Dave Lopez will resign next month as director of the state Commerce Department, but will remain commerce secretary in Gov. Mary Fallin's cabinet.
Fallin appointed Jonna Kirschner, Commerce Department deputy director, to succeed Lopez on Dec. 1, agency spokesman Don Hackler said Friday.
“I want to thank Dave Lopez for his creativity, dedication and leadership as director of the Department of Commerce,” Fallin said in a statement. “He has served as an enthusiastic and effective advocate for the state of Oklahoma as we work to grow our economy and build a more prosperous state. He will be missed in the day-to-day operation of the Commerce Department, but we will continue to rely on his expertise as secretary of commerce in my cabinet.”
Lopez said that handing off the daily responsibilities of running the agency would provide him with more time to promote economic development.
“It's been a valuable and rewarding experience to serve as commerce secretary and to also be the executive director of” the Commerce Department, Lopez said in a statement issued by the agency. “However, the opportunities presented by Oklahoma's strong economy now are better served by having a person for each position.”
Kirschner has served as deputy director and general counsel at the Commerce Department since 2003. She managed the legal division, including the Quality Jobs Program and directed the operations of the Business Customer Services Division, the Public Information Office, the Regional Development Specialists and the Oklahoma Main Street Program.
“Secretary Lopez has been an extraordinary leader and advocate for Oklahoma, and my challenge will be to pick up where he left off and continue to build the state's forward momentum,” Kirschner said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with him and with Governor Fallin to grow our economy and to both retain and create new jobs in Oklahoma.”