Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, Yup’ik, is the 12th president of Alaska Pacific University and the first woman to lead the institution. She joins the university after a distinguished career in health care administration, policy, governance, and advocacy.
Davidson is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council. She was the first Alaska Native woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska when her strength as a leader was needed to steady our state. She also served in the Governor’s line of succession, having been selected by Governor Bill Walker and confirmed by the Alaska Legislature for this critical role. Davidson was appointed by Governor Bill Walker in December 2014 to serve as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services. While there, her visionary leadership and ability to manage difficult dialogues, diverse leaders and teams, and critical issues made it possible to implement expanded Medicaid coverage to over 45,000 Alaskans, implement Medicaid Reform and negotiate the first Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact with 162 Alaska Tribes, the first of its kind in the nation.
Davidson previously worked for over 15 years as a national policymaker on matters affecting Self- Determination, Self-Governance, and Indian health and well-being. As Senior Director of Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, she represented Alaska Native communities and health needs at federal, state, and community levels. Davidson was also the spokesperson, chief political and legal strategist for ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Therapy Program, the country’s first mid-level dental program.
Davidson served for 11 years as the Technical Co-Lead Negotiator of the Alaska Tribal Health Compact, a unified federal compact on behalf of 229 Tribes in Alaska. Davidson previously served as Chair of the national Tribal Technical Advisory Group to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under both Democratic and Republican administrations from its inception in 2004 until 2014. Davidson also served on the U.S. Department of Justice Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. A key component of her leadership was to help define multiple innovations to ensure Native peoples and our communities receive the best utilization of our government-to-government relationship and the federal trust responsibility. She also broadened this to work effectively with private philanthropy and other champions who could support this critical work.
Davidson currently serves as Trustee of the First Alaskans Institute, Commissioner of the Lancet Commission on Arctic Health, member of the Executive Advisory Committee of the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience, and member of the Foraker Group Governance Board. Davidson also serves on the Founder’s Council of the United States of Care, a bipartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.
Davidson earned a Bachelor of Education with a specialty in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Bilingual Education from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She has deployed her education and commitment to her Native peoples and Alaska to advance a collective and holistic approach to Self-Governance and the well-being for all Alaskans.