Business news — recently hired, retired, promoted, appointed in Topeka – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Brenda Mills, CEO of Family Service & Guidance Center, recently announced she is retiring after 20 years at the helm and 32 years total with the organization. She will vacate her position on Feb. 4, 2022. As FSGC prepares for Mills’ departure, its board of directors has formed a search committee to select the organization’s next CEO. During Mills’ tenure as CEO, FSGC realized numerous successes, including becoming an integral part of the Topeka health care community and a flagship behavioral health provider; cultivating positive relationships with all area school districts to become an essential part of their behavioral health teams; growing from 130 staff members to 250; purchasing a building at 325 S.W. Frazier Ave. and constructing two new buildings at 327 S.W. Frazier to centralize the organization on one campus; creating the FSGC Foundation in 2007 and growing its corpus to $3.2 million; establishing several new programs, including overnight crisis services, the Anxiety Treatment Program, the Children’s Autism Program and the Mental Health in Schools Program.
GO Topeka recently announced that Laurie Pieper has assumed the position of vice president of entrepreneurship and small business. Within this position, Pieper will manage programming designed to support entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as support the efforts of GO Topeka’s senior vice president of innovation to establish and foster relationships with local, regional and national partners. Pieper comes to GO Topeka from the Washburn University BRITE Center, where she served as director. Prior to that role, she was the assistant director of America’s Small Business Development Center at Washburn University. Pieper possesses extensive experience in small business development, in addition to multiple years of experience as a university professor at Kansas State University; University of Oregon; and University of California, Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University and master’s and doctorate degrees from UCLA. Pieper also received the title of Certified Global Business Professional from NASBITE International.
Visit Topeka recently announced that Melissa Sowers has been hired to fill the role of vice president of convention sales and marketing. This position leads Visit Topeka’s convention sales efforts by scouting and securing leads for future conventions and group tours that could take place in Topeka. The position is designed to result in positive economic impacts to local tourism, travel partners and the broader Topeka community. Sowers will assume her role on Oct. 1. Sowers got her start in tourism at an early age by volunteering at the Atchison Chamber for her mother, who is the event coordinator there. Sowers attended Washburn University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in mass media. She then transitioned into communications and events. Sowers established herself at Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in Garden City, as the sales director of events and planning. She spent more than half a decade there, developing her skills related to promoting the community and growing events.
Jill Burtin has been named inspector general of the Kansas Department of Transportation. She started in her new position in mid-September. Burtin was a teacher for four years, then spent 18 years with Mize CPA, preparing financial statements and, later on, the technical tax team. She also served as 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 focuses on auditing processes and procedures already in place to help protect taxpayer dollars. Both the internal auditors and the agency’s contract auditors will now serve under Burtin so that all auditors will be part of the office. Burtin is also working on the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline to help make it more accessible to employees. The hotline will eventually be available to the public. Burtin and her husband, David, have seven nephews, six nieces and two great-nephews. They reside in Topeka.
Stephen Wade has been hired as the city of Topeka‘s director of financial and administrative services. For the past year, Wade has been serving as the acting director of financial and administrative services and oversaw the 2022 budget process. Wade is pursuing a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas. He earned an MBA in accounting from the Florida Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree from KU. He is a graduate of Shawnee Heights High School. Wade previously held the position of budget manager for the city of Topeka and, prior to that, was publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal. Wade’s starting salary as director of financial and administrative services is $128,479.
The Kansas Supreme Court recently announced it has selected Gayle Larkin to serve as disciplinary administrator and lead the office responsible for investigating attorney misconduct complaints. Larkin’s appointment takes effect Oct. 3. She will succeed Stan Hazlett, who retired Sept. 3 after 24 years in the position. Larkin has served as counsel to the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys since 1999. In that role, she drafted more than 500 final hearing reports in attorney discipline cases. She also helped the disciplinary administrator carry out administrative duties related to managing the office, including personnel matters, budgeting and contracts. Larkin has also overseen character and fitness investigations of bar applicants and has presented more than 60 cases before the Kansas Board of Law Examiners. Larkin has an undergraduate degree from Baker University and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. She currently serves as a 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 faculty senator at Baker University since April 2021. She resides in Lawrence.
Washburn University recently announced it has named the Price/Allendorf family as its “Family of the Year.” This designation honors their family’s dedication to, support of and enthusiasm for the university over the last several decades. It also acknowledges their embodiment of the Washburn University motto, Non Nobis Solum — Not for Ourselves Alone — which they have embraced through their careers and work in our community. Family legacy, good scholarships and wanting 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 that point. Angie’s great grandmother, Thelma Allendorf, as well as Angie’s great aunt, uncle, aunt, cousin and sister all attended Washburn. Scott’s brother-in-law and aunt are also graduates. As students, Angie and Scott left their own legacy on the university and continue to give back to the Washburn community today. Family and friends have created the Angie Allendorf 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 given from an anonymous donor in her honor. Recognizing a family of the year is an annual tradition at Washburn University that typically occurs as part of Family Weekend celebrations.
At the August 2021 annual meeting of the Kansas Public Transit Association, Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority received an Innovation Award for the department’s execution of developing a transit operator recruitment video. The Kansas Public Transit Association annually honors member transit agencies with an Innovation Award for originality in their operations and services provided. Topeka Metro general manager 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, topekametro.org, or on the organization’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn social media sites.

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