The Arizona Department of Economic Security has a new director.
Michael Wisehart will replace Tom Betlach, who announced May 24 that he will be stepping down as DES director June 3, according to a release.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Mr. Wisehart’s appointment on Thursday.
“With hundreds of thousands of people across our state out of a job and hurting because of COVID-19, the mission of DES is as important as ever,” Mr. Wisehart stated. “Our team will continue to strengthen employment programs, innovate to ensure benefits are distributed timely and efficiently, and dedicate ourselves to meeting the needs of the families and individuals we serve.”
Mr. Betlach came out of retirement in March to take the DES job. He had served as director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
“Throughout this pandemic, Michael has been key to supporting families, providing aid to essential workers and distributing benefits to those in need,” Mr. Betlach stated. “Michael is a problem-solver and leader who’s passionate about the Department’s mission of helping Arizonans meet their full potential. I’m confident he will be an exceptional and steady leader for the agency.”
Mr. Wisehart has served in leadership roles at DES for the past 20 years, including assistant director for the Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services.
Mr. Ducey said Mr. Wisehart “brings unmatched leadership experience across the areas of operations, budgeting and direct service.”
“From leading the development and distribution of benefits during COVID-19 to his instrumental role in creating the Department of Child Safety, Michael has shown he has the depth of knowledge and vision to lead an agency as important as the Department of Economic Security,” Mr. Ducey stated. “I’m grateful for Michael’s willingness to continue serving Arizonans in this critical role. Arizona also thanks Tom Betlach and Dr. Cara Christ for providing leadership at the Department during a time of great need. Arizona is grateful for their exceptional service.”
In his current role, Mr. Wisehart has been responsible for the Administration of the State of Arizona’s employment programs, including child care quality and subsidies, unemployment insurance, vocational rehabilitation, workforce investment, veterans’ employment, temporary assistance benefit employment, and Supplemental Nutrition Employment and Training.
He manages a division with more than 1,200 employees serving hundreds of thousands of Arizonans every year. He has previously served in a similar role in the Division of Benefits and Medical Eligibility overseeing the SNAP and Cash Assistance programs in Arizona.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Wisehart has served in a variety of other positions within DES, including as chief financial officer during the Great Recession.
A native Arizonan, Mr. Wisehart has both an MBA and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Arizona State University. He is the father of two boys.