Mid-America Workforce Summit

2020 Presenters

(Updated 1/14/2020)
Stay tuned as presenters are announced.


Kansas Lt. Governor

Lynn Rogers was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Kansas on January 14, 2019.

Lynn is a businessman, former State Senator, and former Wichita Board of Education president, who has been fighting for Kansas families for decades.

Lynn spent over thirty years traveling Kansas as an agriculture banker assisting farmers and ranchers with financial planning and investment. He worked to provide more than $750 million in leasing and financing services to farmers, ranchers, and grain cooperatives. This experience helped him understand the challenges Kansans in rural communities and in the agricultural sector face.

In 2001, Lynn was elected to the Wichita USD 259 Board of Education. He worked on behalf of the children and parents in Wichita serving as president or vice-president for seven of those years. Lynn also volunteered on his local Parent Teacher Organization and his local church.
Lynn represented the 25th District which includes parts of Wichita from 2017 to 2019. He is a commonsense leader who has a passion for public schools and improving the lives of Kansas families.

As Lieutenant Governor, Lynn will head the newly created Office of Rural Prosperity. He will focus on expanding opportunities in rural communities by working with farmers, ranchers, business owners, health professional and communities.

Lynn has lived in Wichita for over 30 years with his wife, Kris. They have three adult children – Kyle, Kelsey, and Keegan – all of whom are graduates of Wichita North High School.


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.


Council for Information
and Technology Pathways


Council member & entrepreneur Alex Delaney has been a four-year advisor to the council for Information and Technology Pathways.  As an avid community activist Alex is on the board of many youth-oriented groups such as Junior Achievement & Communities in Schools, as well as a licensed soccer coach and experienced sports administrator. Alex is a believer of the importance of discovery and active application of learning in real world contexts. He is a graduate of Leadership Kansas (2016), Leadership Lawrence (2012), and a member of the 2020 class of Leadership Greater Topeka.



Kim Konecny manages the team that is responsible for recruiting the talent that empowers a better future for Evergy.

Kim has spent nearly her entire career in a recruiting function, having started as a recruiter with Westar Energy in 2012, and moving into a leadership role in Talent Acquisition in 2016.  Prior to joining the energy industry, Kim worked as an Executive Recruiter for a third-party recruiting firm helping her clients find talent in a variety of industries.

Kim received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Kansas.

She serves as the chair for the Greater Topeka Partnership’s TopCity Intern program.  She is on the board for Topeka’s Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Topeka Civic Theater & Academy, and is also on the leadership team at Fellowship Bible Church Hi-Crest campus.

Kim lives in Topeka with her husband, Jarrod, and her two children (Sawyer and Hattie).



As director, Silas Dulan has responsibility of developing, implementing and cultivating the overarching diversity and inclusion strategy for Evergy. Silas began with Westar Energy in 2016 as a Sr. HR Business Partner. He has served a Trading Analyst within the company’s Power Marketing Department. Most recently, he has been led the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts since June 2019.

Over the course of his career, he has worked as Financial Business Manager and University Recruiting Manager at Kiewit, Director of Multicultural Affairs and Director of Retention at Baker University and within Supply Chain at Sprint.

Silas holds a master’s degree in Management from Baker University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a minor in Psychology from Baker University.

He serves on the board for the United Way of Douglas County, a member KSHSAA, member of Class XII of Advance Kansas, member of YMCA Diversity & Inclusion Council of KC and original member of the KC Diversity and Inclusion Consortium.

Silas is a dedicated husband to his wife, Brandi, and three children (Silas IV, Quincey and Mack). He and his family lives in Lawrence, KS.


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 needs 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.


Flint Hills Job Corps Center

Aaron Estabrook is the Business and Community Liaison for Flint Hills Job Corps. He served on Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education from 2013-2015 and is currently serving on the Manhattan City Commission. Estabrook is building coalitions of employers and decision-makers across the state dedicated to the success of Job Corps students. He believes in the mission of Job Corps and is working each day to help our youth up and out of 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.


USDA Rural Development

Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk is the Chief Innovation Officer for USDA, Rural Development (RD) and leads the RD Innovation Office (IC).  The IC’s mission is to identify best practices and bring continuous improvement in program delivery to enhance the quality of life in rural communities. The Center works to transform rural communities through strategic partnerships, data analytics and evaluation, regulatory reform and enterprise risk management.

Jacki has served in various senior positions in RD over the last 12 years.  Prior to becoming the Innovation Officer, she served as Rural Development’s first CRO and was responsible for implementing Enterprise Risk Management and integrating it at all staff levels and into key Agency functions.  She was the Assistant Administrator for the RUS Water and Environmental Programs where, for nine years, she leads RD’s record investments in rural water and waste infrastructure and streamlined policies and processes to improve customer service and program results.  Under her leadership, the program invested more than $14 billion in new loans and grants for rural water and waste disposal systems across the Nation. As a result, 21 million rural residents will benefit from increased access to reliable and sustainable water and waste services.  Her programs also provided environmental support for all Rural Utilities Service Programs, including the Electric and Telecommunications Programs.

From 2006 to 2008 she served as the Rural Development Assistant Administrator for Telecommunications Program, promoting and supporting rural broadband deployment. She has also been called upon to lead major agency-wide efforts.  She was the career senior executive in charge of leading Rural Development’s implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), lead the consolidation and streamlining of environmental regulations and facilitated the implementation of the 2010 census.  She has also served as the Rural Utilities Service Chief of Staff and as Acting Administrator at various times during her tenure. 

Prior to joining USDA, she served in various positions over a 15‐year span at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Associate Bureau Chief for Outreach and Chief of Staff for the International Bureau.  In February 2018 she marked the completion of her 27th year in public service.  Ms. Ponti‐Lazaruk is a graduate of James Madison University in rural Virginia.


USDA Rural Development

Lynne Hinrichsen served the state of Kansas as the Agribusiness Development Director for the Kansas Department of Agriculture for the past four years. Prior to working in the public sector, she owned and operated a professional staffing service for 13 years where she provided human resource consulting services to companies as well as temporary and permanent employment opportunities to people.

She has an extensive background in sales, marketing, advertising, management, strategic planning and business development through her career in the staffing, beef cattle and food distribution industries. She remains active in the agricultural industry through membership in the American Angus Association, Kansas Angus Association, American Angus Auxiliary, Kansas Angus Auxiliary, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Kansas Livestock Association.  She has served in officer and committee roles within several of these organizations and most recently was the President of the American Angus Auxiliary after serving eight years on the board.

Hinrichsen is a graduate of Michigan State University with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Animal Science and Agricultural Communications. During college she was a member of the livestock, meats and horse judging teams and an active member of the MSU Block and Bridle organization.

For over 25 years, Lynne, her husband, Ron and their two children, Cale and Eva have owned and operated Hinrichsen Ranch, a registered Angus cattle operation in Westmoreland, Kansas. They have built their genetic program through an intensive artificial insemination and embryo transfer program with intent of producing functional, productive cattle with a balanced EPD profile. The ranch annually sells bulls and females in the fall to commercial and seed stock producers. In addition, the family has experience in marketing cattle internationally. The family enjoys successfully exhibiting cattle at the local, state and national levels each year.


USDA Farm Service Agency

David K. Schemm was appointed by the Trump Administration to serve as the state executive director of the Kansas State Farm Service Agency (FSA) in November 2017.

Schemm grew up in Sharon Springs, Kansas, where he and his wife, Lisa, also raised their two sons, Clay and Luke. He is a graduate of Ambassador University with a degree in theology. After graduation, he returned to the family farm while operating a custom crop-spraying business.

As a third-generation farmer, he grows wheat, corn, grain sorghum, and sunflowers. His farm was recognized with the Outstanding Farm Award from the Wallace County Chamber of Commerce and the Wallace County USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Banker’s Soil Conservation Award.

He was an active member of the Ag Data Advisory Committee, Field to Market board of directors and Ag Rail Business Council. He also participated in the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow program and the Wheat Organization Leaders of the Future program.  Schemm has testified in front of the Senate Ag committee on both the 2014 Farm Bill and the 2018 Farm Bill and the House Ag Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill.

Schemm has been a member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) since 2002. During his time with KAWG and NAWG, he served in numerous leadership roles, including president of both organizations.


US Department of Labor
Office of Apprenticeship

Lee Price hails from Clopton, Alabama where he graduated high school from Abbeville Christian Academy in Abbeville, Alabama. Following high school, he attended and graduated from the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Bainbridge, Maryland before attending and graduating with the Class of ’78 with a B.S. from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He also received a M.A. from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He is a retired U.S. Navy Commander and pilot, after serving over 20 years of active duty.  Navy awards include the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation medal, the NATO Balkan Operations Medal, a Navy Achievement Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, and 5 Meritorious Service Medals.

After retirement from the Navy, he served as the Training Director at Austal Shipbuilders in Mobile, AL where he built the state’s largest Registered Apprentice program. In 2014, he become the Arkansas State Director for the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. He was recently promoted to the Texas State Director for the Office of Apprenticeship, responsible for over 500 Registered Apprentice programs and 22,000 apprentices in the State of Texas. He is active in the US Naval Academy Alumni Association where he has served as the Chapter President for the Pensacola, FL chapter and National Trustee for the Naval Academy Alumni Association Board in Annapolis, MD. He is currently a member of the Community Affairs Committee for the Little Rock Air Force Base.


Northeast Workforce Development Board

Michelle Bish is a workforce development professional and has served as the Executive Director for the Northeast Workforce Development Board since May 2015.  Michelle began her career in workforce development in 2008 as a National Emergency Grant Coordinator in Southeast Kansas. Michelle also worked a project director and state program manager overseeing, WIOA programs and services. Michelle began her career in long term care health administration and is a licensed Assisted Living Director.

Michelle is a graduate of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance Leadership Academy.


Kansas WorkforceONE

As Executive Director of Kansas WorkforceONE, Deb Scheibler leads the workforce services in a 62 county area in Western Kansas.  She assumed her current role in June, 2012.  Prior to this, Scheibler served as the Program Director and Chief Fiscal Officer in Local Area I.  Scheibler leads a team of approximately 25 staff as they work with employers, job seekers, and training providers to identify eligible customers to train and match with employers.  In addition, Deb’s leadership has been responsible for maintaining performance that consistently exceeds common measures. 

Scheibler started in workforce development in 1999 when she worked as a Case Manager and One-Stop Operator for the Salina Chamber of Commerce.  Following her tenure with the Chamber, Deb expanded her duties with both WESTCO and Barton Community College serving as the Workforce Investment Act Program Director and One-Stop Coordinator.  Deb graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University with her B.S. in Business and Accounting.