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Executive Biographies

Secretary's Office 

Thomas B. Stephens
Secretary

Thomas Stephens is an attorney and entrepreneur focused on new business development. He is a graduate of Tulane University and the Loyola University School of Law. Upon graduating law school, Tom was awarded a Presidential Management Fellowship in Washington, DC and focused his work on regulatory compliance, antitrust regulation, and alternative dispute resolution of international maritime common carriers.

Stephens has held various positions in government, including service as General Counsel to the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet. He also served on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance for four years and was a staff attorney at the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. 

Stephens’ corporate experience includes a tenure as Corporate Counsel for Alltech, an international animal health and nutrition company, where he also served as a manager of Alltech’s title sponsorship of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Additionally, Tom served for three years as Director of the Alltech Fortnight Festival during which he produced numerous ticketed concerts across the state with artists ranging in diversity from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to the Beach Boys.

 

LaDonna Koebel
Chief of Staff

LaDonna joined the Personnel Cabinet as Chief of Staff in October, 2016. Ms. Koebel has 22 years of legal experience in the areas of employment law & civil rights litigation, and 11 years legal experience representing a state agency in the areas of administrative law, civil litigation, appellate work, legislative initiatives, policy development and administrative regulations. Most recently, LaDonna served as Acting Commissioner to the Department of Juvenile Justice and was the agency’s Deputy General Counsel for 11 years. Prior to working in state government, LaDonna practiced law in both Lexington and London, Kentucky. She has successfully represented agencies, municipalities, and individuals in both State and Federal Court. LaDonna is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, as well as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to her legal experience, she has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Eastern Kentucky University since 1994, teaching courses on legal issues. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, LaDonna graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky. She also attended courses at the American University in Washington, D.C., and worked as a Congressional Intern on Capitol Hill. Ms. Koebel holds a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky. While attending law school, she worked as a Clerk to Honorable Judge Roger Crittenden, Franklin Circuit Court, and as a Clerk for the Kentucky Justice Cabinet.

 

Office of Administrative Services

​Robbie S. Perkins 
Division of Technology Services
Chief Information Officer

Robbie brings more than 25 years of experience in information technology, accounting, and human resources with the last 12 of those years in service at the Personnel Cabinet. Robbie is a member of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and serves on the KY Chapter Board of Directors as President-elect. A native of Madison County, Robbie attended Eastern Kentucky University where he majored in accounting and received his Certified Public Manager (CPM) certification from GSC and now resides in Frankfort.

 

Office of Public Affairs

​ ​​​Jodi Whitaker 
Executive Director

Jodi brings more than 20 years of communications experience to the Personnel Cabinet, including two previous stints in state government. She served as a special assistant to the Personnel Cabinet secretary from 2004-2005 and as press secretary for Gov. Ernie Fletcher from 2005-2007. She also served as communications director for the Senate Majority Caucus from 2013-2014. Jodi studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and was working as News Editor of the Richmond Register when she made the move to state government.

 

Department of Employee Insurance

​ ​​​Jenny Goins, SPHR 
Commissioner

Jenny brings more than 25 years of experience in human resources and training and organization development. Jenny has spent the last 10 years in the corporate world as both organizational development manager and HR leader. She retired from the United States Air Force as a Chief Master Sergeant after a 26-year career that included duties related to communication, public affairs, journalism, personnel and education. Jenny is a member of the Bluegrass Society of Human Resource Management and serves on the Chapter Board of Directors as Professional Development Director. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund. She has a Bachelor Degree in Organizational Management and a Masters Degree in Adult Learning from Tusculum College, Greeneville, TN.

 

Matt Hall
Deputy Commissioner

Matt is from Ashland and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in History.  He brings 20 years of experience in the operations and administration of health benefits to his position.  Matt has previously served in state government in the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, the Office of the Governor, and the Personnel Cabinet.

 

Department of Human Resources Administration

Mary Elizabeth Bailey
Commissioner

Mary Elizabeth has worked in State Government, specifically in Human Resources, for more than 20 years. Throughout her career she has served on numerous committees and is a member of the National Association for State Personnel Executives, International Personnel Management Association, and Society for Human Resource Management. In her role as Commissioner, she oversees the administration of the Commonwealth's employment application process; state payroll functions; official personnel records for state employees; the state Classification and Compensation system; and the statewide Performance Management Program.  Ms. Bailey attended Kentucky Wesleyan College where she majored in Business Administration. She resides in Frankfort with her husband Todd Bailey and their three children.​

 

Kentucky Public Employees' Deferred Compensation Authority

Chris Biddle
Acting Executive Director

 

Office of Diversity and Equality

Christopher "Chris" L. Johnson
Executive Director

Chris has an extensive background in Diversity education, recruitment and retention  as well as strategic planning and outreach initiatives.  Throughout his professional career, he has held numerous roles related to the work of inclusion, mentoring and effective communication.  Chris’ passion projects include proactively addressing issues of diversity and inclusion, as well as workshop presentation, event planning and mentoring.  Chris has served as the chair of various diversity and cultural competence planning teams, and has been a presenter of numerous workshops on leadership, communication and diversity.  In addition to his time as a diversity educator and recruiter, Chris has worked as a liaison with the Area Health Education Center Program (AHEC), to honor the goal of opening the doors of education to minority and other underrepresented groups around the state of Kentucky.  He also worked as the program’s Associate Administrator with responsibility for working with several program initiatives.  Chris professional portfolio includes classroom teaching and community outreach.

Chris’ outside interests include health and wellness and a commitment to volunteerism.  A native of Lexington, Chris is a proud graduate of the University of Louisville, and currently resides in Georgetown with his wife Caisey and their daughter Londen.

 

Wes Swarner
Deputy Executive Director

Wes has more than 31 years of experience in management training and employee development. Since 2009, Wes has served as the Acting Executive Director for GSC on multiple occasions. Wes received his certification in Lean Production Systems from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Manufacturing. Prior to joining state government, he spent 21 years in the United States Army, retiring in 1999. Originally from Beavercreek, Ohio, Wes is a graduate of the University of Louisville, with a BS in Health Occupations Education. He resides in Versailles with his wife, Lisa.​​

 

Office of Legal Services

Lesley Bilby
Executive Director

Lesley Bilby is an attorney with a background in employment law and civil litigation.  Lesley is a graduate of Centre College and the University of Kentucky College of Law.  She also holds an M.Phil. in International Relations from the University of Cambridge.  Prior to law school, Lesley worked in Washington, D.C. in the office of U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, handling energy, environmental, labor, and education issues.  After law school, Lesley served as a law clerk on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and later as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  She then worked in private practice in Louisville.

 

Sharron Burton
Deputy Executive Director

Sharron received her Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Kentucky in 1989, and in 1993, Sharron received her degree of Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville School of Law. In 1994, Sharron began her career in state government at the Department of Insurance where, over the course of 19 years, she served as legal counsel, chief market conduct examiner, General Counsel, and Director of the Health and Life Division. Sharron joined the Personnel Cabinet Office of Legal Services as the Deputy Executive Director in February 2013. In this position, Sharron serves as legal counsel for the Cabinet's branches and departments that provide a variety of employee benefits such as life insurance, employee assistance, and the Kentucky Employees' Health Plan (KEHP). In addition, Sharron serves as the HIPAA Privacy Officer for KEHP.  ​​