“A Lifetime of Service”
Growing up in rural Indiana impressed upon Kent the basic values of honesty, hard work, and determination. As part of a graduating class of 46 students in Redkey, Indiana, Kent played basketball and baseball in high school. He worked bailing hay for local farmers and stocking shelves at a local grocery store.
West Point & Early Military Service
These principles were reinforced when he was selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he internalized the Academy’s motto – “Duty, Honor, Country”. Following graduation, he served nearly seven years on active military duty, including tours in Korea and with the 82nd Airborne Division. At graduation from Army airborne school, his father pinned on the “jump” wings he had earned as a paratrooper during World War II. Kent also completed Army Ranger training and later Army flight school, becoming an Army aviator.
Beginning in 1986, Kent then spent over 15 years in the private sector, as a corporate banker and business consultant, in New York City and Indiana, where he gained a comprehensive knowledge of the factors which drive successful business and economic growth. As Vice President at two Indiana banks, he managed all aspects of the banking relationships of business clients in a broad range of industries. He later founded a sole-proprietor consulting business providing strategic planning and management advice for companies.
A Return to Service
Throughout this period, he remained active in the Army Reserve and National Guard, serving as commander at the company, battalion, and brigade levels. With Americans defending freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2003, Kent volunteered to return to active duty in the United States Army, serving in leadership positions at the Pentagon and in Baghdad, Iraq. At the Pentagon, he served as a Crisis Action Team Chief, leading a team responsible for preparing detailed assessments and recommendations on military capabilities, force options, and priorities, for use by senior military leadership, other federal agencies, Congress and the White House. He also served as Director of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Washington Liaison office where he worked with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies, and foreign embassies representing the headquarters overseeing all military operations in 20 Middle-Eastern countries. While in Iraq, he served as Chief of Staff of the Iraq Assistance Group (IAG), the administrative headquarters for US teams training Iraqi security forces, acting as the key link between US, Iraqi and other foreign militaries, ministries, government and non-government agencies.
Kent retired from the Army Reserve as a Colonel. His military awards and decorations include the Senior Army Aviator badge, Parachutist badge, Ranger tab, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star medal, and Iraq Campaign medal.
Kent returned to Indiana in 2010, joining the administration of Governor Mitch Daniels as Chief of Staff of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, where he observed first-hand the effects of overreach and over-regulation by federal agencies and also learned the importance of fiscal responsibility as part of an administration that generated a $2.1 billion budget surplus and the state’s first AAA credit rating.
He remained in that role in the administration of Governor Mike Pence until February 2015, when he was appointed by Governor Pence as the 25th Commissioner of Motor Vehicles (BMV). While BMV Commissioner, he instituted transformational change within the agency and oversaw bi-partisan passage of landmark legislative reform which simplified and streamlined the Indiana motor vehicle code, leading the Agency to a 96.3% customer (= citizen) satisfaction rating. As Commissioner, he was a voting member of the Indiana Counter Terrorism and Security Council. Kent was also selected by his peers to serve on the International Board of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
Most recently, Kent served as Executive Director of a temporary, bi-partisan national commission created by Congress to review the military selective service system and to consider methods to increase citizen participation in military, national, and public service to address national security and other public service needs.
Kent and his wife Karen, a pediatric critical care nurse, have been married for 39 years. Together, they have three sons, three daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Kent earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy (West Point), a Masters of Management from Oakland City University, and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.