Call us! (620) 227-8082




Mid-America Workforce Summit

2020 Presenters

(Updated 10/29/2019)
Stay tuned as presenters are announced.


Kansas Governor

Governor Laura Kelly was elected in 2018 to serve as the 48th Governor of Kansas. Prior to this, she was a Kansas State Senator from the 18th district. Elected in 2004, Laura was the Ranking Minority Member on both the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Public Health and Welfare Committee. In addition, she served on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, the Health Policy Oversight Committee, the Home and Community Based Services Oversight Committee, the Health Care Stabilization Fund Oversight Committee, the Pay Plan Oversight Committee, the KPERS Study Commission, the Joint Committees on Pensions, Benefits and Investments, the Legislative Post Audit Committee, the Building and Construction Committee, and the Legislative Budget Committee. Prior to serving in the Senate, Laura was Executive Director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association for 18 years.Advanced settings.


Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue is currently serving as the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture. As Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny has focused on helping new farmers get started in agriculture, announcing a mentoring program in August 2017. He has worked to assist rural committees, helping farmers operate with less regulation, increasing exports, and passing the 2018 Farm Bill. Sonny previously served as the 81st Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011.


Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Keith Wardrip joined the Community Development and Regional Outreach Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in 2011 and has served as the community development research manager since 2013. In this role, he has the dual responsibilities of supervising the work of the department’s research analysts and contributing to the development of its research agenda. His work focuses primarily on employment, economic inclusion, housing, and funding to support community and economic development.

Before joining the Philadelphia Fed, Wardrip spent six years in Washington, D.C., conducting affordable housing research at the Center for Housing Policy and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. He has an M.A. in geography, with an emphasis in urban studies and affordable housing, from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in geography from the University of Kentucky.


America’s Job Link Alliance – Tech Support

Joy Bancroft is the Customer Relations Manager at America’s Job Link Alliance – Tech Support in Topeka, KS. Bancroft uses her master’s degrees in Rhetoric/Composition and Library Science to research workforce development issues and web-based design trends, create more accessible, engaging language in AJLA–TS products, and help end users make the most of AJLA–TS systems. Her favorite part about her job is knowing that she’s helping to make a difference in America’s workforce for people who may be feeling very frustrated and vulnerable during their unemployment.


America’s Job Link Alliance – Tech Support

Kyle Batson is the Lead UX/UI Designer at America’s Job Link Alliance–Technical Support in Topeka, KS. He has been designing and building websites for 20 years. He brings his experience as a user interface designer and software development manager to create products that are useful, usable, desirable, and accessible. He enjoys discovering simple solutions for complex problems, and advocating for the needs of users.


Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities

Steve has worked to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities throughout his carrier.  He is the Executive Director of the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities (KCDD) and serves as the President of National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.  Councils serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through advocacy, systems change and capacity building while developing and carrying out the five-year plan based on the need of the people with IDD in their state.  Steve has also served on the Local Area One Workforce Development Board since its inception and was appointed to the Kansas Employment First Commission. 

Steve is a lifelong Kansan who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Art, and a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University.


Midwestern Higher Education Compact

Susan Heegaard, President of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, has a long history of working in higher education. From 2004 to 2009, Susan served as Commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, as well as serving as a Commissioner Alternate for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact. Starting in 2013, Susan was a Senior Consultant with HCM Strategists, a public policy firm connecting state and system leaders with effective approaches aimed at improved postsecondary education outcomes.

Susan holds a law degree from Mitchell Hamline College of Law and a bachelor’s in economics and government.


U.S. Senate

Pat Roberts is a senior member of the United States Senate. A member of the Republican Party, Pat has served since 1997. He previously served as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Roberts is a graduate of Kansas State University. He served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a newspaper reporter before entering politics in the late 1960s. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980. He served eight terms in the House, including one as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Roberts was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and is currently serving his fourth term.


 Kansas Senate

Senator Lynn was elected to the Kansas Senate in 2006 after a long career in Marketing and Sales. Senate Committees include Chair of Commerce, Vice Chair of Judiciary, Tax, Utilities, Legislative Post Audit. Other appointments include Governors Council on Tourism, KansasWorks Board, and the Judicial Council Sub Committee on CINC.

When not serving in Topeka, Senator Lynn is an Account Executive for an IT Business Solutions company.


 Kansas Senate

Bud Estes represents District 38 in the Kansas Senate. Senator Estes resides in Dodge City, Kansas, and formerly represented the 119th District in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2013 until 2017. Estes, along with his brothers, owns Bucklin Tractor & Implement, which includes five John Deere dealerships in western Kansas. Bud is a graduate of Fort Hays State University.


 Kansas Senate

Ed Berger is a lifelong Kansan raised on a small family farm in Harvey County. He attended Hutchinson Community College, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wichita State University and a Doctorate in Education from Kansas State University. Berger was part of the charter faculty at Seward County Community College in 1969 before becoming Dean of Continuing Education. He then served as Dean of Continuing Education at Hutchinson Community College before becoming President, a position that he held for 23 years. He is now President of Berger Training and Consulting. In 2016, Berger was elected State Senator for the 34th District in Kansas.


Kansas House of Representatives

Rep. Barbara Ballard was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1992. She represents the 44th House District, covering most of western Lawrence.

Within the Lawrence community, Rep. Ballard serves on the Board of Directors at the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Cottonwood, Inc. She and her husband attend Plymouth Congressional Church, where she participates in the Chancel Choir. In the past, Ballard has also served on the board of directors of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and was a member of Rotary International. She also served eight years as the first black woman on the Lawrence Public School Board and was elected Board President twice.

As a state legislator, Rep. Ballard is active on the House Appropriations Committee. She also serves on the House Committees on Social Services Budget. Rep. Ballard was the first black member elected to the House Leadership team and has served as Democratic Caucus Chair for over 10 years.

Nationally, Rep. Ballard has been extremely active in the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), a policy organization committed to advancing the welfare of African Americans. She currently serves as the Vice President of the NBCSL Executive Committee and has also served as a State Regional Chair and Vice-chair. Rep. Ballard was recognized in 2007 as the organization’s Outstanding Legislator of the Year.


Kansas House of Representatives

Ken Rahjes was raised on a family farm and ranch in north central Kansas near the community of Agra, where he lives today. He is beginning his fourth year as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, serving the 110th District. He currently serves on the Taxation and Transportation committees and is Vice-Chairman of the Water & Natural Resources Committee.

Rahjes is also President of Authentic Ag, Inc., a multi-channel agriculture media company, including the Kansas Ag Report television program along with and radio network.


Kansas House of Representatives

Representative Ralph is currently the City Attorney for Dodge City, Kansas. Prior to this position, he was in private practice with the firm of Williams, Malone & Ralph for 25 years. He is in his first term in the Kansas legislature.

Representative Ralph currently serves on Committee on Appropriations, Judiciary Committee, and the Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development.

Brad has been active in his community in leadership positions with his church and the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas.  He has also served the legal profession on several professional committees, including the Kansas Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee.

Representative Ralph is a graduate of St. Mary of the Plains College and Washburn University School of Law.


Flint Hills Job Corps Center

Johnny Taylor grew up in poverty in Florida before earning a football scholarship to Kansas Wesleyan University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Mr. Taylor started his Job Corps career over twenty-three years ago. He has amassed experience in social development, training and administration.

What started as a job quickly became his passion. Johnny’s philosophy permeates the center and includes every student and staff member. He firmly believes the Flint Hills Job Corps Center is a family. A family of UNITY. No matter what you have been through or are going through, you are NOT alone. Mr. Taylor challenges everyone, every day to be better and do better. His outside-the-box approach has cultivated strategic workforce development partnerships across Kansas. The mission of Flint Hills Job Corps is to end generational poverty.


Kansas Department of Labor

Tyler graduated from Kansas State University in 2005.  While at Kansas State, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics. Tyler then attended graduate school at the University of Kansas starting in 2005. In 2006, he graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in Economics. Upon graduation, Tyler joined the workforce taking a job in the financial services industry. Nearly two years later, he started as a Labor Economist for the Labor Market Information Services (LMIS) division of the Kansas Department of Labor.

Since 2008, Tyler has worked in LMIS moving from Labor Economist to his current position as Senior Labor Economist. He works on several projects within LMIS including long-term employment projections, high demand occupations, and the monthly labor report.