Jay Bradford was appointed Insurance Commissioner January 15, 2009, by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. Bradford brings more than four decades of experience in the insurance industry, including 30 years as founder, chairman and former principal shareholder of First Arkansas Insurance Group, a statewide network of independent property/casualty agencies. Customer service and consumer protection have been hallmarks of his career. Prior to his appointment, Bradford served for two years as the director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services within the Arkansas Department of Human Services. He served in the Arkansas Legislature for 24 years, where he was chosen speaker pro tempore of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate. He also served as chair of the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee in both chambers.
Some of the highlights of his service in the Arkansas Legislature include serving as chief sponsor of the Tobacco Settlement Funding Bill, legislation that resulted in Arkansas being the only state in the nation to mandate that all settlement monies be used for health care. He also served as lead Senate sponsor of breast care legislation, which resulted in millions of dollars being made available for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Bradford has achieved numerous honors and awards during his service to the citizens of Arkansas, including the 2006 Arkansas Business Executive of the Year and the 2005 Libertarian of the Year from the American Civil Liberties Union. He is active in various community and political affairs. In 2011, Bradford was named to the Arkansas Business Power List and was appointed to the board of directors of the National Alliance Research Academy.
A graduate of Subiaco Academy, Bradford holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from Henderson State College and has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of that institution, now known as Henderson State University. He is a certified insurance counselor (CIC) and holds an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas for medical sciences. He is married to Dr. Robbie Thomas-Knight, a Little Rock psychologist. They have three daughters.