Abramson named Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor, Jerry Abramson, will resign effective Nov. 13 to take a new position as Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the White House, and Governor Steve Beshear will appoint former state Auditor Crit Luallen as the state’s new second-in-command.
Governor Steve Beshear announced the resignation and appointment today in the Capitol’s formal State Reception Room, flanked by his current and incoming lieutenants.
“This is a bittersweet moment for me and for our administration. Jerry and I have been friends for more than 30 years, and I chose him as my Lieutenant Governor because I knew that his extensive experience as longtime mayor of Louisville, his contagious enthusiasm and his knack for building momentum around new ideas would make him a great partner in leading our state,” said Gov. Beshear. “But the White House noticed all those skills, too, and realized that he will take those same gifts and put them to work on our nation’s domestic agenda. He will be an outstanding addition to the President’s administration, and we will miss him terribly.”
Abramson’s role is to be the nexus between the President’s domestic agenda and city, county, state, and tribal governments. He will help state and local governments manage policy issues and challenges, such as infrastructure, natural disasters, and public health.
“The challenges that face America’s local communities – such as workforce training, education, infrastructure investment, shrinking budgets, affordable housing, public transportation, and emergency response – are the issues that I’ve worked on for more than 30 years in local and state government. I’m honored to be in a position to help this country’s mayors, county executives, governors and other local officials tackle these issues and work to find innovative solutions,” said Lt. Gov. Abramson. “I’m grateful to Gov. Beshear for bringing me on board three years ago, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to bring jobs to our state and to strengthen Kentucky families. My experience in the Kentucky Capitol will be vital as I step into my new role.”
In addition to serving as a key advisor to the Governor, Lt. Gov. Abramson led multiple initiatives for the administration. He served as chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, and launched a statewide version of “Close the Deal”, a program he created while mayor of Louisville to give high school students the tools they need to navigate applying to college. Lt. Gov. Abramson also chairs the kyhealthnow initiative, which seeks to improve several of Kentucky’s worst health statistics over the next few years.
“The good news is that now, there’s a Kentuckian in the White House. What an asset for our state to have someone who understands Kentucky’s needs and can make a direct appeal on federal decisions and policies,” said Gov. Beshear.
Luallen, a former state Auditor, has decades of experience in Kentucky’s executive branch, including stints as state budget director, Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet and Secretary of the Tourism Cabinet.
“Crit is a well-known and beloved public servant, respected by members of both parties for her resolute pursuit of clean, ethical government,” said Gov. Beshear. “She was my first and only choice to serve as the new Lieutenant Governor, and I know Kentuckians will be confident that she is more than up to the task. I’m glad she agreed to return to state government, and I’m certain she will bring that same tenacity and grit to the Lt. Governor’s office.”
“It is a high honor to stand here today in partnership with this Governor,” said Luallen. “Serving as Lieutenant Governor gives me an opportunity to continue to serve Kentucky and offer my experience and perspective to Gov. Beshear and the fine team he has assembled. It will be my personal goal to help the Governor end his term in office with the state in as strong a position as possible to face the challenges the future holds.”
Luallen worked for six Kentucky governors before winning two terms as Auditor. During her time as Auditor, the Auditor’s Office uncovered millions of dollars in government fraud and questionable expenditures, leading to the criminal prosecutions of 34 individuals.
In 2001, Luallen was awarded the National Excellence in Leadership Award by Women Executives in State Government, and in 2009, she was named Public Official of the Year by Washington, D.C.-based magazine “Governing” for her positive impact on government in Kentucky.
“Crit Luallen has served state government in a variety of ways over the years, so she certainly will bring a wealth of information to the administration. I wish her the best as she takes on this responsibility,” said Speaker Greg Stumbo.
“I have great respect for Crit Luallen,” said Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers. “She and I have always worked well together, professionally and personally, and I look forward to that relationship continuing with Lt. Gov. Luallen. On behalf of the Kentucky Senate, we would like to wish Jerry Abramson the best in his new role in the Obama administration.”
Lt. Governor Abramson’s resignation will be effective at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13. Luallen will be sworn in at that time at a private ceremony, with a formal public swearing-in scheduled for Friday, Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.
About Lt. Gov. Abramson
Lt. Governor Abramson, of Louisville, was nicknamed “Mayor for Life” after winning a total of five terms as that city’s mayor, two of them over a merged city and county government. He oversaw a dramatic transformation of Louisville during his tenure, including bringing the KFC Yum! Center to the city’s waterfront and supporting the expansion of major employers such as UPS, Ford and GE. At the same time, Abramson supported local small business and accelerated the community’s downtown revitalization with the addition of Slugger Field, Waterfront Park, Fourth Street Live, the Frazier History Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center.
In Louisville, Abramson pioneered local public-private partnerships to further policy goals, including “Close the Deal,” which brought together the business, government, education and civic leaders from Greater Louisville to expand the number of high school students going on to college; and the “Louisville Education and Employment Partnership” (LEEP), which focused on decreasing the high school dropout rate.
He also collaborated with diverse partners to reinvent Louisville as a “City of Parks” and to develop a nationally recognized public housing model. In 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors acknowledged Abramson’s impact when it named Louisville “America’s Most Livable Large City.”
Abramson received a Bachelor of Science in business economics from Indiana University and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969-1971, and then went on to two terms on Louisville’s Board of Aldermen. In addition to privately practicing law, he served in state government as general counsel to Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr.
He and his wife, Madeline, have a son, Sidney.
About Crit Luallen
Luallen’s service began in 1974 as a campaign staff member to Wendell Ford. She served nearly seven years as Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, a position similar to chief operating officer. In this position, Luallen was the chief operating officer of Kentucky, with responsibility for more than 35,000 full-time employees and a budget of $17 billion.
Luallen also served as State Budget Director, Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of the Arts, and Special Assistant to the Governor. She also spent four years in Louisville and served as President of the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership, a regional economic development agency.
She also served two terms as Kentucky’s Auditor of Public Accounts. During her tenure, the Auditor’s Office uncovered millions of dollars in government fraud and questionable expenditures, leading to the criminal prosecution of 34 individuals.
During her years of service to Kentucky, Ms. Luallen was pivotal in many of the Commonwealth’s greatest accomplishments. She played a key role in developing and securing passage of the historic Higher Education Reforms of 1997 and the Early Childhood Development initiative. Ms. Luallen chaired EMPOWER Kentucky, a government efficiency initiative that produced savings to Kentucky taxpayers of $600 million. She helped develop the Agricultural Development Board that determines the uses of Kentucky’s tobacco settlement funds and she chaired Kentucky’s Homeland Security Team. In response to allegations of wrongdoing in the Transportation Cabinet, Ms. Luallen spearheaded the creation of an Office of Inspector General.
Ms. Luallen also played a leadership role in developing the Governor’s School for the Arts, the Kentucky History Center, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, and the expansion of the Commonwealth Convention Center in Louisville.
Luallen is a native of Frankfort, a graduate of Centre College where she serves on the Board of Trustees and is married to Lynn Luallen, retired CEO of the Kentucky Housing Corporation.