Murkowski sees departures, promotions of top staff

IMG_463966578U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski today announced a slew of staff changes. Current and former employees say the timing of the multiple departures is coincidental, but the change begins at the top.

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For those of you keeping score at home, sharpen your pencils: Michael Pawlowski, will take over as Murkowski’s chief of staff. Pawlowski, better known in Alaska as “Fish,” has been working for Murkowski in Washington for a little more than a year.  He is a former Alaska legislative aide and was deputy commissioner of Revenue in the Parnell administration. Current chief of staff, Ed Hild, is leaving after more than 20 years of work in the Senate.

Murkowski is promoting long-time aide Nathan Bergerbest to deputy chief of staff. Also, Garrett Boyle, a relatively new staffer who grew up in rural Alaska, is the new legislative director. Former leg director Kate Williams, originally from Juneau, has gone to work in the office of the Senate Republican whip.

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Robert Dillon, Murkowski’s communications director for the Senate Energy Committee, is also leaving the Senate after seven years.

“It was really hard yesterday, walking out of the office for the last time,” Dillon said, by phone from home. “I’ve said multiple times that it’s not a job. It’s family.”

Dillon says he knows of no shared reason for the staff departures. In his case, he says opportunity called, from the private sector.

“I will be heading up the D.C. office of Strategies 360, a public policy firm based in Seattle, but has offices, of course, in Anchorage and 10 states across the West,” he said.

Dillon, a former reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner and other Alaska publications, says he’ll continue to work on Alaska issues in his new job.

Meanwhile, Karina Petersen has been promoted to communications director of Murkowski’s Senate office. Petersen was raised in Soldotna and is a former KTVA reporter. She replaces Matthew Felling, who left Murkowski’s office last fall and now works for Hill+Knowlton, a communications strategy firm.