Business news — recently hired, retired, promoted, appointed in Topeka

Retiring & Hiring

Brenda Mills, CEO of Family Service & Guidance Center, recently announced she is retiring after 20 years at the helm and 32 years total with the organization. She will vacate her position on Feb. 4, 2022. As FSGC prepares for Mills’ departure, its board of directors has formed a search committee to select the organization’s next CEO. During Mills’ tenure as CEO, FSGC realized numerous successes, including becoming an integral part of the Topeka health care community and a flagship behavioral health provider; cultivating positive relationships with all area school districts to become an essential part of their behavioral health teams; growing from 130 staff members to 250; purchasing a building at 325 S.W. Frazier Ave. and constructing two new buildings at 327 S.W. Frazier to centralize the organization on one campus; creating the FSGC Foundation in 2007 and growing its corpus to $3.2 million; establishing several new programs, including overnight crisis services, the Anxiety Treatment Program, the Children’s Autism Program and the Mental Health in Schools Program.

Laurie Pieper, GO Topeka

GO Topeka recently announced that Laurie Pieper has assumed the position of vice president of entrepreneurship and small business. Within this position, Pieper will manage programming designed to support entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as support the efforts of GO Topeka’s senior vice president of innovation to establish and foster relationships with local, regional and national partners. Pieper comes to GO Topeka from the Washburn University BRITE Center, where she served as director. Prior to that role, she was the assistant director of America’s Small Business Development Center at Washburn University. Pieper possesses extensive experience in small business development, in addition to multiple years of experience as a university professor at Kansas State University; University of Oregon; and University of California, Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University and master’s and doctorate degrees from UCLA. Pieper also received the title of Certified Global Business Professional from NASBITE International.

Melissa Sowers, Visit Topeka

Visit Topeka recently announced that Melissa Sowers has been hired to fill the role of vice president of convention sales and marketing. This position leads Visit Topeka’s convention sales efforts by scouting and securing leads for future conventions and group tours that could take place in Topeka. The position is designed to result in positive economic impacts to local tourism, travel partners and the broader Topeka community. Sowers will assume her role on Oct. 1. Sowers got her start in tourism at an early age by volunteering at the Atchison Chamber for her mother, who is the event coordinator there. Sowers attended Washburn University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in mass media. She then transitioned into communications and events. Sowers established herself at Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in Garden City, as the sales director of events and planning. She spent more than half a decade there, developing her skills related to promoting the community and growing events.

Jill Burtin, Kansas Department of Transportation

Jill Burtin has been named inspector general of the Kansas Department of Transportation. She started in her new position in mid-September. Burtin was a teacher for four years, then spent 18 years with Mize CPA, preparing financial statements and, later on, the technical tax team. She also served as a team leader in the accounting services department for many years. For the past two years, Burtin has worked at Keller and Owens in Overland Park, doing bookkeeping, financial statement preparation and sales tax returns for clients. KDOT’s Office of Inspector General focuses on auditing processes and procedures already in place to help protect taxpayer dollars. Both the internal auditors and the agency’s contract auditors will now serve under Burtin so that all auditors will be part of the office. Burtin is also working on the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline to help make it more accessible to employees. The hotline will eventually be available to the public. Burtin and her husband, David, have seven nephews, six nieces and two great-nephews. They reside in Topeka.