New opportunity for Alaska tribal health leader

After leading a statewide tribal health organization through tremendous growth and working in the health field for decades, Roald Helgesen, Haida, has moved on to a new opportunity. 

During his tenure, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium added a third more employees; purchased, built, and reconfigured several buildings in Anchorage; and increased revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars.s 

Helgesen left as head of the Anchorage-based Alaska Native Medical Center in August.

In 2011, he said: “When I first got to ANMC the podiatrist [foot doctor] was treating patients in a converted janitor’s closet. That’s how badly they needed space … we needed more and we needed better. Our staff, our people deserve better.”

So he began working toward improvements, starting with staffing and “the space to do the work. Then it was about removing barriers to access to care,” Helgesen said.

‘I fell into the health field’

One of Helgesen’s first jobs was for a wholesaler, “making sure all the Pepsi cans faced the right way,” he told the University of Alaska Anchorage alumni association. He worked on a political campaign then as a state legislative page, jobs that led to an interest in public policy and a degree in political science.

After college he returned to his home town of Sitka in Southeast Alaska and, as it happened, got a temporary job at a tribally run hospital.

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