Gov. Dunleavy appoints acting commissioner of Alaska’s new social services department

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has appointed an acting commissioner for Alaska’s new Department of Family and Community Services, created this year through a split of the state’s sprawling Department of Health and Social Services.

Kim Kovol, who previously worked as a special assistant to Dunleavy, will serve as the first commissioner of the new department, which will begin operating Friday, July 1.

Dunleavy split the department through an executive order, also creating a new Department of Health.

The Department of Family and Community Services will oversee the Division of Juvenile Justice, Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska Pioneer Homes and the Office of Children’s Services.

The split is intended to streamline government by creating smaller agencies aligned around funding, each with its own commissioner more able to focus on priorities, state officials have said.

“I selected Ms. Kovol to serve as the first commissioner of the new department because of her dedication and commitment to assisting Alaskan families,” Dunleavy said in a statement.

Prior to being appointed commissioner, Kovol was appointed last year as a special assistant to Dunleavy tasked with addressing social services such as domestic violence and homelessness.

Kovol previously worked as deputy director of Bean’s Cafe, an Anchorage soup kitchen. She also has a crafts business, Ice Diva Designs LLC.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The Associated Press and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror.