Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, Alaska’s former health commissioner and the first Alaska Native woman to serve as lieutenant governor, has been named the president of the state’s largest tribal health organization.
Davidson had been acting as interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium since March following the resignation of Andy Teuber, who served for more than a decade as consortium president and CEO before abruptly resigning on Feb. 23. He died in a helicopter crash several days later.
The organization’s board of directors recently voted to remove “interim” from Davidson’s title. The change took effect Monday.
Davidson, who had been on a leave of absence from her role as president of Alaska Pacific University, said this week she was stepping down from that role in order to accept her new position. She was the first woman to lead APU.
“Working with the ANTHC team over the last few months has reinforced my belief that people can do the most amazing things under the most challenging conditions as long as we have the right reasons,” Davidson said in an emailed statement. “I’m honored to advance the Board’s vision and support the incredible ANTHC team in this important work on behalf of our children, families, and Tribal communities.”
Davidson is Yup’ik and a member of the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council.
In 2018, she became the first Alaska Native woman to serve as lieutenant governor, holding the position for a few months under former Gov. Bill Walker. Prior to that, she served as Walker’s commissioner of health and social services from 2014 until 2018.
When he named her a commissioner, Walker described Davidson as an expert on Medicaid in Alaska. She played a vital role in the governor’s decision to expand Medicaid in 2015, arguing the move meant broader health care services for Alaskans, including Alaska Natives.
Hilton Hallock will continue to serve as APU’s interim president while a search is conducted to hire a new president.