The Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced it has appointed Melissa Underwood as its new communication director.

Underwood is a 2004 graduate of Washburn University, majoring in corporate communication and political science. In 2009, she also earned a Master of Business Administration from Baker University.

“In the past the KBI has had a special agent assigned to public information tasks as a collateral duty. However, inquiries from the press related to our investigations and programs continue to increase,” KBI Director Kirk Thompson said. “This change should allow us to work more closely with our media partners.”

Underwood comes from the Office of U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, where she was special events coordinator. She organized various public events and managed several key programs. Prior to that, Underwood spent four years working as special assistant to the Kansas State Treasurer.

“I am excited to take on this new role,” Underwood said. “As both the wife and daughter of police officers, my connection to the law enforcement community isn’t new. However, I’ll now be able to contribute in a professional capacity to an agency whose focus is making Kansas a safer place, and that is especially rewarding.”

The KBI has nearly 300 employees and is headquartered in Topeka. Additionally, it has offices in Wichita, Great Bend, Lenexa and Pittsburg, and laboratories in Topeka, Great Bend, Kansas City and Pittsburg. Its mission is to provide professional investigative and laboratory services to criminal justice agencies, and to collect and disseminate criminal justice information to public and private agencies for the purpose of promoting public safety and preventing crime in Kansas.