Building Partnerships to Address The Future of Work

workforce conference 2019
October 3-4

2022 Workforce Innovation Conference

A Focus on Talent Recruitment and Retention

Please join us in Lawrence, Kansas for the annual Workforce Innovation Conference, hosted by the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Board of Regents. For just $100, you will gain access to a series of presentations and workshops to enhance and improve workforce solutions in Kansas. Plus, Tuesday's schedule features Local Area discussion groups that provide an opportunity for each local area to discuss takeaways from the conference and share ideas that can be implemented in their area.



Keynote Speaker

lieutenant colonel ret Patricia MurrayLieutenant Colonel ret. Patricia Murray

Patricia has a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University and used her scholarship earned as Miss California 1992 to pursue a career in commercial aviation. She was recruited by the California Air National Guard to fly the C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft and was awarded the top honor of the Commanders Trophy at military pilot training graduation. She was inducted into the Order of Daedalians, a WWII flying organization. She retired after a 21-year military career as a LtCol and Instructor Pilot for the California Air National Guard in the 115th Airlift Squadron. She flew six tours of duty in the Middle East and has been awarded 5 flying Air Medals. She was named the 2010 California Air National Guard Field Grade Officer of the Year. She has earned her M.S. in Military Science and Operational Art. Patricia is a director on the Disabled Veterans Charities board that helps disabled and struggling veterans in the Los Angeles Area and is CEO of the Miss California Organization since 2015. She has flown 21 years as a pilot for American Airlines and is currently a Captain on the Airbus. She resides with her three daughters in Manhattan Beach, California.


Conference Schedule


8:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Training Session Tobias Wood & Ray Petty

9:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Adult Education Group Meeting

8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Vendor Set-Up

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Conference Registration

Conference Monday, October 3

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Lunch/Vendor Introductions

12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Keynote Speaker


Lieutenant Colonel ret. Patricia Murray

Throughout my life, I was always seen as a little “different,” but ultimately managed to come out on top in everything I have set out to achieve. Little did I know at the beginning, my desire to march only to the beat of my own drum would be one of the keys to my success. The title of this talk was advice given to me on the stage at the Miss America Pageant and it is advice that directs me to this day. This talk is designed to help any group find the strength and determination to succeed on their own terms, turning any failure into opportunity, and to stop looking from side to side along the way. Powerful examples from my life experiences demonstrate how circumstances play only a small role in our potential. It’s the discipline to stay focused on goals and keep taking action while being true to yourself that ultimately brings the biggest and most satisfying wins. You want your people to have confidence, make decisions with determination and lead from the front? Then this topic will have them moving forward with purpose! 

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 1 Run Your Own Race & Let the World Chase You…Step 1- Know Yourself and Your Team for Effective Leadership - Lt. Col. Patricia Murray

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 2 Childcare Crisis & the Workforce - Alex Munoz, Janet Davidson, Tanya Bulluck

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 3 Flint Hills Job Corps--Careers Begin Here - Gina Shope/Melissa Graf

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 4 Vocational Arts is key to Meeting Today's Demand for Skilled Workers in Kansas - Mike Gibson

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 5 Involve Families in the Conversation: Encouraging Career Exploration through HirePaths - Kristin Brighton

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 6 AO-K, Kansas Pathway and GED-Learn More about High School Equivalency in Kansas - Hector Martinez & Sue Grosdidier

2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. General Session The Vision to Grow Kansas Apprenticeship to the Top 25 by 2025 Panel Discussion

Moderator: Shonda Atwater

Moderated Panel Discussion: Dave Mullins, Jacob Mass, Kevin Kelley

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 7 Leveraging Partnerships to Advance Registered Apprenticeships Through Workforce Board Sponsorship - Amy Lebednick/Angie Barksdale

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 8 Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (AID) - Tyson Winingham

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 9 Road Trip Nation: Engaging Young Adults in Career Exploration in the Greater Wichita Area - Keith Lawing/Kelly Bielefeld

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 10 JAG-K: Developing the Potential of Youth in Workforce Innovation - Beverly Mortimer/Joni Bolen

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 11 Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education - Eric Tincher

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Breakout Session 12 Recruiting (and Re-Recruiting) Through The Great Resignation - Phil Hayes

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Vendor Reception

Conference Tuesday, October 4

8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Super Session Kansas Chamber of Commerce Workforce Report - Ted Abernathy

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 13 2022 Workforce Needs for the Agriculture Industry in Kansas - Dana Ladner

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 14 Undiscovered Talent! Second Chance Employment and Fair Chance Hiring - Cindy Villarreal

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 15 Building the Business Case: Disability Equity and Inclusion Innovation - Jana Burke

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 16 Implementing Remote Workforce Classes: Exploring Possibilities with BurlingtonEnglish - April Lawton & Sam Hicks

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 17 Engaging Workers in Stay at Work & Return to Work Activities - Amanda Duncan, Collier Case, Dale Tower, Janet Richardson-Barce

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Breakout Session 18 The Workforce Traveling Roadshow - A Mobile Classroom Experience - Michael Carbenia

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Super Session Increasing Opportunities for Returning Citizens Through Collaboration and Innovation - Moderated Panel Discussion

Moderator: Bettina Sparkes

Moderated Panel Discussion: Secretary Jeff Zmuda, Alex Munoz, Jaime Goering, Janelle Rogers, Monica Brede

12:30 p.m. - 12:40 p.m. Transition to Lunch

12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

  • Introduction of Governor Laura Kelly

  • Governor Laura Kelly Remarks

  • Awards/Recognition

2:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Key Area 1: Room Regency 1

2:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Key Area 2: Room Regency 2

2:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Key Area 3: Room Regency 3

2:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Key Area 4: Room Brazilian A

2:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Key Area 5: Room Brazilian B, C, D

4:00 p.m. Conference Completed 

Conference Session Topics

Breakout Session #1: Lt. Col. Patricia Murray | Room: Regency D1

Join Lt. Col. Patricia Murray for a follow-up discussion on Running Your Own Race by knowing yourself and your team for effective leadership. This will be an opportunity to further explore what was presented during the keynote and ask questions about how to move forward in your leadership journey.

Breakout Session #2: Childcare Crisis & the Workforce | Room: Regency D2

The presentation will describe the issue of childcare that Kansas faces and it's impact to the workforce. Additionally, we will describe an employer-led solution and some of the steps it took to bring it to fruition.

Breakout Session #3: Flint Hills Job Corps--Careers Begin Here | Room: Regency D3

Job Corps is the largest, free residential education and job training program for young adults ages 16-24. Our staff connects students with the skills and education to get the career they want. Job Corps provides young adults the opportunity to complete their HSD/HSE as well as receive career technical training certifications and industry-recognized credentials. In this presentation, we will share the CTT opportunities offered at the Flint Hills center and a breakdown of what Job Corps offers for students while in the program. We will then summarize the placement services offered for our students.

Breakout Sessions #4: Vocational Arts is key to Meeting Today's Demand for Skilled Workers in Kansas | Room: Brazilian B

AGC of Kansas, "Chamber of Commerce for the Kansas Construction Industry"is the largest sponsor of NCCER construction training materials in 125 Kansas high-schools/community colleges for their vocational arts programming. AGC is a partner with the Kansas Dept of Commerce in working to enhance vocational arts programming in all Kansas high-schools through AGC's "Build UP Kansas" AGC has received $ 2.5 million in legislative funds to assist schools in launching new vocational programs in order to meet the large demand for skilled workers in meeting Kansas' economic development efforts.

Breakout Sessions #5: Involve Families in the Conversation: Encouraging Career Exploration through HirePaths | Room: Brazilian C

HirePaths provides families and educators with resources to bring career exploration into the daily lives of Kansas kids. Our mission is to inspire and excite more students to take advantage of CTE opportunities in high school and enter the workforce with the skills Kansas employers need. This presentation will overview the campaign, our results to date, what’s next, and how more businesses can get involved to promote jobs in their industry.

Breakout Sessions #6: AO-K, Kansas Pathway and GED-Learn More about High School Equivalency in Kansas | Room: Brazilian D

Participants will learn more about the high school equivalency options for Kansas and how they benefit students and their community in an interactive session. Kansas currently offers GED Testing and the Kansas Pathway to Career Diploma. Once these student successfully complete all of the program requirements they obtain the Kansas State High School Diploma. We will explain the Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) program which is designed to help students complete career pathways, earn industry-recognized credentials, and begin their careers and how it ties into the Kansas Pathway.

Breakout Sessions #7: Leveraging Partnerships to Advance Registered Apprenticeships Through Workforce Board Sponsorship | Room: Regency D1 

Local workforce agency, West Michigan Works!, has successfully integrated registered apprenticeships (RA) and work-based learning strategies into their overall efforts as an organization. Workforce sponsored RAs have led to robust industry engagement with employers and partners and accelerated promotion of local American Job Centers.

Breakout Sessions #8: Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (AID)  | Room: Regency D2


Breakout Sessions #9: Road Trip Nation: Engaging Young Adults in Career Exploration in the Greater Wichita Area | Room: Regency D3

The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas developed a coalition of partners to think differently about how 16-24 year old individuals can find exciting and innovative career paths in the region. Through the support of Road Trip Nation, in 2022 and 2023 these partners will launch an engaging online hub and one-hour nationally broadcast PBS documentary which both will highlight the future of work in the greater Wichita area.

Breakout Sessions #10: JAG-K:  Developing the Potential of Youth in Workforce Innovation | Room: Brazilian B

Employer engagement has been a cornerstone activity of the Jobs for America's Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) program since it began in Kansas in 2013. JAG-K provides dual emphasis on workforce competencies and educational attainment, in more than 100 programs in Kansas public schools.
Effective employer partnerships allow JAG-K to provide authentic work-based learning experiences, including internships and registered youth apprenticeships as students are prepared to be successful in post-secondary education, the workforce, or military service.

Breakout Sessions #11: Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education | Room: Brazilian C 

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from a panel of experts that utilize and deliver IELCE services from across Kansas.

Breakout Sessions #12: Recruiting (and Re-Recruiting) Through The Great Resignation | Room: Brazilian D

The pandemic has fundamentally transformed what employees expect from their employers, and what they want for themselves, both personally and professionally. Employees are not just simply quitting, they're re-evaluating the kind of work they do, when they do it, where they do it, and ultimately what they really want out of their careers. People expect employers to be more transparent about purpose, flexibility, and career mobility than ever before. Join us to learn how organizations are shifting to effectively recruit and retain talent in the post-COVID world of work. Join us as we explore the current workplace/recruiting landscape and how organizations can influence their outcomes.

Breakout Session #13: 2022 Workforce Needs for the Agriculture Industry In Kansas | Room: Regency Ballroom

The lack of a skilled agriculture workforce is a top inhibitor of growth and expansion for many Kansas businesses, including agricultural producers and manufacturers. This session will summarize the findings and recommendations of the 2022 survey commissioned by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Data from over 1,200 respondents will guide the programs and strategies to be developed in response to the needs of the agriculture sector and its allied industries.

Breakout Session #14: Undiscovered Talent! Second Chance Employment and Fair Chance Hiring | Room: Regency D1

Justice-involved individuals are often overlooked for employment, leaving a motivated and talented workforce on the table in an environment experiencing significant labor shortages. In utilizing this workforce, businesses have a rich opportunity to enhance their talent pool. This interactive session will highlight the benefits of Second Chance/Fair Chance Hiring, and what a partnership with the Kansas Department of Corrections can offer, translating into positive outcomes for both employers and employees.

Breakout Session #15: Building the Business Case: Disability Equity and Inclusion Innovations | Room: Regency D2

Employers, service providers, and government agencies have embraced the basic principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, disability is often left off the DEI agenda...or considered an afterthought. Good access truly is good business. This session will offer a discussion of the business benefits of disability inclusion with a focus on promising practices being used by top diversity employers.

Breakout Session #16: Implementing Remote Workforce Classes: Exploring Possibilities with BurlingtonEnglish | Room: Regency D3

Join BurlingtonEnglish as we spotlight the cutting-edge Cross-TREK program. Learn about the program from its conception to completed pilot and how Burlington’s comprehensive suite of online courses helped the classroom stay WIOA-focused in a remote environment. Then join the discussion to brainstorm ways to implement this model within the workforce world. Burlington courses promote the development of essential digital skills for, providing students with the language, communication, and employability skills needed to help them attain, succeed in, or transition to a new career.

Breakout Session #17: Engaging Workers in Stay at Work & Return to Work Activities | Room: Brazilian A

This is a panel of experts who represent the Medical System, the Workforce System, and Kansas Employers in discussion about the value of coordinated Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) activities and how RETAINWORKS is demonstrating this value in Kansas. The panel will answer the following questions:
• How is RETAINWORKS addressing gaps in services to employees who are injured off-the-job?
• How is RETAINWORKS supporting worker’s and supporting the services already provided under Worker’s Compensation and Short-term Disability Insurance?
• How does employment impact recovery and positive health outcomes?
• How do medical systems and healthcare providers support continued employment for patients?
• What short-term and long-term benefits to effective SAW/RTW activities lead to for local businesses?
• How does the Workforce System support continued employment for workers who have suffered and injury or illness?

RETAINWORKS is a federally funded demonstration project gathering data on how early, coordinated medical and employment Stay at Work/Return to Work interventions might impact the number of days off work, overall productivity, and the employee's quality of life. The RETAINWORKS Program Manager will host a panel of individuals representing our partners from University of Kansas Health System, Workforce Alliance of Southcentral Kansas, the Mid-America Coalition on Heath Care (MACHC), and the RETAINWORKS State Lead from the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Breakout Session 18: The Workforce Traveling Roadshow - A Mobile Classroom Experience | Room: Brazilian B, C, D

Discover how districts and community colleges across the U.S. are taking workforce development on the road through creative approaches that include mobile classrooms and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR).
Join the discussion to learn how WSU Tech College and others implemented mobile labs in their district, community, and statewide so students can explore career pathways in Health Science, Advanced Manufacturing, Agri-Science, Transportation, and more!

General Sessions:

October 3- 2:45 - 3:45- The Vision to Grow Kansas Apprenticeship to the Top 25 by 2025 Panel Discussion

October 4- 8:00 - 9:30- Kansas Chamber of Commerce Workforce Report

October 4- 11:00 - 12:30- Increasing Opportunities for Returning Citizens Through Collaboration and Innovation 

Conference Speakers

Alex Munoz

Alex Munoz - Human Resources Manager - Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC

Alex Munoz, is the Human Resources Manager at Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC and sits on Local Area 4 Workforce Board. Alex has spent the last several years working in human resources, career development and workforce development in private industry, higher education and the non-profit sector. At Creekstone, Alex oversees a team of 24 Human Resources professionals who enact the operational functions of HR, including compliance, training, engagement, and special programs. Additionally, Alex works on special projects for the C-Suite, including research and planning for CapEx projects.


Amanda Duncan - Vice President & Chief Business Development Officer - Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas

Amanda Duncan joined the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas in 2007 and has held several positions in the organization; she was promoted to her current position of Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer in 2012. Amanda serves as a liaison to the US Department of Labor, the Kansas Department of Commerce, local Economic Development Organizations, and business groups throughout the region. She also responsible for oversight of the WA’s Communications Department, Youth Services and Employment Programs, Return to Work Programs, and Adult Re-Entry Programs. In addition, Amanda oversees fund development and manages multiple grant programs for the WA, including serving as the Site Director of the PACES Project, a local collaborative site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. She has also served as a subject matter expert, consultant, and contributor to technical assistance guides for the US Department of Labor. A native of Garden City, Amanda holds degrees from Wichita State and Washburn University. She also holds certifications from the Society of Human Resource Management and the Human Resource Certification Institute. Amanda is active in the workforce development and human resource professional communities, as well many local professional, civic, and service organizations. Amanda and her husband Chris live in Wichita and have three children.


Amy Lebednick - Business Solutions Director - West Michigan Works!

Amy Lebednick; Business Solutions Director; West Michigan Works!
Amy leads the business solutions operations for West Michigan Works!, the local workforce agency in Western Michigan. She is responsible for using a variety of funds and resources to administer workforce programs tailored to meet employer's needs. She has been instrumental in the ongoing efforts to expand registered apprenticeships across industries, as well as, the development of employer-led industry talent councils, leading to innovative talent programs to address the region’s talent needs.


Angie Barksdale - Chief Operating Officer - West Michigan Works! 

Angie Barksdale is currently Chief Operating Officer for West Michigan Works! where she oversees the development and implementation of workforce programs for a seven-county region. Previously she served as Deputy Director for the Ottawa County Michigan Works!. Angie played an active role in the merger of Ottawa and three other Michigan Works! agencies to create the current workforce agency. In addition to her experience in the public sector, Angie is well-acquainted with world of non-profits and community service. Angie previously held posts at Ottawa County United Way as Director of Development, the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District as part of Grant Development, and with Allendale Township as its Youth Coordinator. Angie earned a B.A. in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and a Master’s in Family and Consumer Science from Western Michigan University. She lives in Allendale, Michigan with her husband, Adam, and three children: Alaina, 18; Jacob, 15; and Joseph, 11.


April Lawton - Customer Manager - BurlingtonEnglish

April Lawton is a Customer Manager at Burlington English. She supports Adult Education programs in implementing blended learning solutions. April started her career in Adult Education by teaching inmates with the Nebraska Department of Corrections and later she became an Adult Education Program Facilitator at Metropolitan Community College. She graduated from Wayne State College with a Master of Science degree in Education. April currently lives in Omaha, NE with her husband, Chris, and adorable dachshund, Leia.


Bettina Sparkes - Manager, Justice-Involved Programs - Kansas Department of Commerce

Bettina Sparkes is the Manager of Justice-Involved Programs for Kansas Dept. of Commerce. She serves as the liaison between her agency and Kansas Dept. of Corrections, with the goal of increasing opportunities for individuals involved in the justice system to return to work in sustainable living wage jobs. She engages with organizations, employers, and providers across Kansas to provide information, encourage dialogue, and collaborate on plans for the justice-involved population to enter the workforce in high demand/high wage occupations, and provides training to workforce professionals on the intricacies of supporting justice-involved job seekers. Bettina earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration from Baylor University and her Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science from the University of Kansas. Bettina carries a wealth of experience in her field, being a certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) and Instructor, working in both corrections and workforce development for more than 9 years.


Beverly Mortimer - Sr. Vice President - Jobs for America's Graduates - Kansas

Beverly Mortimer serves as Senior Vice President of Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K). JAG-K partners with public schools and employers to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all participants graduate, attain post-secondary credentials, and pursue meaningful careers. JAG-K sponsors the first Youth Registered Apprentice in Kansas.
Mrs. Mortimer oversees more than 100 school-based programs to implement an employer engagement framework for more than 6,000 students. The framework is a structured approach that provides students with the opportunity to explore career pathways, gain exposure to different industries, and gain work experience alongside employer partners.
Mrs. Mortimer served 33 years in public education, as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in Kansas schools prior to starting with JAG-K in 2016.

Blake Flanders

Dr. Blake Flanders - President and CEO - Kansas Board of Regents

Dr. Blake Flanders serves as President and CEO for the Kansas Board of Regents. Before serving in his current position, Dr. Flanders served as the VP for Workforce Development for the Kansas Board of Regents and provided executive leadership for the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority. In this role, he was the state leader for issues involving the state’s postsecondary education and training system, including targeted expansion of engineering and nursing programs.


Cindy Villarreal - Program Consultant and Job Specialist, OWDS/OERS - Kansas Department of Corrections

Cindy Villarreal, Kansas Department of Corrections, is an Offender Workforce Development and Employment Retention Specialist and certified trainer, with 25 years’ experience in the field. As part of the KDOC Reentry team, she prepares justice-involved individuals to become productive and valued employees and responsible citizens. She has presented at many levels, including local, regional, and national offender employment conferences, where her workshop was reviewed as being one of the best on the subject due to the practical advice and techniques given towards success in Second Chance and Fair Chance Employment.


Collier Case - President and CEO - Mid-America Coalition on Health Care

Collier Case is the President and CEO of the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care (MACHC), the second oldest business health coalition in the US. This employer-led, multi-stakeholder organization boasts dozens of members from across the greater Kansas City region representing business, government, and non-profit purchasers as well as all forms of healthcare provider and insurance organizations, consultants and brokers. The Coalition provides education programs, webinars, forums and resources to positively address health care cost, outcomes, benefit design and delivery solutions within a collaborative framework. The Coalition draws on the expertise of its members in addition to local and national experts. Prior to joining the Coalition, Collier was the Director Benefits for Sprint for more than 18 years. He was responsible for design and deployment of Sprint’s healthcare, well-being, retirement/401(k) and disability/leave programs. Through his leadership, Sprint implemented numerous innovative benefit practices including direct contracting, best-in-market and centers of excellence purchasing strategies, developed award winning well-being programs, operated on-site health centers and adopted condition management and transparency tools to meet a range of employee needs. In addition to his serving MACHC as a board member and past Chair, Collier was also an advisory board member for the Center for Workplace Mental Health and served as Treasurer of Care Focused Purchasing – a health quality data analytic initiative. He is a past board member of Kansas Foundation for Medical Care. He currently serves on the board of the Kansas City Health Collaborative.Collier’s other work history includes Director of Benefits at Westar Energy/Western Resources in Topeka Kansas, pension administration at  UMB Bank in Kansas City and labor relations at LTV Steel in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Collier has a Master of Labor and Human Resources degree from The Ohio State University and BA in Psychology from Miami University, Oxford Ohio.


Dale Tower - RETAINWORKS State Lead - Kansas Department of Commerce

Dale has worked for the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDC) since 2013, providing leadership to a variety of initiatives focused on improving employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. He is currently the State Lead for the RETAINWORKS program. Prior to joining the KDC team, Tower worked in Non-Profit Executive Leadership for seventeen years with a focus on independence and self-sufficiency for people living in poverty and individuals with disabilities. Dale is a graduate of Pittsburg State University (PSU).


Dana Ladner - Compliance Education and Outreach Program Manager - Kansas Department of Agriculture

Dana Ladner has been with the Kansas Department of Agriculture since October 2014. In her role as Compliance Education Program Coordinator, she assists the agency with education and outreach opportunities internal and external to the agency. Additionally, Ladner works with the Ag Marketing team to grow the agriculture industry and economy in Kansas by working with farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. Prior to joining KDA, Ladner taught in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University for 20 years, with her main focus on student services and professional development. This included teaching Freshman Orientation and the Senior Capstone course and coordinating the internship and honor’s programs. Ladner’s educational background includes a B.S. in Management and Ethics from Manhattan Christian College, an M.S. in Education from Kansas State, and she is Ph.D. ABD (all but dissertation) on a doctorate in Education at K-State.

Dave Mullins

Dave Mullins - Director, Business and Industry - Hutchinson Community College

Dave is the Director of the Business and Industry Institute at Hutchinson Community College where connects area businesses to education and training.  A primary focus of the Business and Industry Institute is workforce development. From training and upskilling incumbent workers to educating new employees to developing an employment pipeline, HutchCC works to meet the workforce needs of Kansas employers. Dave has been with HutchCC since 2009. Prior to coming to HutchCC, Dave had a career in Manufacturing, working in the Aerospace industry. Dave has a Bachelors Degree in Ceramic Engineering from Iowa State and a Masters of Material Science Engineering from the University of Virginia.


Eric J. Tincher - Associate Director, Adult Education - KBOR

Eric J. Tincher is an Associate Director of Adult Education for the Kansas Board of Regents. Eric has worked at KBOR since 2015 and has served in his current capacity since 2017. The primary focus is for professional development for adult education program directors and staff but one additional duty includes managing the states Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) federal grant. A life-long Kansan, Eric is devoted to seeing students maximizing their opportunities to better themselves, their families, their community and our state.


Gina Shope - Programs Director - Flint Hills Job Corps

Gina Shope graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in Social Work in 1997. She started her career with Job Corps and has been at Flint Hills for over 25 years. She has experience in Residential Living and the Single Parent Program, Career Services, Training and has been the Program Director since 2017.
Ms. Shope believes in the Job Corps mission and in meeting the student where they are at. She enjoys debate and problem-solving challenging situations. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and dogs.

Hector Martinez - Director, Adult Education - Kansas Board of Regents


Jacob Mass - Chief Executive Officer - West Michigan Works! (WMW)

Jacob Maas is the Chief Executive Officer of West Michigan Works! (WMW), the workforce development agency for Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties. With over 19 years of experience in the public sector—seven as CEO of the WMW—Jacob is committed to creating systems that meet the needs of communities and to providing a demand and data-driven direction for region’s talent development efforts. As CEO, Jacob played an integral role in the 2015 merger of four Michigan Works! agencies to become WMW. The agency is focused on recognizing and valuing the unique needs of a region that serves both urban and rural communities; start-ups and major corporations; and a diverse job-seeker population. West Michigan Works! is a trusted resource for the state when it is redesigning or launching programs and for like-minded organizations and partnerships; it regularly shares its innovative practices through local, state and federal conferences, podcasts and webinars. Jacob credits this focus on leadership and innovation for the workforce board’s 2015 Board of Excellence Award from the Michigan Works! Association and the 2019 WIOA Trailblazer Award and the 2022 Excellence in Partnership and Collaboration Award from the National Association of Workforce Boards. Jacob is a graduate of Hope College and resident of Grand Rapids. He continues to be active at the local, state, and federal level with workforce initiatives.


Jaime Goering - Director of Resource Development - Butler Community College

Jaime Goering oversees the Resource Development portfolio for Butler Community College, which is Kansas' second biggest two-year public institution. In that role, she is responsible for researching and initiating grant opportunities, managing awarded grants, and ensuring appropriate risk mitigation in the use of these awards. Jaime has been recognized by the college's Board of Trustees several times for her outstanding contributions to the success of students. She has an MPA from Wichita State University and a Civil Engineering degree from Kansas State University.


Jana Burke - Employment Specialist - Great Plains ADA Center

Jana Burke, PhD, ADAC is the founder of Mariposa Professional Services, a consulting firm specializing in ADA compliance strategies for organizations with rights and responsibilities under the law. She is a small business owner, consultant, trainer, and self-advocate who specializes in the ADA employment provisions and workplace strategies for ADA compliance. She also collaborates with the Great Plains ADA Center, the regional information center on the ADA, to provide training and technical assistance in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. After 20 years in the field, Dr. Burke remains committed to helping transform how organizations do business with strategic planning and visioning for disability diversity and inclusion.


Janet Davidson - Director of Child Care and Development/Early Childhood Education - Cowley College

Janet Davidson, Director of Child Care and Development/Early Childhood Education at Cowley College. Graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies Degree with a Minor in Leadership in 2008 from Southwestern College, Winfield Kansas to then return and complete her Bachelors of Arts in Education with a Minor in Early Development. She taught 2nd Grade for four years, within this time she completed her Masters in Adaptive/Special Education from Fort Hays State University Graduating in 2011. She has now been the Director of Childcare and Development/Early Childhood Education at Cowley College for 12 years. When she is not teaching or advocating for Early Education she is baking, at the lake or hosting the best life for her 9 year old daughter and family.

Janet Richardson-Barce


Secretary Jeff Zmuda - Secretary - Kansas Department of Corrections

Secretary Jeff Zmuda was appointed by Governor Laura Kelly to lead the Kansas Department of Corrections in 2019. He was sworn in on February 5, 2020.
Prior to joining Governor Kelly’s cabinet, Jeff spent nearly 32 years in service to the Idaho Department of Corrections. More than half of that time was spent in leadership roles, as both the organization’s deputy director and chief of prisons. In these roles he coordinated with stakeholders across the state and played a key role in the operations for nine state-run facilities, including public safety initiatives, security protocols and practices, mental health care and treatment, education services and reentry programs. Jeff also has extensive experience addressing personnel and operations challenges across a correctional system. Jeff is a firm believer that while offenders are serving their time in prison, the department and staff should be working hard to equip offenders with the resources and skills they need to be successful upon their reentry to their community. With that in mind, he has made improving reentry services and workforce readiness among inmates one of his top priorities. Jeff and his wife Cheryl have been married for 41 years. They have three grown sons, David, Daniel and Andrew.

Joni Bolen

Joni Bolen - Director of Employer Engagement - Jobs for America's Graduates - Kansas

Joni is the Director of Employer Engagement for JAG-K. She started this role in July of 2022. Previously, she served as the CTE Coordinator for USD 352 Goodland. Before moving back to Sharon Springs, KS, and taking on her role with USD 352, she served as a Regional Manager for JAG-K and prior to that, was a JAG-K Career Specialist at Hutchinson Middle School and Hutchinson High School. She currently resides in Sharon Springs, KS, where she was born and raised.  


Keith Lawing - President and CEO - Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas

Keith Lawing is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas Inc., a locally operated not-for-profit corporation specializing in convening partnerships and implementing strategies to grow the regional economy. The Workforce Alliance administers the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in the Wichita metro area and manages a number of strategic employment and training initiatives. In addition to leading the Workforce Alliance, Lawing serves as the Senior Administrator for the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP), a council of local governments in South Central Kansas that works to strengthen the economy through joint action of cities and counties. Governor Laura Kelly appointed Keith to the Governor’s Education Council in 2019, and he also served on Governor Colyer’s Education Council in 2017-2018. He chairs the Workforce Solutions Subcommittee for the Greater Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Strategic Advisory Team for the Greater Wichita Area Partnership and serves as Secretary for the Midwest Urban Strategies Board of Directors. Lawing holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Kansas and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Wichita State University.


Kelly Bielefeld - Executive Director of College and Career Readiness - Wichita Public Schools

Kelly Bielefeld joined Wichita Public Schools in 2020 as the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness. He graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Secondary Education, from Wichita State University with a master's in building leadership, and has a District Level Endorsement from Fort Hays State University. He has 20 years of experience in education and 15 years in administration. His areas of responsibility include:
• Carl Perkins Grant Manager
• New Pathway Development
• Support College and Career Coordinators
• KACCTE Board Member
• Regional Educational Laboratory (Central Region) - Board Member
• Learning Forward Kansas Board Member
• Wichita Area Manufacturers Board Member, Junior Achievement Board Member, Greater Wichita Partnership Strategic Advisory Team Member

Dr Kev

Dr. Kevin Kelley - Chief Executive Officer - The Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center

Dr. Kevin W. Kelley currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Kevin joined Peaslee Tech following his retirement from Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Kansas City. Prior to joining MCC, he served in several leadership roles at Donnelly and Saint Mary Colleges, including Interim President, as well as Vice-President & Academic Dean. Before entering the field of higher education and after serving in the United States Marine Corps, Kelley spent 10 years as the founder and president of Kansas City-based IPAC Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial adhesives and coatings. He sold the company in 1995 and returned to college, ultimately earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Business Administration from Northcentral University. IPAC Corporation has continuously operated since he founded it in 1985, at the age of 29. Dr. Kelley was a founder of the successful movement to unify the City of Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kansas. Over his career he has served on many boards and engaged in numerous civic and faith activities. He resides with his wife Dr. Teresa Kelley in Lawrence, Kansas, the place of his birth.


Kristin Brighton - Founder, HirePaths - New Boston Creative Group / HirePaths

Kristin Brighton is one of the principals and founders of New Boston Creative Group LLC, an integrated marketing communications firm based in Manhattan. As a consultant, she partners with businesses and nonprofits to build or revamp their brands using a complete spectrum of tools, from video production to digital marketing. She believes clients need to fully understand their audience for best results, and often conducts market research studies for clients to help identify the best messages and tactics for their marketing efforts. Ms. Brighton was elected in 2019 to the USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden School Board, and was the 2016 chair of the board for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. She’s also currently spearheading a workforce marketing effort called HirePaths to change parent perceptions regarding higher education.

Laura Kelly

Governor Laura Kelly - Governor of the State of Kansas

Growing up in a military family, Laura Kelly learned the values of integrity, accountability and resilience that she’s carried with her throughout her career in public service.As Governor, Laura Kelly fulfilled her promise to be a moderate leader who would put Kansas back on track after years of fiscal mismanagement, harmful budget deficits, and underfunded schools. She’s worked with both parties to balance the budget, fully fund schools, grow the economy, and rebuild the state’s infrastructure – all while guiding the state during unprecedented times and fighting to cut costs for families, including axing the grocery tax.


Melissa Graf - Center Director - Flint Hills Job Corps

Melissa Graf is the Center Director at Flint Hills Job Corps in Manhattan, KS. After graduating from Kansas State University in 2003, Melissa began her career with Job Corps. After working in the residential living, counseling, and recreation departments at Flint Hills, Melissa moved to Utah to work at the MTC corporate office as Director of Social Development for the Job Corps program. Melissa was a center director at the Shriver Job Corps center in Massachusetts and the Atterbury Job Corps center in Indiana before returning to Kansas to take on her current role of center director.

Michael C

Michael Carbenia - Senior Executive Director of Workforce - zSpace Experiential Learning

Carbenia’s pulse beats for CTE. Having served as an instructional leader in high poverty and high-income schools alike, he seeks the “tipping point students” regardless of school setting. Carbenia created a system to accelerate student performance on industry certification exams over 100% in multiple Title 1 school districts genrating over $2,000,000 in CAPE funds. Carbenia was the Director of CTE for St. Lucie Public Schools until joining zSpace as the Senior Executive Director of Workforce. However, his proudest achievement is continuing his CTE Families legacy as the grandson of a Master Mechanic, and the son of a welder.

Mike Gibson - Executive Vice President - Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Kansas


Monica Brede - Sr. Director of Business Retention and Workforce Solutions - Wyandotte Economic Development Council

Monica Brede is the Senior Director of Business Retention and Workforce Solutions at Wyandotte Economic Development Council. She is a passionate listener with a desire to find solutions to the business challenges presented to her. She has worked in Economic Development since 2009, and considers this her second career, after working 20 years in crisis counseling. Her current position with Wyandotte Economic Development Council married her two careers together perfectly. WYEDC takes a wholistic approach to economic development addressing the needs of the community, residents and the businesses. At WYEDC, Monica identifies strategies to retain and gain talent to help existing companies grow. Workforce and identifying talent are a company’s main issue for growth, at this time. She also works on Wyandotte County’s Community Health Improvement Plan addressing needs with jobs and education. Connecting residents to available jobs and overcoming the barriers to employment such as education, transportation, language, child care and past criminal history. Monica is a lifelong Kansan. She grew up in Salina, graduated from Emporia State University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. She currently lives in Topeka with her husband, two sons, an exchange student from Italy, and their three dogs. She spends much of leisure time attending sporting events with her family, or she is in the water playing and swimming.


Phillip M Hayes - Vice President - The Arnold Group

Phillip M. Hayes – Vice President for The Arnold Group (TAG), a human resource company providing staffing, recruiting, executive search, talent acquisition, and HR outsourcing solutions. Hayes manages and oversees company operations, including the design, development, and implementation of all client HR programs. Hayes holds a Bachelor’s Degree in HR Management from Bellevue University and Masters of Management Information Systems from Friends University. Hayes has been recognized as the “Wichita HR Professional of the Year” and the “Kansas HR Professional of the Year.” Phil remains active in the legislative arena pertaining to state HR policy, and specifically the unemployment arena as he was appointed to serve on the Kansas Employment Security Board of Review (2014-2022); the Kansas Unemployment Compensation Modernization & Improvement Council (2021-Present); and the Kansas Workers Compensation and Unemployment Review Board Nominating Committee (2021-Present).


Ray Petty

Ray Petty has been involved in the disability rights movement for over 35 years. He was a staff member of the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, he has worked with the KS Commission on Disability Concerns, he was an Executive Director at the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, and was just elected President of the Disability Rights Center of KS Governing Board. He also co-founded KS Accessible Sports which promotes competitive wheelchair sports.


Sam Hicks - Customer Representative - BurlingtonEnglish

Sam Hicks is a Customer Representative with Burlington English. He supports teachers by working closely with them to implement blended learning in their classrooms and helps organize collaborative professional development sessions to assist in the ongoing and continuing education of the instructors. He has a BA degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and five years of experience teaching EFL in the Czech Republic and China. He currently lives in Kansas City, MO.


Shonda AtwaterDirector of Internships and Apprenticeships - Kansas Department of Commerce

Shonda Atwater is the Director of Internships and Apprenticeships for the Kansas Department of Commerce. She grew up in Colorado, where she earned an undergraduate degree in agriculture and resource economics and agricultural education from Colorado State University. Over 20 years ago, life brought her to Kansas, where she earned a master’s in agricultural economics from Kansas State University. Previously, she worked as the director of the apprenticeship for Kansas City’s Metropolitan Community College. She is a proud mother of two and will never forget she started her career driving dump trucks for her dad’s asphalt business.


Sue Grosdidier - Associate Director, High School Equivalency - Kansas Board of Regents

Sue Grosdidier holds the position of Associate Director for High School Equivalency at the Kansas Board of Regents. Her position oversees the GED, Kansas Pathway to Career Diploma Programs and Correctional Education Programs. Sue has been in education for the past 36 years. Most of her educational experience was as a High School Counselor working with students on personal issues, schedules, career exploration and much more. She has also worked in the college sector at DeVry Institute of Technology, Fort Scott Community College, Neosho County Community College and Highland Community College.


Tanya BulluckProgram Director - Child Start, Inc.

Tanya has been with Child Start since 2014, becoming the Child Care Resource and Referral Director in 2018. She is responsible for overseeing a variety of services that impact more than 60% of children under age 5 each year in South-Central Kansas, as well as teachers, child care providers, daycare center staff, parents, grandparents, foster parents, and the general community. She earned an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Studies, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Southwestern College and a Master of Leadership from Southwestern College. She is also a proud Air Force spouse and an even prouder mother of three pretty neat children, ages 18, 17 and 12.


Ted Abernathy - Managing Partner - Economic Leadership

Ted Abernathy serves as the Managing Partner of Economic Leadership. Economic Leadership, based in Shallotte, NC is a small group of data, strategy, and policy experts working with clients to analyze competitiveness, develop strategy, identify locations, and reimagine the future. Over the past nine years the team has worked on 146 projects in more than twenty states and internationally. Ted is the principal author of close to 100 reports on future trends, economic and workforce development, technology, and leadership and he speaks on the economy, somewhere, almost every week. He currently serves as economic advisor to the Council of State Chambers and previously held a similar position to the Southern Governor’s Association. In his 42-year career Ted has led city, county and regional economic development organizations and an economic policy thinktank. Born in Dallas, North Carolina, Ted received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, his master’s from Johns Hopkins University, is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute and is an Eisenhower Fellow for global economics. He and his wife live in Shallotte, a small town on the North Carolina coast and share their back yard with hundreds of sea birds and quite a few alligators.


Tobias Wood

Tobias joined the Kansas Board of Regents in 2014 as the High School Equivalency State Administrator, and then joined the Workforce Development team in 2017. As Associate Director of Career and Technical Education, Tobias helps oversee the Perkins Federal Grant and coordinates postsecondary Methods of Administration (MOA) activities ensuring civil rights compliance in Career and Technical Education at Community and Technical Colleges in Kansas.

Tyson Winingham -


Conference Information

An innovative conference for those who engage in workforce solutions.

October 3-4, 2022

Hosted by the Kansas Department of Commerce and Kansas Board of Regents



DoubleTree 200 McDonald Drive, Lawrence, Kansas

Hotel Booking Code: WSW

Book a Room


$100 includes conference and meals

Register Here

Sponsorship Opportunities 

Contact: Paula Downs - OR (316) 978-6678

Become a Sponsor








Questions about the conference? 

Contact Paula Downs, Talent Initiatives Manager

Public Policy & Management Center at Wichita State University OR (316) 978-6678

How can the PPMC help you? 

The Public Policy and Management Center (PPMC) at Wichita State University enhances public service to best serve your community.

Our three service pillars help people-focused communities and organizations make data-driven decisions: 

  1. Research & Program Evaluation: Assisting decision-makers in evaluating the impact of programs and crafting innovative improvements to meet community and organizational needs.
  2. Talent Initiatives: Helping organizations developing talent by advancing knowledge, skills and abilities through training, events and association management.
  3. Community Initiatives: Improving public service by empowering individuals and groups to share their voices and affect positive change in their communities.

Need more info? Contact Strategic Communications Manager Abigail Hammack at or (316) 978-6688