Palin hires budget expert from Juneau

Karen Rehfeld to lead Office of Management and Budget for state

Posted: Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin Friday appointed a highly regarded budget expert to be her director of the Office of Management and Budget, one of the most influential positions in state government.

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Karen Rehfeld of Juneau has been serving as deputy commissioner of the Department of Education & Early Development.

Palin, in a press release late Friday, noted that Rehfeld arrived with a lot of work to do, with a legislative session starting in just days.

"I've asked Karen to place her priorities on how we can reduce spending and create efficiencies," she said.

Former deputy Commissioner of Education Bruce Johnson, now with the Association of Alaska School Boards in Juneau, said Palin had made a good choice.

"She was highly, highly respected by legislators," he said.

Johnson worked alongside Rehfeld when she was director of education support services for the department and said she was a very accurate and precise person who was also able to clearly explain budgets.

Rehfeld comes to the job with a family background in public service. Her father, Bob Ward, served as commissioner of administration for Governor Wally Hickel and commissioner of transportation under Gov. Jay Hammond. Ward was also became secretary of state when Hickel left Alaska to become the U.S. secretary of the interior, a position which has since been renamed lieutenant governor.

In addition to her government service, which spans two decades, Rehfeld also worked for the private accounting firm Elgee & Rehfeld. She is a graduate of the University of Idaho.

• Pat Forgey can be reached at

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