JUNEAU -- The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. has selected as its new executive director Angela Rodell, the candidate with the shortest tenure in the state, but perhaps the broadest financial background of the finalists for the position.
The other finalists for the job of managing the $52 billion fund were former University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers of Fairbanks, McKinley Capital Management executive Alex Slivka and former Alaska USA Trust CEO Glenn Cipriano, both of Anchorage.
Rodell, 48, was commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue, and also an APFC trustee, under Gov. Sean Parnell and lost that position with the change of administrations last fall. She lives in Juneau.
Rodell was named to the executive director position Friday following a short executive session of the APFC board of trustees. She and other candidates were interviewed and considered during a full-day meeting of the trustees at the Permanent Fund's Juneau headquarters Wednesday.
Final details of salary and benefits must still be negotiated, said board chair Bill Moran.
He called the decision the board faced "difficult."
Gov. Bill Walker issued a statement Friday congratulating Rodell. In addition to working in the administration of Parnell, Walker's electoral opponent, Rodell has also worked as a consultant for the Alaska Senate, where Republican leaders have often been in conflict with Walker.
But Rodell told the board that wouldn't be problem, and that she has a good working relationship with the Democratic-led minority caucuses in the Legislature as well.
"I don't perceive any issues in working with Gov. Walker and his administration," Rodell said.
Two members of Walker's administration participated in the trustees' unanimous vote to name her to the position.
Rodell will be the "face of the fund," said trustee Larry Hartig, who also serves as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Rodell will take the helm amid increasing calls to use the fund to operate state government, which might involve capping or eliminating dividends.
During Rodell's interview with trustees, she made it clear that she knows what the role of the Permanent Fund is in Alaska politics, and that the corporation manages the fund but doesn't decide what it's used for.
"That's not the role of the corporation, that's the role of the elected officials," she said.
"I think it's important that we stay in our lane ... our job is to manage this fund for all generations of Alaskans," she said.
Walker on Friday reiterated his opinion that the fund will be a part of the state's financial solution in his statement welcoming Rodell's appointment.
"The Alaska Permanent Fund will play an important role in addressing our state's fiscal challenges," he said.
Rodell was also asked about the possibility of using part of the Permanent Fund as an investment of some sort in the state's effort to build a big natural gas pipeline to export the state's gas.
Rodell declined to provide an opinion, calling such a decision "up to Alaskans."
Because of constitutional protections on the Permanent Fund, such an investment would probably require public approval in a constitutional amendment vote.
Rodell came to Alaska in 2011 to serve as a deputy commissioner of the Department of Revenue in the administration of Gov. Parnell. Her boss there was Commissioner Bryan Butcher, but when Butcher left to head the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Rodell was named commissioner.
After losing her job with Parnell with the election of Walker last fall, Rodell has served as a consultant to the Republican-led Senate Finance Committee, which contracted with her for financial advice.
Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and Senate Finance Chair Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, issued statements Friday praising the Rodell appointment.
"I believe their decision sets politics aside as they selected the candidate they believe has the experience and skills to best manage the fund for the benefit of all Alaskans," MacKinnon said.
Rodell's time in Alaska is just a fraction of that of other candidates, but she has extensive experience in the financial world -- and with Alaska even before moving to Juneau.
Before 2011, she was a senior vice president based in New York at FirstSouthwest, an investment bank specializing in public finance.
Rodell said she'd worked with Alaska entities such as AHFC as far back as the administration of Gov. Tony Knowles. Then, too, the state was facing financial stress, and she helped set up a structure in which AHFC began paying a dividend to the state, but ensured its continued operation as an independent housing agency. That familiarity helped her get the deputy commissioner position in 2011.
"I was looking for new challenges, quite frankly," Rodell told the board, explaining her move to Alaska.
Rodell left a job at FirstSouthwest paying $265,000 per year for a deputy commissioner job paying $119,800. The salary of the Permanent Fund executive director job was listed at $202,000 to $303,000. Former executive director Mike Burns was paid $333,000 annually.
Rodell will be the first woman to serve as the fund's executive director, but not the first former trustee to take the fund's helm. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott served as executive director and previously chaired the board, and former executive director Bob Storer had previously served on the board as acting revenue commissioner.
The current board of trustees is all male, and during the fund's history the vast majority of trustees have been male.
Valerie Mertz, the corporation's chief financial officer, has been serving as interim CEO. She did not apply for the permanent job.
The fund also announced Friday that Jim Parise, manager of fixed income investments, will serve as acting chief investment officer, following the departure this week of CIO Jay Willoughby.