Alberta Politics

Public Affairs Bureau boss Lee Funke resigns.

Lee Funke, Managing Director of Alberta’s Public Affairs Bureau, announced his resignation in an email to government staff today. Mr. Funke had served as Managing Director of the government’s communications branch since March 2010.

Tracy Balash, Executive Director of Communications Planning, has been asked to step in as acting Managing Director. Ms. Balash recently joined the PAB after working in Premier Alison Redford‘s Communications Office.

The PAB was already in a period of transition after the retirement of Kathy Lazowski, its executive director of strategic communications.

Here is the text of the email he sent this morning:

Good morning team,

Two weeks ago I went to Peter Watson and informed him of my decision to return to private consulting once my contract as Managing Director of the Public Affairs Bureau ended. Peter has graciously allowed me to take some personal time before my contract concludes March 31, so my last day as Managing Director is tomorrow.

Reaching my decision was difficult, I am so very proud to lead this organization. Events like the recent Alberta Economic Summit held in Calgary demonstrate the important role we play in communicating significant policy issues with Albertans. The professionalism of our team was evident the entire day and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I see that same dedication by each employee of the PAB everyday – whether it is managing a special event to announce a new program, developing a multi-media promotion campaign, designing a public consultation strategy, launching an information website, writing a speech, or responding to a media call.

The PAB has one of the most exciting and challenging functions in the Government of Alberta.

We are on the front line communicating the policy, program and organizational changes that are a daily reality in a large complex organization. And there has been much change over the last three years that I have been Managing Director. The increasing demands of a 24/7 news cycle, the advent of social media, and emergence of new political voices have meant the adoption of new tools and techniques to communicate our policy agenda with Albertans.

Of course, the election of Premier Redford as the new leader for our government also brought change. Many of us have new Ministers, DMs, and in some cases new departments. But we have also seen the addition of new policy and decision–making processes, as well as new co-workers in the form of Press Secretaries. I admire how our organization has responded by adapting and implementing the changes needed to support Premier Redford’s focused agenda.

While the past three years have been rewarding, it is now time to switch my time and energy back to my government relations and communications consulting business which has been on hold.

I will continue to be involved in public policy discussions (it is part of my DNA) and our paths are likely to cross again in the near future. I will also be spending some time with my ever patient family. I know my wife, [name removed by this blogger], is certainly looking forward to me assuming more of the responsibilities for raising our two sons.

I have asked Tracy Balash, Executive Director, Communications Planning to act on my behalf until a new Managing Director is selected. In addition, Andy Weiler, Executive Director, Strategic Communications and the rest of the head office team are in place to offer the services you need to deliver communications support to your clients. I know that you will all support Tracy and Andy over the next few weeks and apply your considerable talent and skills to the roll-out of a budget that requires tough but smart choices to deal with our government’s fiscal challenge.

Let me close by saying thank you to the PAB team for your support and encouragement.

Everything I accomplished during my tenure as Managing Director was made possible by you. I have learned much from the many projects we have worked on together and I leave this organization with new knowledge and skills. I wish you all continued success in your careers and personal life, you deserve nothing less.

All the best,


Click here to read the statement issued by Premier Redford’s Communications Director, Stefan Baranski.