Bentley announces three appointments

MONTGOMERY (WBRC) - Alabama Governor-elect Dr. Robert Bentley announced three appointments to his cabinet Thursday, who will take office when he is inaugurated in January.

Former state trooper and current state representative Spencer Collier will take over as director of the Department of Homeland Security.

Collier, a two-term legislator from Mobile County, is currently the director of Economic and Community Development for the city of Bayou La Batre. He is responsible for coordinating disaster and economic recovery efforts from the BP oil spill, according to a release from Bentley's office.

"At this time in our nation's history, the security of our citizens is our first responsibility," Bentley said in the release. "With Spencer Collier's experience and exemplary background, the safety and security of Alabamians will be in good hands.

Before his career as a lawmaker, Collier worked for 10 years in both the highway patrol and administrative divisions of the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

Bentley has decided to keep Marquita Davis in her post as the commissioner of the Department of Children's Affairs, a position she has held since 2008.

"Continuity in this important position is very critical," Bentley said. "Making certain that our children have every opportunity and ensuring that our state takes advantage of programs and initiatives to benefit Alabama's children is of the highest priority," Bentley said.

Davis was the director of the Office of School Readiness and "First Class," the state's voluntary pre-Kindergarten program before she was appointed as commissioner. Previously she served as the deputy director of Child Development Services at the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity in Birmingham.

Finally, Bentley announced that the current administrator of psychiatry at UAB's Center for Psychiatric Medicine, Zelia Baugh, will serve commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Retardation in his administration.

"Helping ensure the mental health of our people is one of the most important services Alabama can provide for our citizens," Bentley said. "Ms. Baugh is eminently qualified to guide our mental health and retardation program."

Baugh also worked in a similar capacity at Brookwood Medical Center where she helped develop and implement the first hospital-based psychiatric rapid response team. Previously she was the director of Dual Diagnosis and Primary Counselor at Brookwood and was a social worker with St. Vincent's Hospice Program, UAB's Drug Free Program and Comprehensive Cancer Center.

At the state level, Baugh was the chairperson of the Alabama Hospital Association's Psychiatric Constituency. In 2007, she was appointed by the state commissioner of mental health to work on a state board task force to help resolve overcrowding in state hospitals. Baugh is also a member of the Governor's State Mental Health Board of Trustees.

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