W. Kent Davis
Rear Admiral W. Kent Davis, USN (Retired) became the seventh Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs on February 19, 2019, upon selection by the State Board of Veterans Affairs. As Commissioner, he manages the agency’s operations, coordinates mission execution, and oversees the work of approximately 1,200 state and contractor employees in 70 facilities throughout Alabama. He also manages an annual agency budget of over $190 million as well as state benefits and services for approximately 400,000 Alabama Veterans and their families.
The son of a combat-wounded World War II U.S. Army Veteran, Commissioner Davis was born in Montgomery and also grew up in Atlanta and New Orleans. A National Merit Scholar, he attended Louisiana State University on an academic scholarship, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1985. Enlisting in the Navy Reserve while attending college, upon graduation from LSU he was commissioned as an active duty Navy officer, and was assigned to the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) for a three-year tour, stationed in Long Beach, California. Aboard the MISSOURI, he deployed to the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War (for Operation Earnest Will) and off the coast of the Soviet Union in the northern Pacific. He served as both an Assistant Supply Officer and a Gun Director Officer for the 5- and 16-inch guns aboard MISSOURI.
He was later stationed at Naval Air Station Atlanta and aboard the aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) in Alameda, California. While aboard ABRAHAM LINCOLN, he deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch in the wake of Operation Desert Storm and to Somalia in the wake of the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993.
Commissioner Davis left the active duty Navy in 1994 to attend law school on the GI Bill. He attended Georgia State University Law School in Atlanta and served as Editor-in Chief of the school’s law review. He also studied one semester abroad at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, where he received a certificate in Dispute Resolution in 1996. He stayed in the Navy Reserve throughout law school.
Upon receiving his Juris Doctor degree (magna cum laude) in 1998, Commissioner Davis went back on active military duty with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he served as a trial counsel and ethics attorney at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in the rank of Major. After two years with the Army, he left active duty again, rejoined the Navy Reserve, and worked for two years full-time at the large law firm of King & Spalding in Atlanta. While serving in the Navy Reserve, he was assigned to such commands as U.S. Central Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and the Navy Office of Information at the Pentagon.
After the 9/11 attacks, Commissioner Davis joined the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in his civilian career and stayed with that department for 14 years, first assigned to the office of Secretary Tom Ridge in D.C. as one of his staff attorneys. From there, he practiced and taught law at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia. In 2006, he was transferred to the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama and served as Senior Legal Counsel and then Deputy Superintendent at that large Homeland Security training facility. While working in Anniston, he was recalled to active duty twice by the Navy, for ground deployments in conjunction with Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 and then to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2012. In 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and completed numerous periods of active duty at the Pentagon in his role as Vice Chief of Information for the Navy.
In 2016, Commissioner Davis retired from the military after almost 31 years in uniform and also became the Director of Economic Development and then City Manager of Anniston for almost two years. In late 2017, he was hired as the (civilian) Director of Communication and Outreach at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base and moved back to his hometown of Montgomery.
Commissioner Davis is the recipient of many military and civilian awards, and has published numerous scholarly pieces in legal journals, college textbooks, and defense publications around the nation.
Commissioner Davis has been married to Lieutenant Commander Lisa Davis, USN (Retired) for 32 years. They have a daughter who is a student at the University of Alabama and a son who is a student at Auburn University.