Kenai graduate speaks for governor

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004

If Becky Hultberg was to issue a press release announcing her new job, the headline might read: Kardinal girl makes good.

Last month, Gov. Frank Murkowski picked Hultberg to be his new press secretary. Hultberg confirmed rumors Monday that she indeed attended Kenai Central High School.

"I'm a Kenai High graduate and proud of it," said the one-time Kardinal.

Before being tapped for the job of press secretary, Hultberg was a special assistant in the governor's office working on transportation and education issues. She directed the Kenai district office of Alaska's congressional delegation, before moving to Juneau with her husband Jeff, also a KCHS graduate daughter, Sophie, 5, and son, Brandt, 2, to join the governor's staff.

Hultberg replaced John Manly, who held the job of spokesperson since the governor took office in 2002. She said the duties of her new position are just what the title suggests.

"Primarily, I interface with the media to make sure they get the kind of information they need," she said.

Because it's difficult to predict what might make the news, Hultberg often doesn't know at the start of each day who she'll be talking to or what they'll be talking about.

"Every day is different. It's not a job that falls into a pattern or routine," she said.

As press secretary, Hultberg spends a lot of time speaking on behalf of the governor to Alaska newspaper, magazine and television media. But her job also includes speaking to the national media everything from small specialized trade journals to major network news programs.

"It's interesting to see what's on the radar nationally for Alaska," she said. "Energy issues are always on the radar screen ... especially with the gas prices so high."

The proposed natural gas line, to deliver what Hultberg calls "all those gas reserves on the north coast to market," has been of particular interest to the national media, she said.

Hultberg is a graduate of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, where she majored in history and minored in economics and public service. But she credits both academic and athletic skills she learned at KCHS, where she was valedictorian and played on the state champion 1990-91 girls' basketball team, with helping her get where she is today.

"I learned a lot about life and other things from my basketball coaches and my English teacher," she said. "I think my experience on the basketball court and in Lois Massie's (advance placement English) classroom prepared me better than anything else I've done."

She said she may be overstating the impact of what she's learned, however, high school was where she learned to think critically and be tenacious.

"Memorizing facts is one thing. But learning how to think critically is essential," she said. "Then you've got to be a little hard-nosed, and I think I learned that on the basketball court."

Hultberg is a particular fan of learning how to think critically. She sees it as a portable life skill.

"Critical thinking is something you can take with you where ever you go," she said.

The Hultbergs moved their family to Juneau to work in the Murkowski administration, but they still think of the central peninsula as home and plan to return when circumstances allow.

"If I could somehow live in Kenai and Juneau at the same time I would," Hultberg said. "We've always considered Kenai home, and we'll be back some day."

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