If Karen Wheeler was retiring, it was a short retirement. It must have been more of a resignation.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder picked up a blue-chipper on Tuesday when she announced that former Deputy Secretary of State Wheeler would be joining her staff.
Wheeler, who worked 37 years in the Capitol, stepped down from the Secretary of State’s office at the end of 2022 after working in the office under seven different administrations.
Few have a better understanding of how state government works than Wheeler, who began her career in 1985 when Thyra Thomson was in the tail end of her 24 years as the state’s second-highest elected official.
Degenfelder said Wheeler would serve as the Boards and Commissioners Coordinator for the Department of Education.
“One of my top priorities as state superintendent is to maximize return on state lands and investments for schools and other beneficiaries,” Degenfelder said.
This is where Wheeler’s background is invaluable. In the Secretary of State’s office, she staffed the meetings from the State Loan and Investment Board to the State Board of Land Commissioners to the State Building Commission on this exact topic.
“[She] will be an invaluable resource on this priority,” Degenfelder said.
Degenfelder also noted that Wheeler received national recognition for the state-of-the-art administrative rules system and blockchain and digital asset regulation — both of which fell under Wheeler’s purview.