‘My goals right now are to just listen’: Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson begins interim leadership role at Alaska’s largest tribal health organization

Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson has been named interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal...
Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson has been named interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. (Courtesy ANTHC)(Courtesy ANTHC)
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a series of recent changes within the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson completed her first day as the organization’s new interim president of its board of directors on Monday.

Last week, Davidson was announced as the interim ANTHC president following the abrupt resignation and disappearance of Andy Teuber.

“I come from a really long line of incredibly strong Alaska native women who, when our community calls us to service, we step up,” she said during an interview Monday.

She said there is a lot of work to be done, and a big part of that includes listening.

“My goals right now are to just listen,” she said. “To really listen to employees about what they see or opportunities for improvement here, listen to our partner organizations and the tribal health system who have been doing incredible work during this time of pandemic, and I’m really ready to roll up my sleeves and get to some hard work.”

Davidson will take a leave of absence from her role as president of Alaska Pacific University. APU is a tribal university affiliated with the consortium. She’s held the position since March 2020.

She is no stranger to stepping into leadership roles during times of stress and transition.

Davidson, who is Yup’ik, was the first Alaska Native woman to hold the position of lieutenant governor in the state. She was named to the role after her predecessor, the now-late Byron Mallott, resigned after making inappropriate comments to a woman.

Until then, she’d served as the state’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services under former Gov. Bill Walker.

“During times of stress is where we really have the opportunity to live our values,” she said. “And I’m really proud of the fact that I’m a village girl at heart — one of the really great things about growing up in a village and being a village kid is that you learn from a really early age the value of hard work, the value of service to your community.”

Davidson said she could not discuss the ongoing investigation into allegations against Teuber, but said steps to address and prevent sexual misconduct are already underway.

That includes an expedited rollout of a new sexual harassment training that every ANTHC employee is required to take.

Davidson said she has also completed the training.

“My role as interim president is to really ensure that I support the board during their time of transition,” she said.

Davidson also noted the great success of tribal organizations in responding to the pandemic, allowing Alaska to lead the nation in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

“These incredible partnerships that we see right now that have allowed us to be able to extend the vaccination more than any other state, I often, I’m really excited about, if we can do that now, during the crisis of a global pandemic, we can also do that in other areas in a post-COVID world, and I’m excited about that opportunity,” she said.

Davidson said the board is looking to fill the position with a permanent selection as quickly as possible, and she is not sure how long she will be serving as interim president.

Correction: This article has been corrected to properly identify Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson as the interim ANTHC president. A previous version titled her as the interim board president.

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