Karen Perdue is a lifelong Alaskan with a background in health care, higher education, and public policy. Growing up in Fairbanks, her parents, Ralph and Dorothy Perdue, provided an example of community involvement shaping her values about public service.
Her work career began as a youth reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, graduating into a full-fledged reporter and photographer. She garnered awards for her press work, edited a weekly Native Alaska newspaper, and served as executive producer of two Emmy-award-winning documentaries on Alaska history.
Perdue attended Stanford University earning a degree in biology. She worked on the Trans Alaska pipeline to pay tuition and learned how to get along with a wide range of people and to stand up for herself in a male workforce.
She served as an Assistant Press Secretary and legislative aide to Senator Ted Stevens while the significant battleground legislation about Alaska land designations (ANILCA) passed.
Perdue served under four governors beginning with Governor Hammond as Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services and was the longest-serving DHSS Commissioner since statehood. She expanded health insurance for thousands of pregnant women and children, beefed up care for the mentally ill and disabled, and strengthened public health.
She served a decade as the VP of Health Programs at the University of Alaska where she received her Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2017 and currently serves on the Board of Regents.
Perdue is passionate about the North, its people and history. She led two award-winning projects 1) to celebrate the 50th year of Alaska’s Constitution and 2) to remember the mentally ill sent out of Alaska for care. In addition, she spent a decade serving as a US representative to the Arctic Council.