Kelly’s committee tasked with reopening Kansas economy has some Lawrence connections

Chuck Magerl, owner of Free State Brewing Company, is pictured outside Free State on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

As Kansas begins reopening the state economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday that her administration had compiled a 20-person committee tasked with directing the state’s efforts.

That committee, called the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas task force, or SPARK for short, has two connections to the Lawrence area.

First is Chuck Magerl, owner of the Free State Brewing Company. Magerl has appeared alongside Kelly at news conferences since the pandemic began, and he was appointed in December to serve on Kansas’ Council on Travel and Tourism as the restaurant industry representative.

Magerl will serve on one of SPARK’s three subcommittees. The committee is headed by a five-person executive staff, with the other 15 members comprising the subcommittees — which haven’t yet been made public.

“The health and economic challenges COVID-19 inflicted on our state truly are unprecedented – and we must use our collective talents to develop strategies to not only regain what we lost, but build a better, more inclusive and resilient economy,” Kelly said in a news release.

The second connection to the Lawrence area comes in the chair of the task force, Cheryl Harrison-Lee. From Gardner, Harrison-Lee was one of three finalists for the Lawrence city manager position in 2015, but the job ultimately went to Tom Markus, who left the office in 2019.

Cheryl Harrison-Lee

The other members of the committee are as follows:

Executive committee

• Tom Bell, president and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association, Topeka;

• Lyle Butler, president and CEO, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce (retired), Manhattan;

• Sen. Jim Denning, vice president, Discover Vision Centers, Overland Park;

• Jill Docking, senior vice president, The Docking Group – Baird Financial, Wichita;

• Alise Martiny, business manager, Greater KC Building and Trades Council, Shawnee.

Steering committee

• Natalie Haag, attorney, Capitol Federal Savings, Topeka;

• Tom Gentile, CEO, Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita;

• David Harwood, senior vice president, Terracon Consultants & Chair, KANSASWorks State Board, Olathe;

• Senator Tom Hawk, ranking minority member, Senate Ways and Means Committee, Manhattan;

• Rep. Dan Hawkins, House majority leader, Wichita;

• Edward Honesty Jr., president and chief operating officer, Best Harvest Bakeries, Kansas City, Kan.;

• Chuck Magerl, proprietor, Free State Brewing Company, Lawrence;

• David McCarty, owner, McCarty Family Farms, Colby;

• Sen. Carolyn McGinn, chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee, Sedgwick;

• Shelia Nelson-Stout, president and CEO, OCCK Inc., Salina;

• Neelima Parasker, president and CEO, SnapIT Solutions, Overland Park;

• Jim Robinson, Partner, Hite Fanning and Honeyman, Wichita;

• Secretary David Toland, Department of Commerce, Topeka;

• Rep. Troy Waymaster, Chair, House Appropriations Committee, Bunker Hill;

• Rep. Kathy Wolfe-Moore, ranking minority member, House Appropriations Committee, Kansas City, Kan.

“The state’s recovery effort must serve urban and rural areas alike across the state, and all sectors of the economy,” Kelly said. “I am grateful that our team membership reflects these ideals, and I want to thank these leaders for their willingness to serve in such challenged times.


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