By Sean Murphy
OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin appointed two new officials to her 13-member cabinet on Tuesday and restructured the posts to add a tourism position and consolidate two others.
Fallin named Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education Director Robert Sommers to the newly created cabinet position of Secretary of Education and Workforce Development. Sommers replaces former Secretary of Education Phyllis Hudecki in the position that now includes an additional focus on the development of the state's workforce.
"I have asked Dr. Sommers to focus his expertise on policies that will give students, including adult students, the skills they need to find and keep the high-skill, high-paying jobs that are increasingly coming to Oklahoma," Fallin said in a statement.
A longtime education official in Ohio who recently served as Ohio Gov. John Kasich's education policy adviser, Sommers was named the seventh state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in April.
The governor also appointed the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department's Executive Director Deby Snodgrass, a longtime Fallin ally, to the new position of Secretary of Tourism.
"Travel and tourism dollars generate over a billion dollars in annual revenue for Oklahoma's state and local governments and help to support almost 80,000 jobs," Fallin said. "As a cabinet secretary, she will ensure that the tourism industry continues to be well-represented in the highest levels of the executive branch."
Before being tapped to head the Tourism Department, Snodgrass served as senior director of public affairs at Chesapeake Energy and was a founding partner of the public policy and research firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates.
Snodgrass served as chairwoman of Fallin's inaugural committee and previously served as executive director of the inaugurations of former Gov. Frank Keating.
Fallin also announced she was consolidating the positions of finance and information technology into one cabinet post that will be filled by current Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger. Former Secretary of Information Alex Pettit will continue to serve within the Office of Management and Enterprise Services as the state's chief information officer.
Fallin previously had combined the positions of energy and environment into one post, which she still has 30 days to fill.
Former Secretary of the Environment Gary Sherrer announced his resignation last month after Fallin said she planned to consolidate the two posts, saying at the time he didn't he believe he had the expertise to handle both roles.
Members of Fallin's cabinet do not receive any additional compensation beyond their state employee salaries.