Deidre Smith, Director
Deidre Smith assumed the duties as Director for the Arkansas Waterways Commission in July, 2017. Before moving to Arkansas, Deidre served as the Waterways Manager for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for six of her 32 years with ODOT before retiring in 2017.
Deidre worked closely with the Arkansas Waterways Commission on projects for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) while at ODOT. She and the former Executive Director, Gene Higginbotham, were able to upgrade the status of the America’s Marine Highway 40 from a connector to a corridor by applying to the USDOT Maritime Administration as a bi-state initiative. Deidre was also able to push through several bureaucracies to establish the nation’s first Marine Highway signage for the M40, which has been adopted by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and utilized now in several states having inland marine highways.
Several trips were made to Washington, D.C. speaking with both Arkansas and Oklahoma Congressional Delegations, as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers, to ensure federal funding would be appropriated in the President’s budget for the Three Rivers Study to find a permanent fix at the confluence of the Arkansas, White, and Mississippi Rivers. Trips to Manhattan, Kansas, were made to brief Kansas Congressional Staffers, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Wheat, Sorghum, Corn, and Soybean Growers Associations to gain support for initiatives on the MKARNS from Kansans utilizing waterborne commerce.
Regional Economic Impact Studies were done simultaneously between the two states and an Executive Summary was developed from the two studies to represent the MKARNS. These studies showed the important role the MKARNS plays for Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and the nation.
From 1996 to 2000, Deidre served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma State School Board Association where she headed the Technology Committee for the State’s School Board Association. Deidre became a Certified Public Manager in 2006. She currently serves on the American Association of State Highway Transportation Official’s Standing Committee on Water Transportation, the Board of Directors for the Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center, Board of Directors for the Arkansas River Historical Society, and the Executive Committee for the National Waterways Conference.
J.W. Misenheimer, Administrative Analyst
Brittany Johnson, Business Operations Specialist