The first Alaska Native woman to serve as lieutenant governor will lead a key Tribal health organization in the state.
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium announced in a news release (Friday, March 12, 2021) that Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson (Yup’ik) will serve as interim president.
“It is such a humbling honor to be asked by the board to be able to step into this role. And I really, you know, my first priority is really going to be listening to what our employees have to say about their experience here and what it is that they need to be successful in the work that we do. And also having those same conversations with our partners who support our work and the Tribal health system in the state and the federal government, with foundations to provide support for ANTHC."
Davidson will work with the board of directors to lead the consortium and work toward its priorities of improving the quality of lives for Alaska Natives. She says it’s an opportunity to address the unmet healthcare needs in the state.
“I'm a village girl. And one thing we do is when there's work to get done, we just roll up our kaspuk sleeves and we get to work,” Davidson said. “One thing I've learned is … that people will do the most amazing things under the most impossible of conditions as long as they have the right reasons. And children and families and communities are always the right reason. And that's where we are today.”
Davidson is an enrolled Tribal citizen of the Orutsararmiut Native Council in Bethel.
ANTHC is a non-profit Tribal health organization that provides comprehensive medical services to more than 180,000 Alaska Native and Native American people through numerous programs, including the Alaska Native Medical Center. ANTHC co-manages the medical center with Southcentral Foundation.
Davidson takes over after Andy Teuber resigned as AANTHC chairman and president In late February, . Acting president Garvin Federenko will remain the Tribal health consortium’s chief executive officer, according to the news release.
It also marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Davidson says that Tribal health organizations are largely credited with leading the distribution of vaccines to Alaska Natives, but also include others who may not benefit from Tribal health care.
“We're seeing firsthand how a really robust Tribal health system helps all Alaskans,” Davidson said. “We were among the first to do the vaccines in the country, and what that tells me is that our entire state has benefited and if we can do that well during a pandemic, imagine what we can do when we're not in the middle of a pandemic.”
Davidson will take a leave of absence from her role as president of Alaska Pacific University to take on the ANTHC role. According to Davidson, APU provost Hilton Hallock will serve as acting president of the school in that time.
With a long career in education and health care, she previously was ANTHC’s senior director of legal and intergovernmental affairs. She also previously served as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
In October 2018, she began serving as lieutenant governor for then-Governor Bill Walker, after the previous lieutenant governor, Byron Mallott, resigned amid Walker’s re-election campaign. Walker later pulled out of the gubernatorial race.
Davidson began her new position Monday, March 15.