Cabinet makeover: DEC, HSS, Admin., OMB - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Cabinet makeover: DEC, HSS, Admin., OMB

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NO STATUS QUO IN PICKS TO LEAD STATE DEPARTMENTS

Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy came roaring out of the gate after the Thanksgiving holiday with four new appointments to his cabinet. Three are Alaskans with deep business experience and one is a state budget hawk who just moved to Juneau on Sunday from Michigan to join the Dunleavy Administration.

“The status quo came to a screeching halt with the last election,” said Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy. “I promised to bring real change to state government, and these appointments will advance my agenda of reducing its size by focusing on results. These nominees bring real-world experience, new energy, and diverse perspectives that will help us deliver state services in innovative ways.”

Dunleavy named new commissioners of the Departments of Environmental Conservation, Health and Social Services, Administration, and a director of his Office of Management and Budget.

Three of his picks have not held state government positions before. They will face legislative confirmation, while the new OMB director will not. Confirmation requires 31 votes of a joint session of the 60-member Legislature.

Jason Brune

Jason Brune will be the new commissioner of Environmental Conservation, replacing Larry Hartig, who has served in that role since being appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin in 2007.

Brune was, until recently, the senior director lands and resource at Cook Inlet Region Inc, a Native corporation. Brune oversaw and participated in the development and administration of CIRI’s 1.6 million acres of subsurface resources, including oil, gas, minerals, sand and gravel, and coal.

He supervised the team’s staff, environmental contractors, stakeholder management, and legal review, while building relationships with CIRI’s villages.

Brune also worked to identify priorities for addressing contaminated lands. Prior to working at CIRI, Brune worked for Anglo American as the company’s public affairs and government relations manager. Anglo American is the former developer of the Pebble mine. The company walked away from the project after six years and $541 million invested.

Brune is also the former executive director for the Resource Development Council. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Carleton College and his graduate work was in environmental science at Alaska Pacific University.

He has served on the Alaska Sealife Center Board, Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Endangered Species Act (ESA) Recovery Team, Tyonek Tribal Conservation District Board, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Public Advisory Committee, and numerous other business and civic organizations.

Adam Crum

Adam Crum will serve as commissioner for Health and Social Services.

Crum is executive vice president of Northern Industrial Training, a privately held company in the Mat-Su.  Crum has managed large teams, multi-million dollar budgets, audited, developed, and customized programs for clients, negotiated contracts, and developed leadership programs for multiple companies.

Crum holds a M.S. in public health from Johns Hopkins University and is highly regarded in the business community for his ability to establish and lead teams. In 2016, he ran for Alaska Senate Seat F.

John Quick

John Quick will be the new commissioner of Administration. He is the chief of staff for Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce.

One of Quick’s signature achievements at the borough was reducing a $5 million deficit down to $400,000 simply by finding efficiencies.

Quick spearheaded a business incentive program designed to attract investment to the Peninsula.

Currently, Quick manages a team of 350, manages an annual budget of $140 million, and oversees 13 directors.

Quick has also found success as an entrepreneur, launching and selling multiple successful businesses, an experience that provided him with expertise in organizational structures, team-building, and hard work. Quick has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northwest University.

Donna Arduin

Donna Arduin will be Gov.-elect Dunleavy’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. She has an extensive resume helping governors get their budgets under control. A graduate of Duke University, Arduin graduated magna cum laude with honors in economics and public policy. She is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Leadership Program.

Arduin is the president of Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, LLC. She has a proven track record of digging in to complex fiscal systems and making recommendations for large-scale change.

Most recently, she performed similar work for Florida Speaker Marco Rubio, gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman (CA), and Rick Scott (FL), and Gov. Bruce Rauner (IL).

Arduin helped then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush cut taxes and build a surplus, despite a struggling state economy.

While working for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he referred to her as his “resident genius” and compared her work habits to those of a “machine.”

Prior to her career in the public sector, she worked as an analyst in New York and Tokyo in the private financial markets for Morgan Stanley and Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan.

[Read more about Donna Arduin in Must Read Alaska’s exclusive interview.]

“Today’s appointees are among the best and brightest in their fields,” said Dunleavy. “Their passion for results combined with the institutional knowledge found within state government will bring a bold, fresh approach to managing their respective departments. Alaska is at a crossroads, and it is past time to start doing things differently if we want different results. I am excited to witness how these dynamic new leaders innovate and reshape these departments with renewed focus on customer service and improved outcomes, whether that be reforming Medicaid, negotiating labor contracts, reducing state spending, or maintaining a healthy balance between resource development and environmental protection.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I continue to be impressed with the caliber and experience of Gov-Elect Dunleavy’s incoming team. I hope it trickles down into the small niches, where the fat is carefully hidden and the inefficiency resides in “we do it this way, because we’ve always done it this way” mentality of our “public servants”.

  • OK Alaska Republican House and Senate Members. Alaskans will be watching you very closely to make sure you work with our NEW governor. If you do not and we see you fighting his policies all the way, we will come and get you next election cycle! Don’t assume we are all hot air and NO action!

  • Great team so far.

  • Wow. This is going to be fun. Governor Dunleavy is bringing in some top-shelf people to really take a look and get down into the weeds. There are going to be some folks with some ‘splaining to do – that really won’t take much because they are going to be in so far over their heads they will be shown the door. If Dunleavy and his transition team haven’t weeded them out early on in the game, they won’t last long once these commissioners and OMB hawks get a hold of them. Game over.

  • An early thing they will need to look at is the IRIS “accounting system”, a debacle of epic proportions that has obfuscated the States accounting errors for several years. Rumor is that there is a $20 million ICAP bust that the books never showed for starters (thanks middle management).

  • You mention that one of the members come from Michigan. But then in the bio’s there is no mention to anyone from Michigan. As an exMichigander, I am curious what the Michigan reference you note in your article?

  • Look into Adam Crum’s background, especially what he accomplished after HS. Adam is my nephew and one of the most outstanding young men I have ever met. The State of Alaska is very fortunate to have Adam in their government. He is a Great Leader!!!

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