Acting Alaska health commissioner Hedberg is pick for permanent boss

a woman at a microphone
Heidi Hedberg, interim commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health, speaks at a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named the Alaska Department of Health’s interim leader as the agency’s new permanent commissioner.

In a prepared statement Monday, he announced the appointment of Heidi Hedberg, who has served in a variety of roles within the state’s division of public health. Hedberg’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.

“After working with Commissioner Hedberg the past four years, she has impressed me with her management skills, and ability to enact public health policies that make Alaskans healthier and safer,” Dunleavy said in a prepared statement. “Alaskans can be confident that the department responsible for their health and welfare is in good hands.”

The Department of Health formed July 1 after Dunleavy split the Department of Health and Social Services into two separate agencies. Adam Crum, the commissioner of the merged agency, continued as commissioner of the Department of Health until Dunleavy named him commissioner of the Department of Revenue in November.

Hedberg became acting health commissioner at that time.

She said in a prepared statement Monday that she was honored to be selected for the job.

Asked why there was a gap between her selection as acting commissioner and her decision to accept the job on a permanent basis, she said by email, “I wanted time to evaluate if this was the right position for me, being able to balance work and personal life. I am a wife and mom and love my family just as much as I love my work.”

As commissioner, Hedberg will earn a salary of $141,160.50, a figure set by Alaska’s state compensation commission. Her salary as division director, according to an Oct. 31 report, was $129,129.

The Department of Health has 1,442 full-time employees and a $950 million budget, the second-largest among state agencies. If federal funding is included, the department’s budget is proposed to be $3.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2024, the largest among state agencies and just under a third of all state operating budget spending.  

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