Leadership

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.

Secretary of Commerce David Toland

Since being appointed by Governor Laura Kelly in January, Secretary Toland has overseen sweeping changes within the state’s leading economic development agency. Under his leadership, the Department is conducting a new economic development strategic planning process for the state that will replace the 1986 Redwood-Krider report. 

Toland has also aggressively worked to rebuild the Business and Community Development divisions of the Department of Commerce, filling positions that have remained vacant for several years and re-establishing the state’s presence in key domestic and international markets. He also led negotiations on behalf of Governor Kelly that resulted in the end of the so-called “Border War” that has gone on between Kansas and Missouri for nearly a decade.

Prior to joining the team at Commerce, Secretary Toland was the first CEO of Thrive Allen County, a nonprofit coalition that works to improve quality of life and economic conditions in Allen County, Kansas. A seventh-generation Allen Countian, Toland oversaw the organization in its efforts toward improving healthcare access, healthy lifestyles and economic development in the small, rural Kansas county.

Prior to his return to his hometown, Toland worked as an appointee of Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, holding key leadership positions in the D.C. economic development and planning offices.

Jeff Willis

International Division Director

Jeff Willis serves as the Director of the International Division for the Kansas Department of Commerce. As director, Willis is leading efforts to grow Kansas exports and attract more foreign direct investment into Kansas.

Willis is a former commercial officer with the U.S. Commercial Service and held positions at the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing as well as the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai. He left the diplomatic service in 1992 to return to the U.S. where he directed the Asian international marketing program for the State of Kansas. In addition to public service, Willis has a wide array of private sector experience, especially as it relates to strategic planning, partner selection, problem resolution and many other aspects of Asia-related business. Willis is a current and long-standing member of the Kansas International Trade Coordinating Council, a past president of the International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City and past Chair of the U.S. Department of Commerce Mid-America District Export Council.

Willis graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor’s degrees in both French and philosophy and also earned his Master of Arts in East Asian languages and cultures from KU.

Bill Murphy

Deputy Secretary of Business Development

Bill Murphy is the Deputy Secretary of Business Development for the Kansas Department of Commerce. In this role, Bill directs the Department’s efforts to drive the growth of existing businesses in Kansas and recruit new businesses into the state. He oversees the Business, Community and International development divisions, as well as the Bioscience/Technology, Marketing and Communications divisions.

Bill brings more than two decades of experience in economic development leadership to Commerce. He previously served as senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce in Tulsa, Oklahoma, having worked before that as executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He has also worked in various economic development roles in Ohio and Maryland, with additional experience in Ohio’s energy sector.

Trent Armbrust

Director of Strategy for Bioscience & Technology

Trent Armbrust joined Commerce following seven years in Economic Development for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. Armbrust is leading efforts to develop the Kansas Framework for Growth, the first comprehensive economic development plan for the state since the Redwood-Krider Report in 1986. 

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 from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

Mike Beene

Director of Employment Services

Mike Beene currently serves as the Director of Employment Services for the Kansas Department of Commerce, Workforce Services. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Alex Rice

Chief Marketing Officer

Alex Rice joined the Department of Commerce as Director of Marketing and Communications in August 2019. She has more than 15 years of marketing leadership experience in the aerospace and defense and food and beverage industries, most recently serving as Marketing and Brand Manager at Spirit AeroSystems.

Rice earned her B.A. in Political Science and B.A.S. in Human Services from Washburn University.

Dena Sattler

Senior Director of Public Affairs

Dena Sattler currently serves as the Senior Director of Public Affairs for the Kansas Department of Commerce. She spearheads strategic media interaction and messaging centering on Commerce ventures. She works closely with Governor Laura Kelly’s newly formed Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce and Recovery Office and assists in the coordination of Cabinet agency communications needed for the growth and recovery process in Kansas.

Sattler most recently served as Director of Public Affairs for the Governor, and before that Director of Communications for the Governor’s Office. Prior to that, she was Commerce’s Director of Marketing and Communications, joining the State of Kansas after a career in the private sector that included managing small businesses and serving on various economic development-related boards.

Previously, Sattler was a group newspaper publisher in southwest Kansas. She is a past president of the Kansas Press Association board of directors and a trustee for the Kansas Newspaper Foundation and the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Sattler is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard, with service during the First Gulf War.

Kayla Savage

Director of Community Development

Kayla Savage is the Community Development Division Director at the Kansas Department of Commerce. She provides oversight for the following Community Development programs: Kansas Main Street, Kansas Creative Arts and Industries Commission, Rural Opportunity Zones, Kansas Angels, Community Service Tax Credits and Community Development Block Grants. She represents Commerce on the Kansas Water Authority and Kansas State Fair Board. 

Before coming to Commerce, Kayla spent 14 years in nonprofit management and community development. She earned her BFA in Communications-Public Relations from Emporia State University and Master of Science in Community Development from Kansas State University.

Wade Wiebe

Director of Workforce Innovation

Wade Wiebe oversees strategic direction and implementation of workforce development solutions such as the agency’s Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (AID) program, an employer-driven training system that matches the skills needed for a company’s workforce with education providers who deliver the training.

He previously served with the Department of Commerce as Manager of the Innovation Growth Program before joining the Kansas Department of Transportation as its Director of Administration. He served in that role for the past six years. He earned a B.S. degree in Business from the University of Kansas.