About the Kansas Department of Labor

Mission Statement

The Kansas Department of Labor provides workers and employers with information and services that are accurate and timely, efficient and effective, fair and impartial. Administered by employees that understand the value and importance of public service to their fellow Kansans.

Vision

An empowering employer providing resources and economic security to all Kansans.

Information about KDOL programs:

Agency Philosophy and Values

We are dedicated to providing professional services to all Kansans while holding ourselves to the highest possible levels of integrity and accountability. Our work is characterized by:

  • Respect for one another and for those we serve
  • Emphasis on quality and accountability
  • Clear and concise internal and external communication
  • Stewardship of public resources
  • Collaborative partnerships internally and externally on local, state and national levels
Note: The Kansas Department of Labor business hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. C.S.T.

The Kansas Department of Labor has changed over the years. In its first appearance, as the State Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics in 1885, its duties were to "collect, assort and present to the governor, in annual reports, statistics relating to all departments of labor and industry in the state, especially in their relation to the commercial, industrial, social, educational and sanitary condition of the laboring classes." The Labor Market Information Services Division (LMIS) continues many of these responsibilities.

  • From 1888 to 1912 the agency increased its responsibilities and was known as the Bureau of Labor and Industry.
  • Following passage of the first comprehensive Kansas child labor law in 1905 and the first workers compensation law in 1911, the agency became the Department of Labor and Industry in 1913. By the following year the "and Industry" had been informally dropped from the agency name.
  • The Division of Unemployment Compensation began in 1937 under the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. This followed the 1936 federal law requiring employers to contribute to a federal unemployment tax fund if there was no state fund established.
  • In 1939 the agency was reorganized as the Department of Labor.
  • In 1939, the Office of Workmen’s Compensation began as a separate agency. It became the Office of the Director of Workers Compensation in 1961 and subsequently became a division in the Department of Labor.
  • The agency was headed by a Commissioner until after 1975 when the chief administrator became a Secretary.
  • In 1976 the agency was reorganized by Executive Order as the Kansas Department of Human Resources. An Executive Order in 2004 again reorganized the agency and renamed it the Kansas Department of Labor.

The Kansas Department of Labor currently administers the Kansas Unemployment Insurance program and state workers compensation system; enforces Kansas employment standards, including wage and hour laws and child labor laws; provides assistance with workplace safety and health issues; and continues to gather and disseminate statistics on Kansas employment and other economic issues.

Amber Shultz
Secretary

Secretary Amber Shultz joined KDOL from the City of Lawrence, where she worked as the General Manager of Municipal Services and Operations. During her time there, she led the effort to rebuild the city’s enterprise and operational services and facilitate efficient data management. Prior to this, she served as the Deputy Director of Public Works for the City of Topeka, and Assistant IT Director for Jackson County, Missouri. Her career focused on innovation and modernization with different public and private organizations in both Kansas and Missouri. Secretary Shultz holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration both from the University of Kansas.

Peter Brady
Deputy Secretary

Peter Brady joined KDOL in 2018 as the Director of Industrial Safety and Health (ISH). In addition to leading the ISH division, Peter previously served as the agency’s Legislative Liaison. Prior to joining KDOL Peter served in the United States Army. Peter holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Texas Tech University and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the University of Arkansas. He is currently a Master of Business Administration candidate at the University of Kansas.

Sandy Johnson
Chief of Staff

Sandy is originally from Rochester, New York, and earned a Political Science degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo. She joined KDOL in 2021 after serving 25 years in various roles in the Adjutant General’s Department, the Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Sandy worked for a small consulting firm in Kansas City as a project manager and is certified in Information Technology Project Management Methodology. She is an Army veteran and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas. 

Angela Berland
Labor Market Information Services (LMIS) Director

Angela is originally from Damar, Kansas, and graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media in 1998. After working in the Secretary of State’s office throughout college, she joined KDOL’s LMIS division in 1997 as a part-time intern. She worked in several different Research Analyst positions at KDOL, became a Unit Supervisor in 2005 and then Deputy Director in 2009. Angela served on numerous internal committees and on multi-agency initiatives and currently serves on the National Policy Council of the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program and is on the National Board for the Labor Market Information Services.

Jerry Grasso
Communications Director

Jerry Grasso is the Kansas Department of Labor’s communications director. Prior to this position, he was the vice president of marketing and communications at the YMCA of Central Kentucky. Previously, he handled brand and reputation work for Equifax after the company’s cybersecurity incident in 2017, and before that was senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Lexmark International. Grasso has also served as vice president of corporate communications for the Lexington-based printer manufacturer. In that position, he was responsible for public relations, internal communications and corporate creative services. Before Lexmark, Grasso was vice president of corporate communications at EarthLink Inc., one of the country’s largest internet service providers. Prior to EarthLink, he was director of corporate communications for Epoch Internet. Additionally, he has worked at the ARIS Corporation and with Sprint’s business division. Grasso holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Kansas State University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Kelly Johnson
Chief Information Technology Officer

Kelly Johnson joined the KDOL team in 2020 as the Chief Technology Information Officer, transferring from the Kansas Highway Patrol where he had served three-years as their CIO. Prior to joining state service, Kelly worked as CEO and CIO of several independent rural telephone companies, where he was given the privilege to design and implement Kansas’ first commercial Internet Service Provider. Kelly has a Bachelor’s degree from DeVry in Technical Management, a Master’s Degree from Baptist Bible College in Biblical studies, and is a licensed Baptist pastor.

 

Jeffrey E. King
Workers Compensation Director

Jeff was born in Topeka, Ks and grew up in Salina. He graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) degree in 1978, and from Washburn University School of Law in 1980. Jeff was in private practice in Salina from March 1981, until joining the Kansas Department of Labor in May 2018, the last 28 years in private practice were with the firm of Hampton & Royce L.C. Jeff practiced primarily in the area of workers compensation and at one time served on the Workers Compensation Advisory Council. He has been a co-editor and chapter author of the last three editions of the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) Workers Compensation Handbook and is a Fellow in The College of Workers Compensation Lawyers.

Julie Menghini
Government Affairs Director

Julie is a lifelong Kansan with a dedication to service. She served eight years in the Kansas House of Representatives, including two years as the Minority Whip. She graduated from Pittsburg State University and holds the Senior Certified Professional Certification from the Society of Human Resource Management. Prior to joining KDOL, she worked as the Human Resource Director for Pittsburg Community Schools USD 250. She worked as the Communications and Legislative Director for one and a half years prior to the transition to Government Affairs Director.

Dawn Palmberg
Fiscal Director

Dawn joined KDOL as the Chief Financial Officer in 2013 and continues to serve the agency in this role. She has been in public service accounting for over 18 years. Prior to KDOL, Dawn worked for the Adjutant General's Department, the Kansas Insurance Department and the Kansas Water Office in various accounting roles. She earned her Bachelor of Accountancy from Washburn University in 2003 and her Masters of Accountancy from Emporia State University in 2020.

Laurel Klein Searles
Director of Unemployment Insurance Administration

Laurel Klein Searles is originally from Minneapolis, Kansas. She graduated from Kansas State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Laurel then moved on to the Washburn University School of Law. She graduated with Deans Honors in 2008. Immediately after graduation, she began working as Staff Attorney with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. In 2012, Laurel joined KDOL as an Appeals Referee. She was then promoted to Chief of Appeals in September 2015. In October 2018, Laurel joined the Social Security Administration as an Attorney Advisor. She is pleased to be returning to KDOL to serve as Director of Unemployment Insurance.

Amy B. Selm
Director of Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Amy B. Selm joined KDOL in 2020. She previously was the Assistance Team Manager for Business and Community Development at the Kansas Department of Commerce. Prior to working for the State, Amy worked for 20+ years at the corporate headquarters for Payless ShoeSource Worldwide in Topeka, KS. She has a MA from Indiana University – Bloomington, a BA from Bowling Green State University, and completed coursework at the OU Economic Development Institute. She has lived and worked in Kansas for over 25 years

Allen Vinyard
Director of Industrial Safety and Health

Allen received a Bachelor of Science in Safety Management from the University of Central Missouri. He joined KDOL in 2010 as a Safety Consultant. He holds both the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designations.

Justin Whitten
Chief Counsel

Justin is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. He completed his undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he majored in Applied Mathematics. Justin received his law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, MO. Immediately after graduating, he joined the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), starting as an Honors Attorney before becoming a Trial Attorney. Justin joined KDOL in March 2019 as Chief Counsel. Admitted in Kansas and Missouri.

Lacie Worcester
Human Resource Director

Lacie joined KDOL in October 2012 as an Auditor in the Audit and Investigations unit. She transitioned to Human Resources in December 2014 and was promoted to Human Resource Director in January 2016. Prior to joining KDOL, Lacie was a Program Administrator with the Department of Commerce.