Lottery board approves new CEO

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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ATLANTA - The board of the Georgia Lottery Corporation Thursday afternoon unanimously voted to hire Georgia Chief Financial Officer Debbie Dlugolenski-Alford as the lottery’s new chief executive officer

Dlugolenski-Alford succeeds Margaret DeFransisco, who in July informed the board her plans to retire.

Sources tell Channel 2’s Jim Strickland that Dlugolenski-Alford will begin her duties within two weeks.

The board voted her a salary of $300,000, roughly $80,000 less than her predecessor.

“I am deeply honored to join an organization as important to the state as the Georgia Lottery Corporation.  I thank the board for their confidence and I am looking forward to starting work with the outstanding Georgia Lottery team,” Dlugolenski-Alford said in a statement emailed to Strickland.

Dlugolenski-Alford’s emergence as a candidate stirred controversy after Gov. Nathan Deal’s office made it known to board members she was his top choice. One board member resigned rather than participate further in the hiring process.

Deal addressed the controversy and her qualifications in an exclusive interview with Strickland Thursday morning.

“She has done her job in a very, very fine manner. I have every confidence that she will take that credibility with her to the lottery commission,” Deal told Strickland.“As far as meddling with the board, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a governor making a suggestion to a board for someone I think is qualified.”