Alisha Curtis | Arkansas Department of Commerce | Chief Communications & Legislative Director
Beginning Interests… I have a passion for serving my community and the people of Arkansas. My academic background includes a B.A. in mass communications with an emphasis in broadcast television news.
Shortly after finishing college I began engaging and working in party politics which evolved into working for Governor Asa Hutchinson as his executive assistant, special projects director, and economic development liaison. In mid-July of 2019, transformation of state government was enacted, and I was asked to join the Arkansas Department of Commerce as Chief Communications and Legislative Director.
A Day at Work… I am in the business of telling stories. In my role at the Department of Commerce, messaging is everything and getting it out to the public in a timely manner is critical! Staying on the same page in a large department can be challenging because there are many moving parts within our 10 divisions, so it is important to have daily leadership team meetings or huddles to keep our overall message on point.
For me, no workday is the same. Each day presents itself with unique opportunities and obstacles. One thing that remains the same? We are here to serve the people of Arkansas every day.
My role is to identify key issues, problem solve, and illustrate the message of who we are and how we can better serve the public. I focus on relaying our message to members of the legislature, the media, and the public. With the pandemic, our Unemployment Department is one of our top priorities. Each day we work to assist an unprecedented number of Arkansans who have lost their jobs and are fearful of an uncertain future.
Career Evolution… During my tenure with Governor Hutchinson, I learned about STEAM and how it is a part of our everyday lives. I was honored to be a part of a team that coordinated the Governor’s inaugural summit on Computer Science where he brought in other Governors and industry leaders from across the country to highlight what Arkansas is doing in tech.
At the Department of Commerce we know that technology is critical for fueling our education, workforce, and economy. Access to high-speed broadband and strengthening our State’s workforce in technology and computer science has been among our Governor’s top priorities.
Our Department houses the state Broadband Office that has granted awards to 75 totaling over $118-million to rural towns and communities through our Arkansas Rural Connect program. I am proud to be a small part of this process in helping to connect Arkansas and minimize the digital divide through education, telework, and telehealth.
LOVE the Work… I love our close-knit team ! I also love that every day I get to showcase Arkansas. I find it meaningful and rewarding to be able to help those in our State who look to and depend on the Department of Commerce.
Surprising, but True… In the Internet age, STEAM is now utilized in countless businesses, industries, and professions. So long as you are creative, share your ideas, and work as a team, you do not have to be an expert in STEAM to bring value and make a difference in your chosen field.
These wonder women are redefining what “full STEAM ahead” means in Arkansas. With exciting careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics – each reflects WIT (Women in Tech) and true grit for making the most of every opportunity. Here’s to the powHER of knowledge.
Photography by Sarah Oden