SEARHC names Roald Helgesen as new president

Former vice president to succeed Ken Brewer

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2007

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Board of Directors this week selected Roald Helgesen to be the organization's new president and chief executive officer.

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Helgesen is a former SEARHC vice president of administration and most recently served as CEO of the Dirne Community Health Center in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, according to a SEARHC press release.

Helgesen replaces former SEARHC President and CEO Ken Brewer, who died unexpectedly in June.

SEARHC is a nonprofit tribal health consortium that provides medical, dental, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment and wellness services to Southeast Alaska Natives. It employs about 1,000 people.

"We are excited to bring Roald home to SEARHC," said Jan Hill, chairman of the SEARHC Board of Directors. "Roald was a highly respected employee and manager when he worked at SEARHC, and the board feels he is the ideal person to lead the consortium into the future."

Helgesen grew up in Sitka and is an enrolled tribal member with Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in public administration. He earned a master's degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, earning the department award for excellence in graduate education.

In 1993 he was hired by SEARHC at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, starting in telecommunications and being promoted to telecommunications supervisor in 1995. Two years later, Helgesen became a health systems analyst and executive assistant and in 2000 was promoted to director of administrative services. Helgesen was promoted to vice president of administration in 2003 and moved to SEARHC's Juneau headquarters.

He left Alaska in 2004 to take the health care manager position at the Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women in Medical Lake, Wash., and in 2006 he was hired as CEO of the Dirne Community Health Center.

"My family is happy to be returning home to Southeast Alaska," Helgesen said. "It is an honor to be able to work toward SEARHC's mission with the values of our Native people."

He also has served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Sitka Fire Department and worked on the high angle-technical rope rescue team from 1997-98. He has been a medical escort with the SEARHC Air Medical Service. When he was younger, he served as a sergeant-at-arms and page for the Alaska State Legislature.

In 2003, Helgesen was honored as one of Alaska's "Top Forty Under 40" by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

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