Kelly nominees clear Senate committee


A Senate committee on Friday signed off on five appointments made by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. The appointees will now go to the full Senate for approval next session.

Here are the nominees approved by the Senate confirmation oversight committee:

Col. Jason Nelson, brigadier general, Kansas National Guard.

A graduate of Emporia State University, Nelson started his military career in 1990 as an armored tank crewman.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Emporia State University in 1995.

He has deployed three times with the National Guard, once in Kosovo from October 2004 through February 2006, then to Afghanistan from November 2010 through October 2011.  Nelson serves at the pleasure of the governor.

Nelson’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters.

Jill Geren, member of the Kansas Human Rights Commission.

Graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She also earned a law degree from the University of Kansas and worked as a prosecutor for the Sedgwick County district attorney. She now sells real estate.

Geren told senators how she grew up in poverty with her dad and her brother. She said there were times when her family didn’t have running water or electricity and struggled to put food on the table. At one point, she was placed in foster care while growing up.

Jon Small, member, Kansas Development Finance Authority.

An attorney with a military background, Small served as in the early 2000s as the commanding general of the Kansas Army National Guard. He also served as the judge advocate general for the Kansas National Guard.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Kansas State and a law degree from Washburn University. He also attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Debbie Wilkerson, member, University of Kansas Hospital Authority.

President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. She previously worked as the foundation’s general counsel and chief operating officer.

She also worked an estate and attorney for Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a law degree from the University of Kansas. She would serve a four-year term expiring March 15, 2025.

Jo Yun, member, Kansas Public Employee’s Retirement System. Vice president of finance and operations at The REACH Healthcare Foundation. She previously worked at Sprint as assistant vice president of technology services finance and director of long distance operations analysis.

She also worked for the Knight Ridder newspaper company as assistant treasurer at the company’s Miami headquarters in the mid-1990s. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kansas State University and a master’s in business administration from Northwestern University.

The committee also approved these reappointments:

  • Chris Donnelly, member of the Kansas Development Finance Authority for a four-year term expiring Jan. 15, 2025.
  • Laurel Michel Driskell, member, State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services for a three-year term expiring Jan. 15, 2024.
  • Jack Newman, member, of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority to a four-year term expiring March 15, 2024.
  • Braden Perry, member, State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services to serve a three-year term expiring Jan. 15, 2023.