Gov.-elect Bevin appoints former rival for GOP nomination to top Education and Workforce Development Cabinet post; other appointments announced

12/04/2015 12:02 PM

Once his foe in a four-way Republican primary for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin has named Louisville real estate developer Hal Heiner the next secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Bevin’s transition team announced in a news release Friday.

The incoming administration also announced that Tom Stephens, a Lexington attorney, and Steve Knipper, who unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state, will serve as Personnel Cabinet secretary and Lt. Gov.-elect Jenean Hampton’s chief of staff, respectively.

Heiner, who finished third in the May 19 primary election, has long advocated for the use of charter schools to boost the state’s educational performance, founding groups like the Kentucky Charter School Association and Kentuckians Advocating for Reform in Education to push the cause in Frankfort.

He and Bevin both campaigned on enacting charter schools and scrapping the state’s Common Core-based educational assessment standards. Kentucky was the first state to adopt Common Core State Standards in 2010, implementing those in crafting the Kentucky Academic Standards, according to the state Department of Education’s website.

“Modernizing our education system is essential to the future success of our Commonwealth,” Bevin said in a statement. “Hal has the proven experience and commitment to ensure that we make meaningful progress for students at all levels.”

Heiner, who founded Louisville-based Capstone Realty in 1997, also serves on the Metro Leadership Foundation Board, a group he helped found that’s focused on after-school education for elementary school students, according to a news release.

The Republican held a seat on the Louisville Metro Council from 2002 until his 2010 defeat in the Louisville mayoral race to current Mayor Greg Fischer. He’s also head of the transportation arm of Bevin’s transition team.

“Kentucky’s most important responsibility is to recognize the gifts, abilities and promise of each of its citizens and then develop educational options assisting them in achieving their most fulfilled life,” Heiner said in a statement.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work towards improvement of those options and broadening their availability. I look forward to the day that every Kentuckian has the specialized educational options available in so many other states.”

Other appointments

Stephens, who served as personnel director for Bevin’s transition team and general counsel for the Personnel Cabinet under Gov. Ernie Fletcher, was named to the top personnel post in a separate news release Friday.

“I am honored by the opportunity to join the Bevin Administration,” said Stephens. “We will be running an honest, open system focused on providing the best service to our stakeholders: employees, applicants, agencies, and insureds.”

He formerly served as corporate counsel for Alltech and a member of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance board, according to the release.

“From his extensive knowledge of the cabinet to his entrepreneurial approach to business, Tom has all of the right credentials to manage Personnel with transparency and excellence,” Bevin said in a statement.

Knipper, who lost to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes by about 2 percent, said in a statement he’s “honored” to lead Hampton’s staff.

“I believe strongly in the vision she has for Kentucky and I look forward to helping her implement those ideas,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be a Kentuckian. I’m confident we have many brighter days ahead.”

Knipper served a term on the Erlanger City Council from 2010 through 2012 and formerly worked as a project manager for Catholic Health Initiatives and in information technology.

“I am excited to have Steve Knipper on our team,” Hampton said in a statemetn. “His knowledge of the state and his commitment to public service make him an excellent leader for this role.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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