Top state legislative staffer, Karen Coates has died

Karen S. Coates (Twitter)

HARRISBURG — Karen Coates, the first woman to hold the position of Chief of Staff to speaker of the Pennsylvania House, has died.

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) issued the following statement on the death today of his chief of staff, Karen S. Coates, Esq.:

“We are devastated at the loss of our great friend and teammate who was an outstanding leader in state government, Karen Coates, the chief of staff of the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She was a person who broke glass ceilings, particularly as the first female to hold that position in the Commonwealth’s history. She always put her children first while balancing the immense responsibilities of managing a large staff and broad array of legislation.

“An attorney by training, Karen was intelligent, quick, strategic, savvy, straightforward and principled. She was also kind and respectful to all, humble and fun with a warm laugh. She was a role model and mentor to many on the House staff, as well as others. She was a natural leader and wise counselor. She personally resolved many legislative issues, helping to find solutions to move legislation forward on many significant policy fronts. We are indebted to her for her service to our team, the House and the Commonwealth. We will sadly miss her friendship.

“She cared deeply about her family, always dropping whatever was in front of her to talk to her daughter Caleigh and son Trey. She adored them and beamed talking about them. To them and her sister Andrea, brother Rick, mom Carmella, and companion Bob, we extend our love, support and prayers.

“Karen left us too soon. May she rest in peace with the good Lord.”

Senate Leaders also issued a statement that says in part quote:

“..Karen’s perspective and determination were tremendous assets during discussions and negotiations between our Chambers. She was an outstanding public servant whose intelligence and experience benefited not only the House, but the Senate as well..”


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