Governor Mike Beebe has named Martha Miller of Little Rock to the post.
Miller replaces Cathie Matthews, who retired at the end of 2012 after 15 years of leading the agency.
"Martha is a life-long Arkansan who has strong experience within the department and with state government," Beebe said. "Promoting her from her position as deputy director was an easy and sensible decision in light of Cathie Matthews' retirement."
Miller, 60, previously served as Deputy Director for the Department of Arkansas Heritage Museums. Formerly a self-employed attorney and lobbyist, she has served on the boards of Lyon College (her alma mater), the Little Rock Interfaith Hospitality Network and Audubon Arkansas.