TOPEKA – Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland today announced two key staff appointments along with the establishment of the new Office of Innovation at the Kansas Department of Commerce.
“This is a dynamic time in our state, and we need to continue to evolve in how we organize our work to meet the opportunities and challenges of today and tomorrow,” Lt. Governor/Secretary Toland said.
To that end, Abby Works has been named Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of Commerce. Previously Special Assistant to the Secretary, Works now will oversee the operations of the Secretary’s Office and serve as Toland’s liaison to the Governor’s Office and other state agencies.
“Abby has excelled in her work as my Special Assistant, particularly during the difficult days of COVID-19, and in her time at Commerce has demonstrated a strong grasp of the operations of the Secretary’s office and Commerce as a whole,” Lt. Governor/Secretary Toland said. “She knows how to get things done and will be an even greater asset in her new role.”
“I’m honored to take on these critical responsibilities as Chief of Staff for the Department of Commerce,” Works said. “I look forward to continuing the important work the Department is doing for businesses and communities in our state, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to help make a difference for Kansans.”
Works earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kansas State University, majoring in Food Science and Industry with a minor in Business Administration. She also received a master’s degree in Advanced European and International Studies from Centre International de Formation Européenne. Prior to beginning work at the Department of Commerce, Works was an Agribusiness Development Coordinator at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
Lt. Governor/Secretary Toland also named Trent Armbrust as Chief Strategy Officer for the Department of Commerce. Armbrust will oversee the newly created Office of Innovation and direct agency implementation of the Framework for Growth, the state’s blueprint for accelerating economic growth. The creation of the Office of Innovation is a direct outcome of the Framework for Growth, which calls for Kansas to accelerate and focus state investment in the research, development and commercialization of emerging and niche technologies that can “future proof” our economy.
Armbrust previously served as Director of Strategy for Bioscience and Technology at the Department of Commerce. An active member of several economic development, bioscience and community organizations, Armbrust earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology and master’s degree in Plant Physiology from Kansas State University, and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.
“Trent possesses a broad knowledge of innovation in our economy, which along with his practical experience as an economic development professional make him the perfect fit for this position,” Lt. Governor/Secretary Toland said. “Trent is the ideal person to help us drive forward in implementing the Framework for Growth and keeping our eyes on future opportunities.”
“The new Office of Innovation will be critical in our efforts to best position Kansas for future economic growth, and in creating the best possible place for talented workers we need in Kansas,” Armbrust said. “I’m passionate about this important work, which will be bolstered by our Framework for Growth plan to take the Kansas economy from stable to soaring.”
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