Marilyn Stewart is the newly appointed executive director of the Alaska Commission on Human Rights. The decision was made by the all-volunteer board of directors of the commission on Friday.
Stewart most recently ran for the House seat occupied by Rep. Matt Claman, representing District 21, Anchorage. For the past several months she has worked for Gov. Michael Dunleavy as director of outreach. She starts on Monday as the first African-American woman to hold the position in the 55 years of the commission’s history.
Stewart is originally from Alabama. She came to Alaska with the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Richardson. In 2012, she was awarded the Freedom’s Sister Award by Ford Motor Company for her community outreach. Previous recipients included Myrlie Evers-Williams, Barbara Jordan, and Rosa Parks.
She is the former director of the Office of Equal Opportunity under Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, small business development program manager at the Alaska Department of Commerce, deputy director of community relations for Gov. Frank Murkowski, and constituent relations aide to Gov. Tony Knowles.
Stewart was the co-founder and first executive director of Bridge Builders of Anchorage, and president/CEO of the Alaska Black Chamber of Commerce.
She was a volunteer on the re-election campaign of Gov. Sean Parnell, and ran for State House in 2016 and 2018 against Rep. Matt Claman, losing both times to the incumbent Democrat.
The position of the executive director of the agency opened up after the former head of the agency posted a note on a man’s truck telling him to remove it from the agency’s parking lot because of its “Black Rifles Matter” decal.
Marti Buscaglia was disciplined and suspended from her job, and then resigned in April. At the same time, several board members resigned and the staff’s enforcement officer also resigned. The governor has been able to appoint several new board members in the brief time since the scandal took place.