Alaska News

Dr. Anne Zink to resign as Alaska’s chief medical officer

Dr. Anne Zink said Friday that she is planning to step down from her position as Alaska’s chief medical officer in April.

“It’s definitely been the opportunity of a lifetime, and has been an amazing experience,” she said in an interview. “But it’s just time to to make a career change and do some other new things.”

While no firm date was set for her departure, Zink said she would continue working in the position full-time until early April. Zink said her successor has not yet been selected by Alaska’s health commissioner, Heidi Hedberg.

An Alaska Department of Health spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions Friday about the timeline of a new appointment.

Zink’s departure was made public on Thursday by Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who thanked Zink for “her years of leadership and for saving lives across the state during the pandemic” during an annual address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature.

“She’s done a great job for the state of Alaska,” Murkowski said.

Zink, an emergency room physician, became chief medical officer — a role that involves providing clinical advice to the governor and to the state’s health department — less than a year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.


Zink quickly became a household name in Alaska for her role in leading the state’s pandemic response — and later, a target for attacks by a growing anti-vaccine movement and other critics of COVID-19 measures.

She said Friday that part of her reason for resigning in April is to avoid leaving too close to an election.

“Most of the previous chief medical officers have transitioned at non-governor election times. And so that has always been my goal — to transition at a time not associated with elections, just to try to keep this position as apolitical as possible,” she said.

Zink said she was planning to take the summer off to spend time with her family, and then would likely be pursuing a job in the field of health data, in addition to continuing to take on shifts at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer.

“I really think in this country, we need a health system that promotes health, not just addresses illness. And one of the ways we get there is by having better data,” she said.

Reflecting on her years helping lead Alaska’s coronavirus response, Zink said: “I’m very proud of how Alaska was able to respond.”

Of the job, she said: “It was the honor of a lifetime.”

Annie Berman

Annie Berman is a reporter covering health care, education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in San Francisco before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at