Amber Shultz sworn in as Kansas’ new Department of Labor secretary

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly swore in Amber Shultz as she is permanently taking over Friday as Secretary for the Kansas Department of Labor.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Shultz shared her plans to help the department recover, after challenges it’s faced during the pandemic.

“We still have a heavy lift before us,” Shultz said. “We’re going to secure success by engaging stakeholders to shape an agency that Kansans deserve.”

Shultz will take over after Interim Secretary Ryan Wright, marking the second person to permanently take the seat in the pandemic since Delia Garcia resigned June 22, 2020 amid unemployment frustrations.

Shultz takes over as the unemployment claims’ supervising agency gathers momentum for upgrades to what Kelly called “a stone-age” computer system running the state’s unemployment system.

“When we began the search for the permanent Secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor, we knew we needed someone who could both lead the agency in its continued efforts to improve services for unemployed Kansans and oversee a complete overhaul of the out-of-date IT system, Amber has a wealth of leadership experience when it comes to technology and innovation, and I have no doubt she will hit the ground running at the Department of Labor as we work to modernize the unemployment insurance system.”

Governor Laura Kelly

Shultz has 25 years of experience in technology, according to the governor’s office. She worked previously as a Research Assistant at the Kansas Data Access & Support Center at the Kansas Geological Survey, and later as the General Manager of Municipal Services & Operations Department for the City of Lawrence.

“I appreciate the Senate’s swift confirmation of Secretary Shultz, Secretary Shultz has a wealth of leadership experience in technology and innovation – which makes her the perfect person to oversee our IT system modernization. She has already hit the ground running at the Department of Labor as we work to pay out essential benefits and modernize.”

Governor Laura Kelly

KDOL has been plagued with problems since the start of the pandemic, with many Kansans complaining they can get no response to inquiries.

The Kansas Senate confirmed her as the head of the agency in a 40-0 vote in March. Watch the full swearing-in ceremony below:

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