State Labor Commissioner Switches Jobs in Fallin Administration

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston has a new job.

Secretary of Education and Workforce Development for the state.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced her appointment this week making the switch in jobs to be immediate. And it leaves the field wide open for those running to succeed McLawhorn Houston who said she would not seek the four-year term when she was appointed Labor Commissioner 3 years ago.

“The best way we can support our businesses and grow our economy is to produce a more educated workforce. Aligning our education and workforce training programs to provide relevant work skills is the best way to keep job growth strong,” said Fallin. “Commissioner Houston has the skills and knowledge to ensure Oklahoma public education and our business communities cooperate to increase educational attainment in Oklahoma.”

Fallin appointed Houston labor commissioner in the fall of 2015, to fulfill the remainder of then-Labor Commissioner Mark Costello’s term. Before that, Houston served as chief of staff and policy adviser in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office.

“I appreciate Governor Fallin’s confidence in me and the opportunity to further serve our great state,” said Houston. “As a mom of two sons in the public school system, I look forward to learning more about all phases of our education ecosystem and ways to provide Oklahomans great opportunities to learn and pathways for entering the workforce.”

When she was appointed labor commissioner, Houston said she would not seek election to a full four-year term. She is an experienced administrator with extensive knowledge of state government. Before serving as the attorney general’s chief of staff, Houston served for nine years (2002-2011) as the chief of staff for the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security. Prior to that, she served as deputy director for the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association and as an attorney for the Oklahoma Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission. She has a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Houston will also lead Fallin’s Oklahoma Works initiative, a statewide strategic plan, which seeks to align education to the needs of business and industry and to generate wealth-generating career pathways for students.

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