Tuesday, March 9, 2004


(Jackson, Miss.) — Governor Haley Barbour and Colonel J. K. Stringer, Jr. named Ms. Rita Wray and Mr. Kevin Upchurch Deputy Executive Directors of the Department of Finance & Administration.

Governor Barbour said of the appointments, “The taxpayers of Mississippi are fortunate to have such strong leadership at the Department of Finance and Administration. I have tasked them with a large challenge – to run state government more effective and efficiently.”

“Part of the challenge of managing of agency like this is insuring that its leaders are innovative, experienced, and committed to improving the quality of service we provide. I am confident that these two individuals will bring the kind of progressive leadership needed to continue to move the department and the State forward,” said Stringer.

Mr. Upchurch, formerly the Deputy Executive Director of Administration for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), began his career in state government in 1984 with the Mississippi Department of Health, where he worked as a payroll accountant. Later, he transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, where he served as the director of the state’s lime plants. Following his tenure with the Department of Agriculture, he served as Senior Auditor for The State Auditor’s Office. In 1988, Upchurch moved to the Legislative Branch of Mississippi government, where he served as a Legislative Budget Analyst for the Legislative Budget Office.

Mr. Upchurch’s extreme proficiency in the areas of budget management led to an assignment as the Budget Officer for the Mississippi State Senate. While in this position, he served four Lieutenant Governors: Brad Dye, Eddie Briggs, Ronnie Musgrove, and Amy Tuck.

J. K. Stringer, Jr. stated, “Kevin brings a wealth of professional knowledge and integrity to the DFA and will be integral to performing the important task of providing strong leadership in budget management for our State.”

Prior to her recent appointment to DFA, Mrs. Rita Wray founded and successfully managed a national independent healthcare-consulting firm, W. E., Inc. d/b/a Choices. Mrs. Wray is a nationally recognized consultant/facilitator for corporate communication, regulatory compliance, risk management, and professional practice issues. Among her many professional accomplishments, she is a published author and lecturer.

In addition to her success as an entrepreneur, Ms. Wray has served the State by working on various boards and commissions such as the Mississippi Minority Health Care Task Force, appointed by Governor Ray Mabus in 1991, the Inaugural Health Care Trust Fund, appointed by Governor Kirk Fordice in 1999; and the Mississippi Women’s Financial Education Foundation, appointed by State Treasurer Marshall Bennett in 2001.

“I am pleased that Rita agreed to again serve the State in this capacity. Her expertise in the areas of healthcare and risk management will be of great benefit as we work to address issues relating to the State and School Employees Life and Health Plan and Tort Claims, among others. I believe that Rita’s professional accomplishments in the private sector will bring a fresh approach to the administration of various offices within DFA,” says Stringer.


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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741

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