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Meghan Sullivan
Indian Country Today

Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, Yup’ik, has been named interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, after the previous president resigned last month.

Davidson began overseeing the tribal health service strategy on Monday for more than 180,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians — a critical role as the pandemic continues into spring. She’ll replace acting President Garvin Federenko, who will remain chief executive officer of the organization.

“We sincerely appreciate Garvin’s willingness to step in, ensuring business continuity in the last few weeks,” said Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Board Chair Bernice Kaigelak, Inupiaq, in a press release. “We look forward to having Valerie continue to move our organization forward. Valerie is a strong leader and we are excited for the focus and energy she will bring to our executive leadership.”

Davidson has a record of leadership in multiple roles throughout Alaska. She was the first Alaska Native woman to serve as Alaska lieutenant governor, after focusing on the state’s public well-being as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. She previously worked as the Consortium’s senior director of Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Davidson’s past work has earned her a reputation as a steadying leader who has the “ability to manage difficult dialogues,” explained a Consortium press release. Raised in Bethel, she is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council, and has dedicated her career to serving Alaska Native communities.

“I am incredibly honored to serve both our workforce and our Alaska Native people across the state in this role,” Davidson said. “I am focused on continuing to advance the efforts already underway to lead our staff through the challenging situations that have presented themselves in the last few weeks. Even more important than those immediate needs, I am excited to cultivate an inclusive culture throughout the Consortium that highlights ANTHC’s commitment to excellence for its people and the innovative services we provide.”

Davidson will be taking a leave of absence from her role as Alaska Pacific University president.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Chairman Andy Teuber introduces U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Azar was in Anchorage to tour the Alaska Native Health Campus. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The Consortium’s presidency was left vacant in late February, after Andy Teuber, Sugpiaq, the previous president and chairman, resigned amidst allegations of employee abuse and sexual misconduct. He had served as the head of the organization since 2008. In early March, Teuber was declared missing after the helicopter he piloted crashed into waters off of Kodiak Island.

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Meghan Fate Sullivan, Koyukon Athabascan, grew up in Alaska, and is currently reporting on her home state from our Anchorage Bureau.