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Statewide Virtual Job Fair to Showcase New Opportunities for Jobseekers Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland is encouraging jobseekers and employers searching for new talent to participate in the June Virtual Statewide Job Fair. Hosted by KANSASWORKS, the job fair will be from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. Commerce Announces $390,000 in Emergency HEAL Grant Funding Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland today announced more than $390,000 in Emergency Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (E-HEAL) grants has been awarded to five recipients. More than $770,000 private local matching funds will be added to that total, to help bring rural downtown buildings back from likely demolition or collapse – and rehabilitate them back into productive use. Kansas Main Street Selects Eight Rural Communities for New Housing Grant Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland today announced eight inaugural grant recipients of the Residential Opportunities on Main Street (ROOMS) program. A total of eight projects in Designated Kansas Main Street communities are receiving $50,000 each to create a total of 35 new residential units in the upper floors of downtown buildings. Kansas Nonprofits Receive More than $4M in Community Service Program Tax Credits Governor Laura Kelly announced today that $4.1 million in Community Service Program (CSP) Tax Credits have been awarded to support the fundraising efforts of 26 nonprofit organizations across Kansas. These funds will enhance local access to quality childcare, healthcare, education, arts, and housing services. View All


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Kansas Department of Commerce

Governor Laura Kelly

Laura Kelly is the 48th Governor of Kansas. She has made it her life’s mission to fight for Kansas children and families on the job, in her community, as a four-term state senator and as governor.

Kelly has prioritized fully funding public schools, expanding affordable healthcare, reforming the child welfare system and growing the Kansas economy – especially in rural communities – as Governor.

Kelly is ready to bring people together and lead Kansas into the next chapter.

Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of Commerce David Toland

Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of Commerce

David Toland is the 52nd Lieutenant Governor of the State of Kansas and also serves as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce. A seventh-generation Kansan, Toland was appointed Secretary of Commerce by Governor Laura Kelly in January 2019 and Lieutenant Governor in January 2021.

As Secretary of Commerce Toland has led Governor Kelly’s efforts to transform the state’s economy, directing a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Kansas Department of Commerce. His efforts at Commerce have included rebuilding its in-state, domestic and international business recruitment teams; launching the state’s Office of Broadband Development; re-establishing the Kansas Main Street Program; revitalizing the state’s Registered Apprenticeship program; designing and implementing the Kansas Framework for Growth strategic plan; and shepherding passage of the APEX Megaproject Bill, which gives Kansas one of the most aggressive economic development incentives in the country. Toland also led Governor Kelly’s successful recruitment of the largest private sector investment in Kansas history, Panasonic Energy’s $4 billion Electric Vehicle Battery plant in De Soto.

These efforts have resulted in back-to-back record-breaking years for Kansas economic growth—including 2021, when Kansas had the most private sector investment of any state in the nation on a per capita basis.

Toland has extensive experience in urban and rural economic development, having worked at the local level in both Washington D.C. and in his hometown in Allen County, Kansas. He holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Kansas.

Bob North

Chief Counsel

Bob North serves as Chief Counsel for the Kansas Department of Commerce. Bob is responsible for Commerce operations and has served as Chief Counsel for Commerce since 2004. He has extensive experience in public financing, bond-funded economic development programs and other economic development incentives. Prior to joining Commerce, he was in private practice.

Joshua Jefferson

Deputy Secretary of Business Development

Joshua Jefferson serves as the Deputy Secretary of Business Development for the Kansas Department of Commerce. He is responsible for business recruitment and in-state business development, driving growth and prosperity for the state. He spearheads strategic initiatives that foster a business-friendly environment, forges partnerships with key stakeholders, and attracts investments that drive job creation and private sector capital investment.

Jefferson is an accomplished professional in economic development, commercial real estate, aviation management and workforce development. With more than 17 years of experience, Joshua was a driving force in shaping the economic landscape in the Greater Phoenix Metro, where he most recently served as Economic Development Program Manager for the city of Tempe, Arizona. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Real Estate Planning at Arizona State University.

Mike Beene

Assistant Secretary of Commerce

Mike Beene serves as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, overseeing Workforce Services, Human Resources, Building Services and Workforce AID for the Kansas Department of Commerce. Beene started with the agency in January 2007 as a Regional Director in Southeast Kansas (Workforce Services Division). His duties include oversight of all federal workforce programs and grants, in addition to the 23 workforce centers located across the state.

Beene received a Master’s degree in Education from Kansas State University. Prior to his career with the Department of Commerce, he was an educator and administrator in both secondary and postsecondary institutions in Kansas.

Bridgette Jobe

Director of Tourism

Bridgette Jobe is the Director of the Kansas Tourism Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce where she leads a dedicated staff of tourism professionals whose mission is to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas. As Director, she oversees the state’s marketing to visitors, the publication of KANSAS! Magazine, the Kansas Agritourism program, and the Kansas Byways program. 

Bridgette joined Kansas Tourism in 2019.  Previously, she spent over twenty-one years with the Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is a past president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas and served as chairman of the Kansas Governor’s Council on Travel and Tourism.  Bridgette is a life-long Kansan and an Original Dotte. 

Abby Works

Chief of Staff for Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of Commerce David Toland

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.

Sandy Brown

Director of Human Resources

Sandy Brown joined the Department of Commerce in 2004 as a Human Resource Professional.

Before joining Kansas Commerce, she served as a Human Resource Professional with Kansas Department of Human Resources. Previously, she served as JTPA Case Manager in Emporia. She studied business at Wichita State University.

Hugh Carter

Director of Performance and Programming

Hugh Carter serves as the Director of Performance and Programming at Commerce. He has more than a decade of workforce development and government relations experience at the local, state, and federal level. He was appointed to the Lawrence/Douglas County Metropolitan planning commission before being elected to serve as a Lawrence City Commissioner. As Vice President of External Affairs for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Hugh headed up government relations and oversaw the development of the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center. He also provided leadership to METL, a regional coalition of the Manhattan, Emporia, Topeka, and Lawrence Chambers of Commerce. Before entering the Chamber world, Hugh received his Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and opened several hotel, casino, and convention center properties in eight different states as a hospitality executive.

Kelsey Haile

Operations and Logistics Coordinator

Kelsey Haile serves as the Operations and Logistics Coordinator for the Lt. Governor and Secretary of Commerce.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wichita State University and is currently earning her Masters of Public Administration. Kelsey has served in various economic development roles and interned with the Kansas Department of Commerce in 2021.

Matthew Godinez

Assistant Secretary of Quality Places

Matthew Godinez serves as the Assistant Secretary of Quality Places for the Kansas Department of Commerce. He is responsible for providing oversight, management and direction to divisions that include Kansas Main Street, Community Development Block Grants, Housing, The Office of Rural Prosperity, and The Office of Broadband Development. His work entails setting the strategy for the Quality Places division and drive internal administrative improvements related to agency operations and ensures Quality Places programs are aligned with the Kansas Framework for Growth.

Matt previously served as the Executive Director of the Chanute Regional Development Authority and the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission. Matt has been named one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in North America, Top 40 under 40 in Economic Development and Leadership Kansas Class of 2019. In 2022, Matt received his Master Economic Development Practitioner designation from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Jim Haugh

Chief Information Officer

Jim Haugh joined Commerce in December of 2016 as the Chief Information Officer. Prior to Commerce, Haugh was a Cloud Services Architect for the State of Kansas.

Haugh spent more than seven years at the Kansas Department of Transportation beginning as a System Software Analyst and leaving KDOT as the Enterprise Platform Support Supervisor. In 1992, Haugh earned his B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Missouri Western University.

Patrick Lowry

Director of Marketing and Communications

Patrick Lowry joined the Department of Commerce team in June 2022. He helps promote the best Kansas has to offer with the purpose of enticing new businesses into the state and retaining existing businesses.

A long-time newspaper editor and publisher, Lowry also has led marketing/communications efforts at the Kansas Health Institute and the Community Care Network of Kansas. He earned his bachelor’s in Journalism and Political Science from Indiana University and an Executive MBA from Benedictine College.

Tara Logan

Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff

Tara Logan serves as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff within the Kansas Department of Commerce. She previously worked with the Kansas Main Street program before transitioning to the Office of the Secretary. Prior to her time with Commerce, she gained experience working at the Capitol as a senator’s Chief of Staff during the 2023 session, where much of her work revolved around legislation concerning state commerce and taxes.

Tara graduated from Northwest Missouri State University, studying political science, business and economics. She started her own political consulting firm after graduating and focused on candidates in rural areas of Missouri. Her prior experiences also include working in special education, early childhood education and for a non-profit mental health organization. 

Laura Lombard

International Division Director

Laura Lombard is the Director of the International Division for the Department of Commerce. The mission of the International Division is to expand Kansas’ exports and attract foreign direct investment to the state.

She was previously the President & CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services. Laura participated on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC-9) on Small, Minority, and Women-Led Businesses. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Mid-America District Export Council. Laura graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with a master’s degree in international relations and economics. She also has a B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Kansas.

Trisha Purdon

Director, Office of Rural Prosperity

Trisha joined Commerce in 2021 as the Director of the Office of Rural Prosperity. Trisha previously held rural economic developer leadership roles in both city and county-levels for over a decade.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare, focusing on public policy, from the University of Kansas (KU). She also earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from KU, concentrating on local government management as a part of the Kansas University City Managers and Trainees Alumni Organization program.  A native of Kansas, she grew up in the small town of Kiowa.

Sherry Rentfro

Chief Fiscal Officer

Sherry Rentfro joined Commerce in June of 2014 as Fiscal Analyst and became the Chief Fiscal Officer in February 2018.

Prior to Commerce, she worked for over 10 years managing the accounting and finances of a non-profit association that serves the telecommunications industry in Kansas. She earned a BBA in Finance from Washburn University and MBA from Baker University.

Kayla Savage

Director of Community Engagement

Kayla Savage is Director of Community Engagement at the Kansas Department of Commerce. She provides engagement on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce and Lieutenant Governor with communities across Kansas for various Commerce initiatives. She also represents the Secretary on various Boards and Commissions, including the Kansas Water Authority, Kansas State Fair Board, Business Hall of Fame and the Information Network for Kansas.

Kayla has nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, community development and public service administration. She earned her BFA in Communications-Public Relations from Emporia State University and Master of Science in Community Development from Kansas State University

Leisa Shepherd

Executive Assistant to Lieutenant Governor/Secretary of Commerce David Toland

Leisa has been with Commerce since 2019 and oversees scheduling and administrative functions for Lt. Governor/Commerce Secretary Toland. Prior to joining Commerce, she held various administrative roles with prominent Topeka employers including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center. She also has several years of executive-level administrative experience with an association management/lobbying firm and just prior to joining Commerce, with Topeka Metro. Leisa studied business management at Washburn University and is a proud lifelong Kansan.

Rachel Willis

Director of Legislative Affairs

Rachel Willis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washburn University, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Communications. She also received a master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus in non-profit leadership from the University of Kansas. Rachel has over a decade of experience in educational nonprofit management and most recently was a lobbyist advocating for a variety of interests at small public affairs firm in Topeka.  

Ryan Wills

Special Assistant to Lieutenant Governor Toland

Ryan Wills is the Special Assistant to the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce, David Toland. Wills previously served as the Manager of Constituent Services and Hospitality Industry Liaison for the Kansas Department of Commerce. He was also a project coordinator on the Back to Business Team where he helped with the administration of Small Business Working Capital Grants. Previous to Commerce, Wills held various management roles within the hospitality, restaurant, and music industries.

Curtis Young

Director of Arts Commission

Curtis Young serves as Director of the Kansas state arts agency, the Kansas Arts Commission. He leads a team dedicated to supporting, promoting and expanding the role arts and culture play in education, workforce development and community well-being in our state. Prior to joining Commerce, he spent nine years with Florida’s state arts agency, the Florida Division of Arts & Culture. A practicing theatre artist, Curtis holds a B.F.A. in Performance from the University of Memphis and an M.F.A. in Directing from Florida State University.