COLUMBUS (TDB) -- A top Ohio EPA official under Republican administrations since 1991 will become No. 2 at the agency under Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Laura Powell, currently the acting administrator, will move back into her old position as assistant director. She will be the chief deputy of Strickland-appointee Chris Korleski, who is scheduled to take over the top spot on Feb. 1.
"Laura's knowledge of the agency and her strong background in legislative and policy issues will be a tremendous asset to the administration, particularly during this time of transition," Korleski said. Powell said she looks forward to working with Korleski, whom she says envisions an "environmentally friendly economic development and a common sense approach to the regulatory process."
Prior to joining Ohio EPA in 1991, Powell was a legislative aide to former State Sen. Gary Suhadolnik, a Cleveland-area Republican who chaired the Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Committee. She is a graduate of Duke University and majored in public policy studies with a focus on health care and hospital management. Powell does have some Democratic credentials -- she interned with the late U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper, a Florida firebrand from the New Deal era who was a fierce advocate for the nation's senior citizens. Powell started at Ohio EPA as a legislative liaison and took over as chief of its Office of Legislative Affairs in 1999.
Former Gov. Bob Taft named her Ohio EPA's acting director on Dec. 29. Powell is one of a handful of high-ranking officials from the Taft years to hang on to her state job.