Sullivan announces Balash as COS and other hires

Yesterday, I wrote that former DNR commissioner Joe Balash had been selected as Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan’s chief of staff and an official announcement would be made this week. Today, a spokesperson for Sullivan confirmed Balash’s position. It was also announced that DeLynn Henry and Mike Anderson would be joining the senator’s staff. Henry will serve as Sullivan’s director of scheduling, a position she held in former Sen. Ted Stevens’ office.  Anderson, the Sullivan campaign’s press secretary and former spokesperson for Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, will serve in the same capacity in Sullivan’s office.

While it has not yet been announced, Kathlene Rowell, who worked for Sullivan at DNR and who was the first employee of his campaign, will be joining his staff and will work out of his Anchorage office.

Sullivan and Balash are in D.C. this week and will be interviewing potential staffers with particular emphasis on identifying and hiring a legislative director for his office.

Here’s the release from Sullivan announcing the hires:

Senator-elect Dan Sullivan today announced three key hires for his U.S. Senate office in Washington, DC.  Joe Balash will serve as chief of staff, DeLynn Henry as director of scheduling; and Mike Anderson as press secretary.

“I am excited that Joe, DeLynn and Mike will be joining my Washington, DC team,” Sullivan said.  “Given their extensive experience and deep understanding of Alaska issues, they are well-positioned to begin serving Alaskans with distinction on day one.”

Joe Balash most recently served as Alaska’s Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where he was responsible for one of the largest portfolios of oil, gas, minerals, renewable energy, timber, land, and water in the world.  A graduate of Pacific University, he previously served as Deputy DNR Commissioner from 2010-2013 during Sullivan’s tenure as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.  Balash has also worked for the Alaska State Legislature, including as chief of staff to the Senate President, and was a key adviser to two governors.

“I look forward to working alongside Joe once again,” said Sullivan.  “His wealth of knowledge, and passion for Alaska cannot be understated, and his advice and counsel will be invaluable as we begin to advance Alaska and America’s interests in the U.S. Senate.”

DeLynn Henry joins Senator-elect Sullivan’s office after most recently serving as chief of staff at an international public affairs firm. Henry returns to the Senate with decades of experience. She served as scheduler and assistant to the late Senator Ted Stevens for twenty three years.  She has also worked for Northrop Grumman, and been involved with several nonprofits, including the Ted Stevens Foundation.

Mike Anderson, who most recently served as communications director on Sullivan’s Senate campaign, will continue his role as spokesman and principal media contact.  A graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Anderson has played similar roles in both houses of Congress. He previously served as press secretary for Congressman Don Young and for Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Additional hires will be announced in the coming weeks.  Senator-elect Sullivan will be sworn in to office on January 6, 2015 to begin his six year term.



10 thoughts on “Sullivan announces Balash as COS and other hires

  1. Billiam

    Yawn. Balash will be back in 2 years when he figures out he’s a super tiny fish in a very smart, very competitive pond. Dan should have picked someone who knows how to work the DC system.

  2. Anonymous

    I voted for Dan Sullivan and now I want it back.

    Dan Sullivan was a great DNR Commissioner that actually got things done. Joe Balash is the poster child for why I voted against Parnell……. he surrounded himself with horrible people.

  3. All I Saw

    Interesting that the two primary architects of SB21 are fleeing Alaska for DC.

    Crying about “federal overreach” then becoming federal employees is about as hypocritical as it gets — even for Alaska.

    If they were such brilliant economic minds they would’ve been snatched up by the private sector.

  4. Anonymous

    You can’t keep a good man down. Even though Walker and Joe ballash butt heads- joe went on to bigger and better things. I am so pleased with this news! Congrats to joe!

  5. Aeriona E.

    It’s nice to see Sullivan’s underrated campaign staff are getting rewarded for their efforts. I’m glad it’s being reported on, given all the negative comments about Sullivan’s campaign, especially in the early stages, from the armchair campaign managers that frequent this site.

  6. Lynn Willis

    You correctly mentioned how these two individuals (Balash and Pawlowski) did do yeoman’s work on the AKLNG project. They could be considered subject matter experts – yet now they are gone as is Governor Parnell.
    As Amanda described the situation in a earlier post; ” only one-third of our legislators bothered to sit in on the AKLNG project update”. Fifty-two legislators voted to pass SB138 (AKLNG enabling legislation) yet only 20 of them, at last report, signed the confidentiality agreements deemed so essential for success . Therefore less than half of the those who supported this idea now have access to the confidential project status reports yet many of these same legislators would be expected to vote on the contracts necessary before entering actual project construction with Alaska as an equity partner.
    A serious “Achilles Heal” to this effort is the necessary “alignment over time” of the parties to work toward a common goal and that alignment seems to be in serious jeopardy already.

  7. bleary eyed

    Well said, as usual Jon K. The disappointing thing about Balash and Fish going to D.C. is that the state loses two of our brighter minds at a time when we could use their strategic and creative thinking.

  8. Jon K

    Joe and Mike Pawlowski are dedicated public servants who have worked for years to put Alaska first. While I haven’t always agreed with them on issues, they are good people that have worked very hard on behalf of Alaskans.

    They were the architects behind SB 21 and SB 138 and successfully carried both bills through a grueling legislative process. While there are very valid criticisms of both bills, many pundits and politicians decided to take the low road and claim that the Administration was serving its corporate master — when people claim that Alaska has become too divisive and partisan, this is the only instance of divisiveness that I can recall. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Parnell and his team were accused of being awful people that didn’t have Alaska’s best interest at heart. The narrative stuck and it helped sink this administration.

    Anyone who knows Joe and Mike understands that they worked countless hours to put these laws in place because they thought Alaska would benefit. So far the evidence shows they were correct. Relative to ACES we get more money, the amount of investment has exploded, we had the best lease sale in decades, we are seeing a record amount of drilling, new rigs are coming to the slope, record amount of jobs, we have more production, and we are seeing a lot more competition. On AK LNG they have aligned all of the key parties, no small feat, and collectively the enterprise hasmade significant process advancing the project.

    Mike and Joe made mistakes, but they deserve kudos for helping to put the North Slope, Cook Inlet, and the NS gas pipeline efforts in a much better place than it was four years ago.

    Hopefully Walker will not get similar dishonest treatment and his bills and initiatives will be analyzed on the merits so we won’t have misleading bumper-sticker attacks tarring his administration.

  9. CPGG49

    Joe Balash is an excellent choice. He’s smart, hardworking, has political acumen and most of all loves Alaska. Best wishes to both Dan and Joe.

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