Retiring & Hiring
Laurie Pigg will be retiring from ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., which operates locally as Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas, on Sept. 17. Pigg joined the agency — then named Everywoman’s Resource Center — on Nov. 16, 1981. Pigg said her greatest passion has always originated from helping people, and she has enjoyed her years working with clients, volunteers and staff. In retirement, Pigg plans to spend her time volunteering and enjoying her animals. A retirement celebration for Pigg will be held on Sept. 17. For details, contact 785-357-5171.
Marisa Bayless was recently hired to serve as deputy special counsel to Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert. The deputy special counsel helps plan and organize the judicial branch legislative program, executes special projects and programs, and performs legal research and writes memoranda on special topics. She will work with Shawn Jurgensen, who is special counsel to the chief justice. Bayless, a Wichita native, was previously a research analyst for the Kansas Legislative Research Department. She graduated from Wichita State University magna cum laude and the University of Kansas School of Law. Bayless has also worked as a legal and policy associate for the Colorado Charter School Institute and as a policy analyst for the Colorado Senate President.
Appointments & Promotions
Nicki Flanagan was recently promoted to vice president of human resources and administrative services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. In that role, she is responsible for all aspects of human resources, including talent acquisition; total rewards; employee relations; diversity, equity and inclusion; HR projects; HR information systems; and corporate health and wellness initiatives. In addition, she oversees corporate procurement, vendor management and facilities management for all owned and leased properties, including security and maintenance. Flanagan also has executive oversight of the company’s workforce and leadership development program. Flanagan joined BCBSKS in 2016 and was promoted to director of human resources in 2017. In 2018, Flanagan was recognized by The Wichita Business Journal as an honoree for the HR Professionals Award. She volunteers her time locally with Junior Achievement, the Seaman Booster Club and the Elmont Elementary Site Council. A Lawrence native, Flanagan holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, with a minor in business administration, from Kansas State University. She now lives in Topeka with her husband, Blake, and their children, Jackson, Noah and Mackenzie.
Kansas Corporation Commission Chair Andrew French is one of 10 state utility regulators selected to serve on a new Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission. The first meeting of the task force, which includes all Commissioners from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in addition to selected state regulators, is set for Nov. 10. Coordination on how to plan and pay for new transmission investments as the nation transitions to cleaner energy sources will be among the topics addressed by the task force. French was appointed to the Kansas Corporation Commission in June 2020. He was elected chair in January 2021 and currently participates on several Southwest Power Pool committees. Prior to his appointment to the KCC, French practiced law with a private firm focused on utility rates and regulation, including evaluation of cost and service impacts associated with transmission investment. Before working in private practice, he held a variety of staff attorney positions at the KCC, including that of senior litigation counsel.
Awards, Honors & Recognition
Karen Arnold-Burger, chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals, was recently named the 2021 recipient of the Robert L. Gernon Award presented by the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Board. Established in 2005, the Gernon Award recognizes individuals or organizations demonstrating a unique commitment to legal education for lawyers in Kansas and providing outstanding service to continuing legal education. Arnold-Burger was nominated by the Kansas Women Attorney’s Association, the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka and Chief Justice Marla Luckert. In the nomination letters, all highlighted the impact Arnold-Burger has had on the legal profession in Kansas. She has presented over 118 continuing legal education and continuing judicial education programs in the past 10 years, the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka said in its nomination. Arnold-Burger graduated with a degree in political science and psychology from the University of Kansas in 1979 and from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1981. She was a municipal court judge for 20 years in Overland Park before joining the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2011.
SmartAsset.com, the largest marketplace connecting consumers to financial advisors, recently released a study ranking Topeka as the No. 12 “best state capital city to live in.” The study used metrics in three categories — employment and education, affordability, and livability — to determine the rankings. Topeka ranks alongside Madison, Wis. (No. 1); Lincoln, Neb. (No. 4); and Des Moines, Iowa (No. 10). The capital of Kansas ranked higher than Austin, Texas (No. 16); Nashville, Tenn. (No. 25); and Oklahoma City, Okla. (No. 26).
The Topeka Public Schools Foundation recently announced Bartlett & West as the foundation’s 2021 Patron Award recipient for their support of the TPS Foundation. Bartlett & West provides both financial and professional support to improve TPS student experiences and the communities they serve. Bartlett & West will be recognized for their long-standing commitment at the TPS Foundation’s 35th anniversary celebration on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
In July, the Kansas Volunteer Commission notified Topeka Habitat for Humanity that it was the first nonprofit in the state to become Service Enterprise Certified. The prestigious award was approved by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. This certification recognizes Topeka Habitat for Humanity as a leading organization in volunteer engagement. To earn the certification, they completed an extensive organizational assessment, 19 hours of training, 10 hours of coaching, intensive planning and implementation of change management practices. Topeka Habitat for Humanity joined the top-performing 11% of nonprofits nationwide by achieving this level of excellence. Meeting the certification criteria means they are fully equipped to utilize the time and talent of volunteers to expand and enhance services.