Hughes began her career with the Department of Corrections as a classification and treatment officer at NTC in 2006. In addition to her regular duties, she served as a Spanish translator for the Parole Board and was tasked with developing a dog program for the institution. She later promoted to unit administrator I at Blackburn Correctional Complex, where she served as the Parole Board coordinator and developed a new dog program there as well. She promoted to a unit administrator II and returned to NTC in 2012, where she worked in the Restrictive Housing Unit and served as the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) retaliation monitor. Since 2018 Hughes has held the position of jail services specialist in the Division of Local Facilities.
In 2009, Hughes joined the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) and graduated from the first FBI basic academy a year later. In 2012, she became the CNT regional commander for the central region of the state. In November 2017, she was named the CNT state commander. During her tenure in this role, she was responsible for significant changes, including rebranding the team from a Hostage Negotiation Team to a Crisis Negotiation Team and expanding de-escalation training throughout the department.
A 2006 graduate of Western Kentucky University, Hughes received her bachelor's degree in Spanish/Latin American studies. She is the recipient of a 2018 Achievement Award and a 2019 Commissioner's Award.