For immediate release
Feb. 18, 2021
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555 (cell)

Anchorage, AK — A lifelong Alaskan from a rural village whose expertise extends from tribal governance to health care to community development has joined Rasmuson Foundation as a program officer.

Deborah Vo, who is part of the Foundation’s grantmaking team, most recently worked as special assistant for rural affairs to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Vo was born and raised in St. Mary’s on the Lower Yukon River, the youngest of 10 siblings. She started her career as her hometown’s first female city manager. She also served as a tribal administrator, a health planner facilitating tribal management of statewide Alaska Native health services, and executive director of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, a former statewide advocacy group for Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes. Vo also worked for two companies in the Community Development Quota program that channels investments from fisheries into jobs, education and other benefits in 65 Western Alaska communities, and she managed rural energy planning for the Alaska Energy Authority.

During her nearly seven years in Murkowski’s office, Vo represented the senator at gatherings, advised her on rural issues and accompanied her on rural travel.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management from Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and a Master of Business Administration from Alaska Pacific University.

“I’m just a village girl from St. Mary’s,” Vo said. “I believe in giving back to my community, an elemental Alaska Native value. In rural communities, everyone is taken care of. Those who can, provide for the rest. I will continue to advocate for rural issues in my new role with Rasmuson Foundation.”

“I’ve admired Deborah’s work for years. Anyone who’s spent time in rural Alaska has likely bumped into her at the airport at some point,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “She’s had a voice in developing public policy and new systems from the inside. And she sees it all from the perspective of someone raised in a small village.”

[Download: Press release_Foundation announces new program officer]

 About the Foundation

Through grantmaking and initiatives, Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.