, Ph.D., will be the Director of the Division of Workforce Services (DWS) when it becomes part of the Department of Commerce on July 1.

“One of the goals of transformation was to bring together like agencies, and it makes sense to put together economic development and workforce services,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Bringing in high-paying, skilled jobs and having a pipeline of ready workers will keep Arkansas prosperous. I feel confident with Secretary-Designate Preston and Director Childers leading the charge, we will be well-suited to compete for projects that will suit our communities and workforce now and for generations to come.”

As part of Governor Hutchinson’s government transformation, AEDC and DWS will become one of several agencies within Commerce in the new fiscal year. Others include the Division of Aeronautics, Arkansas Waterways Commission, Arkansas Wine Producers Council, Office of Skills Development, Development Finance Authority, Insurance Department, State Bank Department and Securities Department.

“Charisse is the natural fit for this role,” Preston said. “A lifelong Arkansan, she also has 30 years of experience in education, business, government, non-profits, and economic development. I have had the pleasure of working with her on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet for the past four years and know firsthand that she has what it takes to guide us through this next phase in our continuing mission to improve educational and economic opportunities for all Arkansans.”

Childers said, “It is an honor to continue to serve under Governor Hutchinson and the leadership of Secretary-Designate Preston.  We will be focused on economic growth and strengthening our workforce through education and training.  We have numerous opportunities ahead, and I look forward to the transformation of our state agencies and the future of Arkansas.”

Childers currently serves as the director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education, having been appointed to the post by Governor Hutchinson in January 2015. In this capacity, she leads almost 500 employees and oversees workforce training, adult education, career and technical education, and rehabilitation services for the state of Arkansas, including the coordination and oversight of $170 million in federal and state funds.

From 2006 through 2014, Childers was 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. In 2014, she was recognized by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as one of 40 non-profit leaders in the state based on her accomplishments and strong leadership traits that exemplify the legacy of Governor Rockefeller and who are contributing to moving the needle in Arkansas.

Childers currently serves on the Advance Career and Technical Education (CTE) Board of Directors as the At-Large State Director and in 2016, received the “Rising Star” award by Advance CTE. She also serves on the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute Board of Trustees, and is a commissioner on the Education Commission of the States. She is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and the five-member Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.


About Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC)
Created in 1955 to make Arkansas more competitive in the post-World War II era, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating positive growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. For more information, visit www.ArkansasEDC.com.

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