Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday announced her nomination of DeAngela Burns-Wallace for secretary of administration.
She replaces Duane Goossen, who is retiring after serving in the secretary position on an interim basis throughout the legislative session.
Burns-Wallace is the vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas and previously worked as a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department.
Kelly praised her work in high education, developing curriculum for diversity, inclusion, professional pathways and strategic planning.
"She's a leader who knows what it takes to move Kansas forward," Kelly said. "She has a long history of being a dedicated public servant, and that's exactly what we're looking for in the secretary of administration."
Burns-Wallace's federal work included stints in China and South Africa.
She recalled being quartered for safety at the U.S. embassy in South Africa, where she served as press attache during the onset of the Iraq War in 2003. Outside, anti-war protestors hurled Molotov cocktails at the embassy, she said.
As a college administrator, Burns-Wallace said, she discovered the skills she needed were similar to those she honed overseas. They include how you look at problems and policy, she said, and leveraging that information.
Burns-Wallace said she looked forward to meeting with colleagues in the Kelly administration before formally moving into the secretary position in July.
"It is humbling to be able step into a space in which the work we do impacts lives all over the state," Burns-Wallace said.
John Yeary, a legal adviser in the Department of Administration, will serve as interim secretary through the end of the month.
Kelly praised Goossen for his efforts to install accountability and transparency in state government, and to assess changes in the state employees health insurance rates.
In the five years before Kelly took office, the state lowered contributions to the health insurance fund, drained the reserve and imposed massive rate increases on employees with spouses and families. Goossen presided over the panel that reversed the trend by adopting 6 percent rate cuts to employees earlier this week.
Goossen previously served as budget director under Gov. Bill Graves, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Gov. Mark Parkinson. Goossen predicted severe revenue problems with the 2012 tax cuts adopted under Gov. Sam Brownback and advocated for their reversal.
"Duane has been trying to retire for years now, and after all he's done for my administration and for Kansas, I think it's probably time to let him do that," Kelly said. "He's earned it."