A familiar face will take over as the new director of the Idaho Department of Commerce.
On Thursday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter appointed Megan Ronk, who has worked at the department for four years under outgoing Director Jeff Sayer. Sayer is leaving to start a business consultancy after four years as director. Ronk, 36, takes over Friday. She’s the first woman ever appointed to the head of the department.
Ronk joined Commerce as public information officer in 2011. She was later promoted to chief operating officer as part of a department reorganization under Sayer when the staff dropped from 50 employees to 40.
Previously, Ronk was executive director of the Idaho Meth Project, a nonprofit founded and chaired by Otter’s wife, Lori.
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Otter said Ronk was a key player in economic developments in recent years.
“I’m especially proud of the strong partnerships that Megan has helped build with businesses and local economic development leaders throughout our state,” Otter said in a release. “She is the right person to ensure that we continue to accelerate Idaho.”
Ronk said her experience at Commerce will help her. However, with the 2016 legislative session looming, Ronk said Commerce is unlikely to propose any major bills, such as the Tax Reimbursement Incentive program Sayer successfully lobbied for in 2014.
Ronk’s husband, Jayson Ronk, is director of state government affairs for Micron. He was Otter’s campaign manager during the 2014 election and is a former vice president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, one of the state’s most influential lobbying organizations. He’s also a former executive director of the Idaho GOP.
“Over the last 15 years of my career, I’ve accomplished things both educationally and professionally that make me highly qualified for this position, regardless of who I’m married to and regardless of previous professional connections,” Ronk said.
Before joining the Idaho Meth Project, Ronk worked as a strategic projects manager for Blue Cross of Idaho and as a policy adviser to former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. She also has been an adjunct faculty member teaching microeconomics at the College of Western Idaho since 2010 and a member of the Idaho Human Rights Commission since 2008.
The Ronks live in Meridian with their two children.