Murkowski has nearly a dozen new staffers - Must Read Alaska
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Murkowski has nearly a dozen new staffers

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski has a host of new staff members, she has announced. They are:

Kate Williams Sterne returns to the office as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel. Kate graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. Kate has ample Capitol Hill experience, having previously served as Legislative Director for Senator Ted Stevens, Oil and Gas Counsel for the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Senator Murkowski, and Counsel for Majority Whip Senator John Cornyn. Kate has also served in a number of roles in Alaska including as an Associate Attorney, Legal and Regulatory Affairs Manager for the Alaska Oil & Gas Association, Business Manager for a leading commercial construction company, and most recently Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alaska. She is from Juneau.

Aaron Thiele joined the office in January as a Legislative Assistant handling Energy and Natural Resource issues. Aaron previously served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of the Interior, where he worked on issues pertaining to United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Prior to joining the Department of Interior, Aaron previously worked in the House of Representatives and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Chris Griffin joins the office as a Legislative Aide assisting with a portfolio of energy issues, including the Department of Energy, renewable energy, climate change, energy efficiency, and nuclear energy. In January, Chris joined Senator Murkowski’s personal staff from previously serving as a member of her U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff, where he was also a Legislative Aide working on public lands and natural resource issues. Chris graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University. He is from Anchorage.

Jamie O’Connor joined the office several months ago as a Legislative Assistant for fisheries, oceans, and sciences. She is a fifth generation Alaskan and salmon fisherman from Bristol Bay, Alaska where she set nets with her family each summer. Jamie graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Communication. This is a return to Capitol Hill for O’Connor, who previously served in the office of Senator Dan Sullivan in 2015-2016 as Senior Staff Assistant and Internship Coordinator. Prior to joining Senator Murkowski’s staff, JO’Connor served as the Working Waterfronts Director for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) out of Homer, Alaska as well as serving on the Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Her fisheries experience also includes the AMCC Young Fishing Fellowship with the North Pacific Fisheries Association and contract fisheries communications work.

Maya Becker joins the office as the 2021 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. Becker earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, both in earth sciences. Becker is currently a PhD candidate at Scripps Oceanography, and her dissertation research is centered on ice–ocean interactions on Antarctica’s largest floating ice shelves. During her graduate studies, she spent time in McCarthy, Alaska, for a glaciology course organized by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Abigail Hemenway recently joined the office as a Legislative Correspondent. Previously, she served as a Staff Assistant for the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Hemenway holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Miami Florida. She was born and raised in Juneau.

Brian Dusek joins the office as Deputy Press Secretary. Dusek graduated from Colorado State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. Prior to serving on Senator Murkowski’s staff, Dusek was an intern for the CBS News communications team, an intern in Senator Dan Sullivan’s office in the summer of 2019, and an intern in Senator Murkowski’s office in 2017. Dusek was born and raised in Soldotna.

Joining Senator Murkowski’s Anchorage office:

Cordelia Kellie joins the office as Special Assistant for Rural Affairs. Cordelia Qiġñaaq Kellie is Iñupiaq, and comes from the Tagarook and James families from Wainwright on the North Slope. Her career has included communications and external affairs, tribal education, rural community development, legislative affairs on the state and federal levels, language and cultural instruction, and building regional and statewide rural and Alaska Native relationships through grassroots community organizing. Kellie received her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Rhetoric and a minor in Communications from UAA. She is a 2021 NANA Richard A. Baenen Award winner for outstanding service to the Northwest Arctic. For her work in language revitalization and community building, she has also received the 2020 AFN Eileen Panigeo Maclean President’s Award for Education and was 2020 Olgoonik Corporation Shareholder of the Year. Her board service has included the Alaska State Council on the Arts, appointed by former Governor Walker; Alaska Humanities Forum as Board Secretary, Get Out the Native Vote, and the Anchorage Symphony, and is an Advisory Group Alternate for the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages for the Arctic Region. She was born in Anchorage, raised in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, has lived in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Utqiaġvik.

Hannah Ray is relocating to the Anchorage office after being promoted to Deputy Communications Director. Hannah has served in Senator Murkowski’s D.C. office as Press Secretary since 2017. Hannah has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Public Relations from the University of Central Arkansas Honor College. Prior to working in Senator Murkowski’s office, Ray served as the Community Events Manager for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Anchorage. During her tenure at ACS, she worked in communities across the state to help manage events and develop patient services for cancer patients in rural Alaska.

Leann Sommer joins the office as the Alaska State Scheduler. Leann is Athabascan and of the Louden Tribe. Leann holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration: Tourism and Hospitality Management from Fort Lewis College. She has been working in the tourism industry in Alaska throughout the last decade. Most recently Leann was the Director of Sales at the Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown and received two awards during her time there: The 2020 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Native American 40 Under 40 and the Alaska Hotel and Lodging Association 2019 Sales Manager of the Year. Previously, she was an Associate Consultant at OSIYO Communications, LLC. working with Indian Country. Sommer is from Galena.

Hannah McCue joins the office as a Staff Assistant. Hannah recently graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, specializing in Conservation, Resources, and Sustainability with a minor in Chemistry. McCue previously interned in Senator Murkowski’s Anchorage office in 2020 and the D.C. office in 2017. Prior to joining the office, McCue volunteered for a sustainability initiative in Oregon focusing on watershed restoration. Her family has lived in Anchorage, Alaska for the past 12years.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Murkowski has certainly added a lot of native assistants to her staff. Something tells me she is in trouble with most of the natives in our state over her handling of the Haaland issue, plus other items not well handled. Seems she is buying votes with her hirings. Surely hope the native comminities are not buying these moves. She is not a conservative and will throw anyone under the bus to get where she wants to go.

    • Nancy and I told Lisa to get as many new people into her office as possible now, so it doesn’t look like her old staff abandoned her at the last minute when Kelly beats her next year.

      • Frankie and I just LOVE MRAK. Here, we learn new things everyday.

  • Well, she clearly thinks we aren’t going to be able to stop the cheating in the next fraudulent election and plans to keep her position.

  • 9 women and 2 men. Revealing.

    • Historically she has shown that she has a problem with strong-minded men.

    • I didn’t give this a nanosecond of thought, but now that you mention it, there would be torches and pitchforks for a male senator to have the reverse ratio. Perhaps sexism is not a sword that cuts both ways?

    • Take a good look of Trump’s cabinet. Revealing.

      Take a good look at Biden’s cabinet. Revealing.

      • Biden’s cabinet is full of full of big Pharma’s latest innovations, just to get him up, out, and through his day. #kindaonagoodday

        • Even at his worst, he’s still infinitely better than The Other Guy.

  • Senator Murkowski always fields incredible staff. Who will take the hydrology questions. Democrats always give short shrift to Alaskan needs. They’ll tell you about it later if you are polite. They maintain a status quo and permanent underclass. They know and we know exactly what they are doing. The last election cycle rolled back the curtains disappointing us all.

  • I smell a traitor, yes you, Lisa. Voted two times to impeach the 45th President. Yup, you do throw people under the bus for your benefit. You don’t work for the betterment for Alaskan’s.
    Let us all hope those who are staffed under her sees right through her as a traitor of this great United States of America, the Republic for which it stands, One Nation under God.

  • Keep those resumes updated, folks!

  • Load up your reelection team at taxpayer expense. No surprise for an entitled princess.

  • I kinda wish people will stop showcasing their racial background on their bio writeups cause your family genetic makeup is not important.

    • No one cares anymore what is anyone’s race is anymore.

  • My condolences, that shouldn’t look good on a resume. At least in a Constitutional Republic, if we can keep it!

  • She’s a loser but will win the next election unfortunately.

  • Alaskans, if you research Kelly Tshibaka I’m sure you will see what I see and a lot of others do also. Kelly is a darling of a lady. Please contact her. I support team Kelly all out and I guarantee we will see results immediately if we give the lady a chance. Lisa ma’am, you know yourself you no longer deserve to be awarded this position. Ma’am we all see what you are up to.

    • I don’t like the princess but kelly has the stink of D.C. on her

    • Kelly looks good on paper, but I am concerned about her years as a DC lobbyist. We were fooled once by Dan Sullivan, we shouldn’t be fooled again

  • Lisa may be called a loser , but my bet she is may win. How? Democrats could run Al Gross who had a huge money chest in the last election. This Ranked choice voting is one way the Democrats could steal the election. This may happen with the Governor’s race also. Calling all Conservatives to vote together.
    Just wait until the Murkowski campaign starts slinging their dirt against Kelly. It will be interesting to say the least.

  • Why the sudden transition, especially after the special infrastructure deal in the Senate? What happened to the Alaskans were her staffers before these new staffers? Has she no loyalty to those that worked for her, or did she feel the need to let them go? Why? Or did they bail because Lisa is showing her true colors as a Liberal?

  • Isn’t that cultural appropriation to be standing in front of native artwork?

  • Question, where does Lisa get the $ to pay all of these people?

    • Follow the money!

  • How nice!
    Plus, all at the new pay scale Nasty Nancy instituted – $200K/year. That’s good work if ya can get it.

  • Political grifters. Money bags Murkowski maybe a bit worried?

  • Criminal , thievery taxpayer waste, corruption. These people will spend 100% of their time campaigning. She is a traitor to Alaska and the Republican Party. DRUM HER OUT!

  • Big Pharma is still looking to produce a “do it all” pill for Biden. Memory, anti-perversion, speech, cognition, awareness, sleep, and truth. His son Hunter seems to have taken on many of Joe Biden’s characteristics. Shacked-up with his dead brother’s wife. Allegations of messing around with his underage neice. Knocking up a prostitute. Binging on crack cocaine. Alcoholism. Severe forgetfulness and disorientation. Do we REALLY know our president’s true background?

    • Yes, Dr. We do. Joe Biden, before he became the counterfeit POTUS, was in politics for over 50 years. Doesn’t that also qualify him for being a POS?

  • Links not allowed, Suzanne?

  • I hope these new staffers didn’t buy a house and are on short-term rentals. Murky will be gone from Washington DC after she loses her next election. Our next senator might want to clean house and find staff that is not loyal to a RINO.

  • Well, when you have all that Dark Money coming in, you can afford more staffers. Kelly Tshibaka for Alaska 2022! Send Murkowski packing!

  • I’m self identifying as an Aleut because: too few do. Also there are historic distinctions having to do with maps that should not be obliterated by current contemporary embraced ignorance.

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