Gabe Faimon | Reporter
BURLINGAME—Former Kansas Secretary of State and Osage
County and Burlingame native son, Ron Thornburgh, will be honored
April 17, in Burlingame, for his service to citizens of Kansas.
A recognition dinner for Thornburgh will be held Saturday, April
17 at the Masonic Building, 106 E. Fremont, Burlingame. A reception
will begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 6 p.m. An address
by the former secretary will follow.
The dinner is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased
at Godderz Law Office, in Burlingame, or by contacting Shari
Weber at (785) 366-0104 or (785) 828-3859.
Thornburgh was the 29th Kansas Secretary of State, elected to
his first four-year term in 1994 and re-elected in 1998, 2002
and 2006. He resigned from his office Feb. 15 to take a job
in the private sector.
Under his guidance, the secretary’s office played a vital
role in making state government more accessible to all Kansas
citizens. During his tenure, he demonstrated significant leadership
and management skills that generated higher voter turnout and
created more opportunities for public access to and use of government
through digital electronic systems.
Following graduation from Burlingame High School, Thornburgh
went to Washburn University.
Tuesday, reflecting on the beginning of his career in Kansas
government as a clerk in the office of then-Secretary of State
Jack Brier, he said, “I was just a sophomore in college,
looking for a way to pay bills.”
He graduated from Washburn University in 1985 with a degree
in criminal justice. He also played basketball for the Ichabods.
“Two great mentors, Jack Brier and Bill Graves, piqued
my interest in public service,” Thornburgh said.
In 1992, then-Secretary of State Bill Graves appointed Thornburgh
as assistant secretary of state.
After Graves announced that he was going to seek the office
of governor, Thornburgh determined, “It was time for me
to chart my own course.”
He chose to seek the office that Graves was vacating.
“I started my campaign with the support of my mentors,
a lot of excitement and no money,” he said.
Thornburgh received the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2002 Digital Government Agent of Change Award for leading Kansas
to national prominence in electronic government.
When asked about the most fulfilling aspect of his public service
career, he said, “Figuring out how to electronically link
identity of an individual with a signature.”
During his public service career, Thornburgh received numerous
additional awards for service to the state, including The Mike
Harder Public Administrator of the Year Award in 2006 from the
American Society for Public Administration, Kansas Chapter.
He also was awarded the 2005 Cable’s Leaders in Learning
Award in policy making for increasing voter turnout among 18
to 24-year-olds through the Kids Voting Kansas Program. In February
2004, he was awarded the Lee Ann Elliott Election Excellence
award by Kids Voting USA, which promoted the importance of democracy
in action to Kansas youth. Kids Voting Kansas was recognized
as the largest organization in the nation that promoted youth
democracy in action. Thornburgh is also a graduate of Leadership
Kansas, becoming the May 2005 recipient of the Jim Edwards Leadership
Kansas Alumnus of the Year Award. In 2006, he was chosen to
be a part of the Aspen Institute’s Aspen-Rodel Fellowship
in Public Service.
Thornburgh joined NIC in February as the senior vice president
of sales and marketing. The Olathe-based company is a provider
of government portals, online services and secure government
payment processing solutions.
Thornburgh and his wife, Annette, have two sons, Grey and Tanner.
In March, Governor Mark Parkinson appointed Chris Biggs, former
securities commissioner and Geary County prosecutor, to fill