She’ll be Transformation, Shared Services secretary
by Michael R. Wickline | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
September 6, 2023
FILE — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is shown in this Nov. 16, 2022 file photo. (AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has named an aide in the governor’s office, Leslie Fisken, as secretary of the state Department of Transformation and Shared Services, replacing Joseph Wood, who is now the chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, Sanders announced Tuesday.
Fisken has served as director of cabinet affairs for Sanders, according to the governor’s office. She previously served as the chief of legislative affairs for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism in Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration and as an education policy adviser to Hutchinson, and worked in governmental relations at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“For the past eight months, Leslie has successfully united every agency in my administration around our shared goal to make bold, transformational change for the people of Arkansas,” Sanders said in a news release. “She is a hard worker with a deep understanding of how state government works, both of which make her eminently qualified to serve as Secretary of Transformation and Shared Services.”
Fisken said in the news release it’s “been the honor of a lifetime to serve as Governor Sanders’ Director of Cabinet Affairs and bring together all our state agencies around her bold, conservative agenda.
“I’m excited to take that experience to the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, where I’ll continue my work to improve our agencies and serve the people of Arkansas,” she said.
Fisken also served as a member of the Little Rock School District Board of Education, according to the governor’s office. She is a graduate of Little Rock Central High School, earned her bachelor of arts degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and received her juris doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.
Fisken’s salary as secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services “is still being settled,” Sanders spokeswoman Alexa Henning said Tuesday.
Wood’s salary as secretary of the department has been $172,000 a year, according to the Arkansas Transparency website. The website shows Fisken’s salary in the governor’s office is $125,985 a year.
The Department of Transformation and Shared Services is the administrative arm of Arkansas state government and its primary focus is to identify efficiencies and cost-saving measures to streamline operations while providing optimal service to the state, according to the department’s website.
Over the past few years, some lawmakers have maintained the department hasn’t saved the state much money and questioned whether some parts of the department should be placed back under control of the state Department of Finance and Administration.
The Department of Transformation and Shared Services currently has 342 employees, according to the department’s chief of staff Alex Johnston.
The department includes the Office of State Procurement, Office of Personnel Management, Division of Information Systems, Geographic Information Systems, Division of Building Authority, the Employee Benefits Division, and Arkansas State Surplus, Johnston said. Arkansas State Surplus oversees the redistribution and sale of state surplus property between state agencies, tax-supported entities, not for profit, and to the general public.
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