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Business News – Newly Hired, Retired, Promoted, Appointed to Topeka

Retirement and hiring

Brenda Mills, CEO of Family Service and Guidance Center, recently announced that she is retiring after 20 years at the helm and 32 years in total with the organization. She will step down on February 4, 2022. As the FSGC prepares for Mills’ departure, her board has formed a search committee to select the organization’s next CEO. During Mills’ tenure as CEO, FSGC has achieved many successes, including becoming an integral part of the Topeka healthcare community and a leading provider of behavioral health; cultivate positive relationships with all school districts in the area to become an essential part of their behavioral health teams; increasing from 130 employees to 250; the purchase of a building at 325 SW Frazier Ave. and the construction of two new buildings at 327 SW Frazier to centralize the organization on a campus; the creation of the FSGC Foundation in 2007 and the increase of its corpus to 3.2 million dollars; establish several new programs, including Night Crisis Services, Anxiety Treatment Program, Children with Autism Program, and School Mental Health Program.

Laurie Pieper, GO Topeka

GO Topeka recently announced that Laurie Pieper assumed the role of Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. In this role, Pieper will manage programs designed to support entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as to support the efforts of GO Topeka’s Senior Vice President of Innovation to build and foster relationships with local, regional and national partners. Pieper comes to GO Topeka from the Washburn University BRITE Center, where she was principal. Prior to this role, she was Deputy Director of the American Small Business Development Center at Washburn University. Pieper has extensive experience in small business development, in addition to several years of experience as a university professor at Kansas State University; University of Oregon; and University of California, Los Angeles. She received a BA from Clark University and an MA and PhD from UCLA. Pieper has also received the title of Certified Global Business Professional from NASBITE International.

Melissa Sowers, visit Topeka

Visit Topeka recently announced that Melissa Sowers was hired to fill the role of vice president of convention sales and marketing. This position leads Visit Topeka’s convention sales efforts by sourcing and securing prospects for future conventions and group tours that may take place in Topeka. The position is designed to have positive economic impacts on local tourism, travel partners and the wider Topeka community. Sowers will assume his role on October 1. Sowers got his start in tourism at a young age volunteering at the Atchison House for his mother, who is the event coordinator there. Sowers attended Washburn University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in mass media. She then turned to communication and events. Sowers moved to the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Garden City as Director of Events Sales and Planning. She has spent over half a decade there, developing her skills related to community promotion and event growth.

Jill Burtin, Kansas Department of Transportation

Jill burtin was appointed Inspector General of Kansas Department of Transportation. She took up her new duties in mid-September. Burtin was a teacher for four years, then spent 18 years with Mize CPA, preparing the financial statements and later the tax technical team. She was also a team leader in the accounting services department for many years. For the past two years, Burtin has worked at Keller and Owens in Overland Park, doing bookkeeping, financial statement preparation and sales tax returns for clients. KDOT’s Office of Inspector General is focusing on the audit processes and procedures already in place to help protect taxpayer dollars. The agency’s internal and contract auditors will now report to Burtin, so all auditors will be part of the office. Burtin is also working on the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline to make it more accessible to employees. The hotline will eventually be accessible to the public. Burtin and her husband, David, have seven nephews, six nieces and two grandnephews. They reside in Topeka.

Appointments and promotions

Stephen wade was hired as Topeka towndirector of financial and administrative services. During the past year, Wade served as Acting Director of Financial and Administrative Services and oversaw the 2022 budget process. Wade is pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Kansas. He received an MBA in accounting from the Florida Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree from KU. He graduated from Shawnee Heights High School. Wade previously served as Topeka City Budget Manager and, prior to that, was the Editor of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Wade’s starting salary as director of financial and administrative services is $ 128,479.

Gayle Larkin, Kansas Supreme Court / Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

The Kansas Supreme Court recently announced that they have selected Gayle Larkin serve as a disciplinary administrator and head the office responsible for investigating lawyers’ malpractice complaints. Larkin’s appointment takes effect October 3. She will succeed Stan Hazlett, who retired on September 3 after 24 years in the post. Larkin has been an advisor to the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys since 1999. In that capacity, she has authored over 500 final hearing reports in solicitor discipline cases. She also assisted the Disciplinary Administrator with administrative tasks related to the management of the office, including personnel matters, budgeting and contracts. Larkin has also overseen personality and fitness investigations of bar candidates and has presented more than 60 cases before the Kansas Board of Law Examiners. Larkin holds an undergraduate degree from Baker University and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. She is currently Director of the National Council of Lawyer Disciplinary Boards and is a member of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the National Client Protection Organization. She has been a senator at Baker University since April 2021. She resides in Lawrence.

Awards, distinctions and recognition

Washburn University recently announced that it has named the Price / Allendorf family, pictured here, as its “Family of the Year”.

Washburn University recently announced that it has appointed the Prize / Family Allendorf like his “Family of the Year. This designation honors their family’s dedication, support and enthusiasm for the university over the past decades. It also recognizes their embodiment of the Washburn University motto, Non Nobis Solum – Not for Ourselves Alone – qu ‘they have adopted throughout their careers and work in our community. Family heritage, good scholarships, and a desire to attend the same university led Angie and Scott Price to choose Washburn in the 1980s. However, their families had ties to the university before this point. Angie’s great-grandmother, Thelma Allendorf, as well as Angie’s great-aunt, uncle, aunt, cousin and sister have all frequented Washburn. Scott’s brother-in-law and aunt also graduated. As students, Angie and Scott left their own legacy at the university and continue to give back to the Washburn community today. The family and friends created the Angie Allend orf Price Fund at the Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation to honor Angie’s time with the Dancing Blues. This fund will be used to support future Dancing Blues, the program and travel opportunities. A generous donation of $ 5,000 was made by an anonymous donor in his honor. Recognizing a Family of the Year is an annual tradition at Washburn University that usually takes place as part of Family Weekend celebrations.

At the August 2021 annual meeting of the Kansas Public Transit Association, Topeka Metropolitan Transport Authority received a Innovation Award for the execution by the development department of a public transport operator recruitment video. The Kansas Public Transit Association annually rewards member transit agencies with an Innovation Award for the originality of their operations and services provided. Topeka Metro CEO Bob Nugent nominated the video for the award. Keri Renner, Director of Marketing and Communications at Topeka Metro, produced the video in-house. The video can be viewed on Topeka Metro’s website,, or on the organization’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media sites.

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