Assistant Secretary of State - Lindsay Hughes Thurston
Assistant Secretary of State Lindsay Hughes Thurston is the office’s chief operating officer. She will represent the Secretary in all official capacities and act on Secretary Grimes’ behalf at her direction or in her absence. Thurston also will manage the office and provide policy analysis for the Secretary.
Previously, Thurston served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Kentucky, where she prosecuted, among other things, child exploitation offenses under the United States Department of Justice’s initiative Project Safe Childhood. Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s office, Thurston was an Assistant Fayette County Attorney. Thurston obtained her Bachelor of Arts in political science, graduating cum laude, from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Director of Communications - Lynn Sowards Zellen
Lynn Sowards Zellen, the Secretary’s Director of Communications, coordinates all internal and external communications, responds to media inquiries, and serves as a spokesperson and media contact for the Secretary. Zellen also devotes attention to legislative initiatives related to the Secretary of State’s office.
Prior to joining Secretary Grimes’ administration, Zellen worked as a business litigation attorney, advocating for clients before courts across the Commonwealth, including the Kentucky Supreme Court. Zellen also has served as a law clerk for two federal judges in Kentucky. Zellen obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English, graduating cum laude, from Centre College in Danville. She earned her law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was selected to the Order of the Coif. Zellen is a native of and currently lives in Lexington.
Director of Administration and Elections - Mary Sue Helm
Mary Sue Helm is the Secretary of State’s Director of Administration and Elections. In her capacity as Director, Helm will manage fiscal and personnel matters, public documents, legal affairs, and special projects and commissions. She will also oversee the divisions responsible for attesting and keeping a register of the official acts of the Governor as well as all candidate filings and certification of the names of candidates to be printed on ballots.
Helm is a 25-year veteran of State government, and she has spent 23 of those years in the Secretary of State’s office. Helm’s history in the Secretary’s office includes serving as the Director of Administration under Secretary Bremer Ehrler and both the Director of Administration and Director of Corporations during Secretary Bob Babbage’s administration. Helm began her tenure as Director of Elections under Secretary Babbage when the position was created in the mid-1990s, and she continued in that capacity under Secretaries John Y. Brown, III, and Trey Grayson. Helm also previously spent four-and-one-half years as the acting Director of the State Board of Elections. Most recently, Helm served as a Special Elections Assistant to the Secretary of State. Originally from Marion County, Helm resides in Lawrenceburg.
Director of Business - Rob Haynes
Rob Haynes is the Secretary of State's Executive Director of Business. Haynes oversees the business office and is responsible for managing the office’s online business services, issuing and authenticating business records, and maintaining UCC finance statements. Haynes also devotes attention to veterans' affairs and legislative initiatives related to and business and non-profit entities.
Haynes has over a decade of experience in public administration, economic development and community relations at both the state and local levels, including in the administrations of Governors Paul Patton and Steve Beshear and the City of Louisville. He has served as the Local Government Advisor and Federal Grant Administrator for the Kentucky Department for Local Government and, most recently, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Governor's Office of Early Childhood. Haynes has a Bachelor of Science in Business Communication from Spalding University in Louisville. He lives in Frankfort and is involved in numerous community organizations, including the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, American Red Cross, Volunteers of America, Habitat for Humanity and community food banks. He is also a member of the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Official Committee.
Executive Director of Kentucky Business One Stop Portal - Noel Caldwell
Noel Caldwell, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Business One Stop Portal, is responsible for overseeing the implementation and management of the Portal and ensuring that the goals of the Portal are accomplished.
Caldwell previously served as Director of Business Filings in Grimes' office, where he assisted in successful campaigns to modernize Kentucky's business laws and oversaw services provided to the business community. Prior to joining Secretary Grimes’ administration, Caldwell practiced law in Lexington. Caldwell earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Georgetown College, where he was a member of the 2000 and 2001 National Champion football teams, and his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Caldwell, a Frankfort native currently living in Lexington, is also an active member of the Markey Cancer Center’s Patient Advisory Group.
Executive Assistant - Valerie Ann Sparks
Vallerie Ann Sparks, the Secretary's Executive Assistant, provides administrative and management support for the office. Prior to joining the Secretary of State's Office, Valerie spent five years working with the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, assisting with legal proceedings and victim communications. Valerie has a Bachelor of Arts from Marshall University and an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies from Keiser College. She lives in Lexington.