Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Thomas O. Zawacki
Secretary Thomas O. Zawacki knows firsthand what Kentucky businesses expect of the workforce. His experience as a business leader comes from more than 33 years in the private sector including 22 years at Toyota, one of Kentucky’s major employers. In fact, he was a member of the American team that brought Toyota to Georgetown in 1987 to open its largest plant outside of Japan.
Zawacki brings that experience to his role as secretary of Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, where he oversees the work of educating, preparing and training Kentucky’s current and future workforce.
He retired as General Manager of General Administration for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing America in June 2009. During his career at Toyota, he was in charge of Purchasing, Community Relations, Government Relations, Corporate Communications, Facilities Engineering, Environmental Engineering, New Model Product Management, Production Scheduling, Corporate Services, Security and Fire Protection and Payroll.
Zawacki also held positions at Nissan Motor Manufacturing in Smyrna, Tennessee and Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan.
Prior to his appointment as secretary of the cabinet in July 2013, he served as Commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Regulation in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. There he was responsible for serving the citizens of the Commonwealth in the areas of Drivers Licensing, Vehicle Licensing, Motor Carriers, Division of Customer Service and the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Zawacki served on the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) from 2009-2013. During that time, the KWIB implemented WorkSmart Kentucky, its strategic plan to transform Kentucky’s workforce development system to better prepare and equip workers and serve employers.
He is a graduate of Leadership Kentucky and has been a member of various boards, including the Japan-America Society of Kentucky. He is past chair of several organizations including the KCTCS Foundation, Inc.; the Board of Regents of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System; the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Center for Quality People and Organizations; Georgetown Community Hospital; and the Lexington-Fayette Urban League.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ferris State University and a master’s degree in procurement management from Webster University.
He and his wife, Debbie, reside in Georgetown. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Education and Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Beth Brinly
Louisville native Beth Brinly was recently appointed Deputy Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet by Governor Steve Beshear. Prior to that appointment, she served as Commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Workforce Investment.
In her role as workforce investment commissioner, Brinly spent four years overseeing the implementation of the Kentucky Career Center re-branding including programs such as WorkReady Communities, Industry Partnerships, High Impact Workforce Investment Boards, Sector Strategies and the Kentucky Skills Network. These workforce strategies have moved Kentucky to a national leadership role in advising on building a world-class talent pipeline.
Brinly has extensive experience with federal programs including the Workforce Investment Act, Wagner -Peyser and the Trade Act. Prior to becoming commissioner, Brinly was chief of the Division of Workforce Investment in the Employment and Training Administration in the regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor in Philadelphia for more than five years.
Brinly also served in the regional office of the U.S. Department of Education for nearly seven years in several positions including education program specialist and staff assistant. Beth brings an array of experience and knowledge to the job.
Before moving to the federal government, Brinly worked for Kentucky state government from 1990–1996 in the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet where she was the executive director of the Office of School-to-Work and an assistant to the cabinet’s secretary. She began her state government career in 1987 in the Governor’s Office where she worked in policy and budget.
Beth earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Louisville in 1986 and a masters of education from Pennsylvania State University in 2004.