The commission that regulates utilities in Kansas on Wednesday hired a top-level state Department of Agriculture official as its new executive director.
The Kansas Corporation Commission said Kim Christiansen will supervise its staff of more than 200 employees. Its announcement did not say exactly when she would begin working at the KCC full time, though the transition will begin immediately, even as she continues working at the agriculture agency.
She will replace Patti Petersen-Klein, who left the executive director's job earlier this month. Since Petersen-Klein's departure, the three-member KCC has had its director of administration and finance serve as interim executive director.
Petersen-Klein left after The Topeka Capital-Journal published contents of a consultant's report based on interviews and surveys KCC employees. In the report, Petersen-Klein described the KCC's staff as dysfunctional, and employees criticized her management style. The consultants concluded that the rift between her and the staff couldn't be repaired.
Christiansen is an assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture and its general counsel. She is a former general counsel to the Kansas Water Office and Fort Hays State University, and she's taught employment law classes at Fort Hays State and been an attorney in private practice.
KCC Chairman Mark Sievers cited Christiansen's professional experience, saying she brings "a wealth of knowledge" from both the public and private sectors.
"She has extensive management and legal expertise that will assist the Commission in analyzing complex issues," he said in a statement.