TOPEKA — Wichitan Shala Perez took over as executive director of the Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission this week.
“All Kansans should have their voice heard in government and the opportunity to be involved. I know Shala has the experience, skills and vision to continue the vital mission of the Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, in a written statement announcing the appointment.
Perez has served on the commission’s board since 2007 and succeeds Steve Cisneros. The commission promotes the advancement of Hispanics in Kansas.
The position pays $70,000 a year.
“I know Shala has always been interested in public service and committed to ensuring a role for the Hispanic and Latino communities in Kansas government. I’m looking forward to working with her in this new position,” said Commission Chair Susana Valdovinos.
Perez has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Wichita State University and began her career in law enforcement as a police officer and juvenile corrections official in 1992. She has taught administration of justice at Butler Community College and served as an instructor at the Kansas School for Effective Learning, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping non-traditional students reach their full potential.
In 2008, Perez, a Democrat, ran for state Senate against Sen. Mike Petersen, R-Wichita.
In 2007, she was honored for her human rights work by Church Women United, a racially, culturally and theologically inclusive group recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization. Additionally, Perez has been nominated for the Ethical Courage Award presented annually by the Ethics Center of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration of Dallas, Texas.