Governor Beshear announces leadership appointments
FRANKFURT, Ky. – Governor Andy Beshear announced that Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown and Acting Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development Larry Hayes will be retiring from state government and thanked them for their guidance.
John Hicks will assume the role of Executive Secretary to the Governor’s Office while continuing to serve as the State’s Budget Director. The Governor has appointed Jeff Noel as the new Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development.
Governor Beshear said Secretary Brown had helped lead the executive branch through some of the most difficult times in recent history, as the Commonwealth faced a century-long pandemic and multiple natural disasters, including floods, ice storms and the deadliest tornadoes in the community’s history.
“My decision to leave private practice and join state government in 2007 under Governor Steve Beshear was easy. After eight years as Cabinet Secretary Justice and Public Safety, I had the opportunity to serve another Beshear. First in the Attorney General’s Office and now as Executive Cabinet Secretary,” Secretary Brown said. “Leaving Andy Beshear’s administration is a difficult decision, but one that was prompted by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join Chairman Kevin Cosby at Simmons. I can think of no better use of my experience and training than to help to prepare the careers of young students at our only private HBCU.
Secretary Brown most recently served as Deputy Attorney General under then-Attorney General Andy Beshear and Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Public Safety for eight years prior. A former Jefferson County District Court Judge, he served as the City of Louisville’s Chief Legal Officer, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, and served on the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors for 12 years, including six years as a President of the council. Brown was the first elected African-American president of the Louisville Bar Association and chaired the Kentucky Bar Association’s Minority Task Force. He is a military veteran and former member of the KBA ethics committee. He received his JD from the University of Louisville Law School.
The governor congratulated state budget director John Hicks on his appointment as executive secretary to the cabinet, the governor’s principal appointee. As state budget director, Hicks has helped the governor navigate fiscal challenges posed by the pandemic and helps lead efforts to distribute billions of dollars in federal aid. Through strong budget management, the Governor’s administration created the best budget in 20 years. Kentucky posted an all-time record budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and entered 2022 about $1.9 billion higher than expected. Just this week, Hicks announced that April’s General Fund revenue of $1.84 billion is the highest monthly amount on record. Receipts increased by 34.9% compared to collections last April, which brings the growth rate since the beginning of the year to 16.4%.
“John has been an invaluable member of my administration, and I am pleased to have him step into this new role,” Governor Beshear said. “John’s skills and expertise are vast and his consistent and experienced leadership as Executive Secretary to the Cabinet will only help us continue to build a better and stronger Kentucky for all of our families.”
“I am honored and delighted to serve the Governor in this new role. I have been involved in Kentucky state government for most of my 38 year career. I dealt with every Kentucky state government agency in one form or another during that time,” Hicks said. “Kentucky was a leader when it established the cabinet structure of government nearly 50 years ago. It worked well. I look forward to assisting the Governor with the interagency collaboration necessary for the effective and efficient delivery of services to Kentuckians. Governor Beshear expects a high level of performance from our state government, and I pledge to support that aspiration.
The Governor also thanked Secretary Larry Hayes for his more than 20 years of service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which spans more than four decades.
As part of Governor Beshear’s administration, Secretary Hayes helped the Commonwealth break all economic development records on the books in 2021. And in September 2021, Governor Beshear and the leaders of Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated the largest economic development project in the state. history: a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. Economic momentum has continued strongly through 2022, and last month the Governor was joined by Envision AESC management in announcing a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements cement Kentucky as a national leader in electric vehicle battery production. Under Beshear’s administration to date, private sector companies have announced more than 600 new location and expansion projects totaling more than $17 billion in new investment and more than 32,000 jobs.
“Larry has been at the forefront of some of the most significant economic development projects in Commonwealth history, from Toyota in the 1980s to recent record-breaking announcements by Ford and Envision AESC, which make us the capital of electric vehicle battery production in the United States of America,” Governor Beshear said. “Larry has always worked behind the scenes to move Kentucky forward — and the Commonwealth is a better place to live, work and doing business through his work. We wish him the best as he makes time to spend time with his family and grandchildren.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Kentucky and to see firsthand the tremendous growth of our state. Thanks to Governor Beshear’s leadership, Kentucky is better positioned now for the future than at any time since I have been involved in state government,” said Secretary Hayes. “The Commonwealth is poised not only to be a player in tomorrow’s economy, but also to lead the way as a destination for business-focused businesses. on growth that seek to create quality job opportunities. With the Governor’s vision and the experience and expertise Jeff Noel will bring to the firm, I know they will continue to build on the incredible momentum we have built. The future is brighter than ever in Kentucky.
Jeff Noel is vice president of communications and public affairs at Whirlpool Corporation, where he is responsible for global external and internal communications, government relations, public affairs and corporate travel. Noel also served as chairman of the Whirlpool Foundation, which includes overseeing the company’s 20-year relationship with Habitat for Humanity, which has impacted more than 200,000 families.
Noel was vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) under the governors. Jennifer Granholm, Rick Snyder and Gretchen Whitmer and President of the Michigan Economic Development Foundation. Last year, he served as interim president and CEO of MEDC.
Prior to joining Whirlpool, Noel served for 11 years as President of Cornerstone Alliance, a Benton Harbor-based economic development group. He has also held several executive director positions with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, served as director of government affairs for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and was state executive assistant and legislative aide to U.S. Senator Wendell Ford.
“We are once again proving that Kentucky is the destination as we welcome Jeff home to the Bluegrass,” Governor Beshear said. “Jeff has both economic development experience in the Kentucky state government, as well as leadership skills he acquired in a multinational manufacturing company. We are thrilled to have Jeff join the Kentucky team.
“My roots in the Commonwealth run deep, and having previously worked in the Cabinet for Economic Development, it is a pleasure to have the privilege of following in the footsteps of Larry Hayes and working for a Governor with such great vision for a brighter future for all Kentuckians,” Noel said. “I look forward to seeing all of Kentucky’s beautiful communities again and building on what I’ve learned working for a global leader in the major appliance industry. to continue to build on the foundation of success that Governor, Larry Hayes and the entire Kentucky team have built. Every Kentuckian deserves access to a great job, in a great community with a safe, affordable home, and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is a key catalyst in helping our state achieve that and more.