Secretary Salazar Announces Top Communications Appointments

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that Betsy Hildebrandt will join his team as Director of Communications and Kendra Barkoff will serve as Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior. They join Deputy Director of Communications Matt Lee-Ashley, who served in Salazar's Senate office and has acted as director of the Office of Communications since January 21, 2009.

“Thanks to Matt Lee-Ashley and the excellent and professional work of the career staff at Interior, we hit the ground running to communicate President Obama's bold plans for the environment, energy and the economy,” the Secretary said. “Adding the great communications management experience of Betsy Hildebrandt and the Senate expertise and TV production background of Kendra Barkoff will give us one of the top press teams in the country and will help us engage the American people as we set our country on a new path,” he said.

Director of Communications Betsy Hildebrandt has more than twenty years of communications experience in the public and private sector. Most recently Hildebrandt served as Senior Manager for Technology Marketing and Communication at Accenture, where she has been the marketing lead for a multimillion-dollar business line. Previously she worked as a Senior Account Executive at Greer, Margolis Mitchell Burns, as a producer at Fenn and King Communications, and as a legislative assistant to Rep. Les AuCoin (D-Ore.). She has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and has completed coursework at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Deputy Director of Communications Matt Lee-Ashley served as Director of Communications and speech writer for then-Senator Salazar before Salazar became Secretary of the Interior. Lee-Ashley previously worked on public lands, defense, and veterans issues as a legislative assistant in Salazar's Senate office. He has worked for Salazar since 2004. A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lee-Ashley graduated summa cum laude from Pomona College in Claremont, California with a B.A. in History.

Press Secretary Kendra Barkoff comes to the Department of the Interior from the office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), where she served as press secretary. Before joining Casey's staff, she served as the Democratic Media Coordinator for the Senate's Assistant Majority Leader, Dick Durbin (D-IL). In her role as media coordinator, Barkoff dramatically increased the number of Democratic senators who appeared on radio and TV nationwide. Before working for Senator Durbin, Barkoff worked at KRON-TV in San Francisco and in the press offices of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Barkoff has a B.A. from Washington University.

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