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Karen Kirchgasser, State Department employee

Karen Kirchgasser, 44, a former Capitol Hill aide and deputy press secretary to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright who joined the Foreign Service in 2006, died Sept. 13 at the Washington Home hospice.

She had metastatic breast cancer, said her sister, Alison Kirchgasser.

Ms. Kirchgasser was in the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 2007 and became staff assistant to the U.S. ambassador.

The next year, she was named executive secretary for the U.S. delegation to the New START nuclear disarmament treaty negotiations with Russia in Geneva.

At the time of her death, Ms. Kirchgasser had completed Polish language training for an assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.

Karen Emilie Kirchgasser was born in Beverley, England, to American parents. She grew up in Potsdam, N.Y.

Ms. Kirchgasser graduated in 1989 from Syracuse University with a double major in communications and political science, then worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide for Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) and press secretary to Sen. Richard H. Bryan (D-Nev.).

In 1998, she joined the State Department’s public affairs team. She accompanied Albright to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Il in 2000.

In 2000, Ms. Kirchgasser became a senior vice president with GMMB, a Georgetown-based political consulting and advertising firm, where she worked on domestic and global health campaigns.

Taking night classes, she received a master’s degree in international policy and practice from George Washington University in 2005.

Besides her sister, survivors include her father, William Kirchgasser of Potsdam, and her mother and stepfather, Marjorie Hess and Rudy Talaber of Northampton, Mass.

— Adam Bernstein

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