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Who serves in Missouri’s executive branch? A look at the 22 positions

  

Missouri’s executive branch is made up of more than 20 officials — some who have been appointed and others elected.

In fact, only six of the 22 positions in the state government’s executive branch are elected positions: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and attorney general. The other 16 positions are appointed by the governor or a commission.

However, since Gov. Mike Parson was elevated to serve as Missouri’s chief executive when the following governor resigned before his term was completed, more members of the executive branch are appointed than normal in the current administration.

Read on for a look at who serves in Missouri’s executive branch.

Elected officials

Mike Parson, governor

Mike Parson is sworn in by Supreme Court Judge Mary Russell as Missouri’s 57th governor. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/ALISHA SHURR)

Gov. Mike Parson took over as Missouri’s leader in June 2018 following the resignation of his predecessor. An Army veteran and third-generation farmer, Parson served in public policy for decades before becoming governor, from state representative to state senator to lieutenant governor. He was elected to the position in November 2020. 

Assumed office: June 2018; by ascension
Prior job: Lieutenant governor


Mike Kehoe, lieutenant governor

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe launched his campaign for a full term in the executive office at Jefferson City Memorial Park on Sept. 23, 2019. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/ALISHA SHURR)

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe succeeded Gov. Mike Parson as second-in-command of Missouri in June 2018. Previously, he served as a state senator where he held a variety of leadership positions — from majority floor leader to chairing committees. He has a beef cattle business on his family farm. He was elected to a full term to the position in November 2020. 

Assumed office: June 2018; by appointment
Prior job: State senator


Jay Ashcroft, secretary of state

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft testifies on legislation presented before a House committee. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

Prior to becoming Missouri’s 40th secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft worked as an engineer before he taught others in the field. Ashcroft, who was born in Missouri’s capital city, later attended law school and practiced for several years in St. Louis County. He was re-elected as Missouri’s secretary of state in November 2020. 

Assumed office: January 2017; by election
Prior job: Lawyer, engineer teacher


Nicole Galloway, state auditor

State Auditor Nicole Galloway details the findings of her Single Statewide Audit in April 2017. (THE MISSOURI TIMES)

A certified public accountant and fraud examiner, longtime state Auditor Nicole Galloway has worked in both the public and private sector. She holds multiple degrees from the University of Missouri and Missouri University of Science and Technology. In June 2021, Galloway announced she would not seek re-election to the position in 2022. 

Assumed office: April 2015; by appointment and later election
Prior job: Treasurer of Boone County


Scott Fitzpatrick, state treasurer

Fitzpatrick
Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick speaks during a press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. (OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR)

Before he became the state’s treasurer, Scott Fitzpatrick served in the Missouri House and chaired the House Budget Committee for two years. He started his own marine construction and manufacturing company when he was just 17 years old. He was re-elected as Missouri’s treasurer in November 2020. 

Assumed office: January 2019; by appointment
Prior job: State representative


Eric Schmitt, attorney general

Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks during a press conference after the governor called on him to help prosecute St. Louis homicides. (OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR)

Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s family has been rooted in Missouri for generations. Aside from his tenure in the executive branch, Schmitt has served in the state Senate and as an alderman. He credits his son, Stephen, for his catalyst for going into public service. Schmitt was handily re-elected in November 2020. 

Assumed office: January 2019; by appointment
Prior job: State treasurer


Appointed officials

Ken Zellers, Office of Administration acting commissioner

Ken Zellers took over as the acting commissioner of the Office of Administration in October 2021 after being appointed to the position by Gov. Mike Parson. He previously served as both director and acting director at the Department of Revenue for several years before moving agencies. Throughout his career, Zellers has held numerous positions with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Assumed office: October 2021
Appointed by: Gov. Mike Parson
Prior job: Department of Revenue director


Chris Chinn, Department of Agriculture director

Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn has served with a plethora of agriculture-related groups, from the Missouri State Fair Commission to the Missouri Wine & Grape Board to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to the Missouri Pork Association. She has a family farm with a sow farrow-to-finish hog operation and feed mill. She also has a small cow-calf herd and raises corn, hay, and soybeans

Assumed office: January 2017
Appointed by: Gov. Eric Greitens


Sara Parker Pauley, Department of Conservation director

Sara Parker Pauley serves as the ninth director of Missouri’s Department of Conservation — and this isn’t the first time she’s worked for the department. She first worked for the Conservation Department in the early 1990s as a policy analyst. Additionally, Pauley has taught at the University of Missouri’s School of Natural Resources and worked as a project manager for a natural resources communications firm.

Assumed office: November 2016
Appointed by: Missouri Conservation Commission
Prior job: Missouri Department of Natural Resources director


Anne Precythe, Department of Corrections director

Director Anne Precythe is only the second woman to head the Department of Corrections. Previously, Precythe served in a variety of capacities for the North Carolina Division of Community Corrections, including overseeing an evidence-based practices project and serving as the Supervision Services administrator. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also appointed her to the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board, and she was reappointed to it in 2020 by William Barr. 

Assumed office: February 2017
Appointed by: Gov. Eric Greitens
Prior job: North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Division of Community Corrections director


Rob Dixon, Department of Economic Development director

Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon has served in the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and led the largest higher education association in the state. Dixon is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who has served in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Assumed office: January 2018
Appointed by: Gov. Eric Greitens
Prior job: President and CEO of the Missouri Community College Association


Margie Vandeven, Department of Elementary & Secondary Education commissioner

Commissioner Margie Vandeven is at the helm of the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education — for the second time.  She previously led the department for three years, from 2014 to 2017. Vandeven is a former high school English teacher and administrator in both Maryland and Missouri and has served with the Missouri School Improvement Program and in the Office of Quality Schools.

Assumed office: January 2019 (second time)
Appointed by: Missouri Board of Education
Prior job: Director of educational partnerships for the SAS Institute in North Carolina


Donald Kauerauf, Department of Health & Senior Services director

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Donald Kauerauf had a lengthy tenure with the Illinois health department before taking the role in the Show-Me State in September 2021. He most recently chaired the Illinois Terrorism Task Force under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency after working for Western Illinois University as the public health and safety intelligence officer.

Assumed Office: September 2021
Appointed by: Gov. Mike Parson
Prior job: Chair of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force


Zora Mulligan, Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development commissioner

Prior to leading the Department of Higher Education as its commissioner, Zora Mulligan worked for the department as an assistant commissioner, general counsel, and legislative liaison. She is also the former executive director of the Missouri Community College Association.

Assumed office: August 2016
Appointed by: Coordinating Board for Higher Education
Prior job: University of Missouri System chief of staff


Chlora Lindley-Myers, Department of Commerce and Insurance

Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance Director Chlora Lindley-Myers has served in a variety of positions in Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. She’s also served as the director of the Consumer Protection and Anti-Fraud Division for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (The department was called the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration when she was first appointed to it.)

Assumed office: April 2017
Appointed by: Gov. Eric Greitens
Prior job: Tennessee Department of Commerce deputy commissioner


Anna Hui, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Anna Hui is the first Asian American to serve in the Missouri Cabinet in state history. Not only has she worked in Illinois’ Department of Labor, but Hui also served as the associate deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Labor during former President George W. Bush’s administration. Additionally, Hui is the former chief of staff to Elaine Chao, the former U.S. secretary of transportation.

Assumed office: January 2018
Appointed by: Gov. Eric Greitens
Prior job: Acting director of the Illinois Department of Labor


Mark Stringer, Department of Mental Health director

The Missouri Mental Health Commission tapped Mark Stringer to lead the Department of Mental Health during Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration. In announcing his appointment, Nixon praised Stringer for “placing new law enforcement liaisons at each of our community mental health centers [and] expanding access to Mental Health First Aid training.” A national leader in the mental health field, Stringer is the former president of the National Association of State and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors and recently testified before Congress about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted substance use.

Assumed office: July 2015
Appointed by: Missouri Mental Health Commission
Prior job: Division of Behavioral Health director


Dru Buntin, Department of Natural Resources director

Dru Buntin served as a deputy director of the department from 2009-2012 and again in 2017. He took over as acting director of the Department of Natural Resources in June 2021 following the death of Director Carol Comer. He was named to the position officially in August 2021. He is the former executive director of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association where he served for four years.

Assumed office: August 2021
Appointed by: Mike Parson
Prior job: Department of Natural Resources deputy director


Sandy Karsten, Department of Public Safety director

Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten has shattered glass ceilings; she is the first woman to lead the Public Safety Department and was the first female superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. She was first appointed to the Patrol in 1985.

Assumed office: September 2018
Appointed by: Gov. Mike Parson
Prior job: Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent


Joseph Plaggenberg, Department of Revenue acting director

Joseph Plaggenberg, who has served as the Revenue Department’s general counsel, took over for Ken Zellers who moved to the Office of Administration in October 2021. Plaggenberg joined the department as general counsel on Aug. 1 after serving as administrator of the Driver License Bureau, legislative coordinator, division general counsel, and the Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Division director.

Assumed office: October 2021
Appointed by: Gov. Mike Parson
Prior job: Department of Revenue general counsel


Jennifer Tidball, Department of Social Services acting director

Jennifer Tidball was the deputy director of the Missouri Department of Social Services before she was tapped to take over as its acting director in mid-May following the resignation of Steve Corsi — and this isn’t the first time she’s served as the department’s acting director. She previously led the department for six months in 2017. Additionally, Tidball has worked as the interim MO HealthNet division director.

Assumed office: May 2019
Appointed by: Gov. Mike Parson
Prior job: Department of Social Services deputy director


Patrick McKenna, Department of Transportation director

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna spent several years working on the East Coast before coming to the Show-Me State. He served as the deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and worked for more than a decade in the U.S. Senate.

Assumed office: December 2015
Appointed by: Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission
Prior job: New Hampshire Department of Transportation deputy commissioner


This story has been updated. It was originally published in October 2019.