• Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson
    Opening Plenary Keynote Speaker
    Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, Yup’ik, has enjoyed a distinguished career in health care administration, policy, governance and advocacy. Davidson most recently served as President/CEO of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the first woman to serve in that role. Davidson previously served as the first woman President of Alaska Pacific University. 

    Davidson is an enrolled tribal member of the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council. She was the first Alaska Native woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska when her strength as a leader was needed to steady our state after the abrupt resignation of her predecessor. Davidson was appointed by Governor Bill Walker in December 2014 to serve as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services. While there, her visionary leadership and ability to manage difficult dialogues, diverse leaders and teams, and critical issues made it possible to implement expanded Medicaid coverage to over 70,000 Alaskans, implement Medicaid Reform and negotiate the first Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact with 162 Alaska Tribes, the first of its kind in the nation. 

    Davidson previously worked for over 15 years as a national policy maker on matters affecting Self-Determination, Self-Governance, and Indian health and well-being. As Senior Director of Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, she represented Alaska Native communities and health needs at federal, state, and community levels. Davidson was also the spokesperson, chief political and legal strategist for ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Therapy Program, the country’s first mid-level dental program.

    Davidson served for 11 years as the Technical Co-Lead Negotiator of the Alaska Tribal Health Compact, a unified federal compact on behalf of 229 Tribes in Alaska. Davidson previously served as Chair of the national Tribal Technical Advisory Group to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under both Democratic and Republican administrations from its inception in 2004 until 2014. Davidson also served on the U.S. Department of Justice Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. A key component of her leadership was to help define multiple innovations to ensure Native peoples and our communities receive the best utilization of our government-to-government relationship and the federal trust responsibility. She also broadened this to work effectively with private philanthropy and other champions who could support this critical work.

    Davidson currently serves as Trustee of the First Alaskans Institute, Commissioner of the Lancet Commission on Arctic Health, member of the Executive Advisory Committee of the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience, and member of the Foraker Group Governance Board. Davidson also serves on the Founder’s Council of the United States of Care, a bipartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.

    Davidson earned a Bachelor of Education with a specialty in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Bilingual Education from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She has deployed her education and commitment to her Native peoples and Alaska to advance a collective and holistic approach to Self-Governance and the well being for all Alaskans.
  • Dr. Ramona Denby-Brinson
    Carl A. Scott Lecturer
    CSWE is pleased to announce Ramona Denby-Brinson, PhD, MSW, BSW, as the 2024 Carl A. Scott Lecturer at CSWE’s 70th Annual Program Meeting (APM). Dr. Denby-Brinson is dean and Kuralt Distinguished Professor of Public Welfare Policy and Administration in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

    Dr. Denby-Brinson's lecture, “Thank God the Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree: It's Time to Safeguard African American Families' Legacy,” illustrates how Carl A. Scott paved the way for generations of researchers and educators who in turn transformed social work practice. The backdrop to the lecture is a discussion of the U.S. child welfare system and the experiences of minoritized children and families. Using a multipronged approach of storytelling, music, art, data visualizations, and guided imagery, the audience will be challenged with the following proposition: Social movements of late might be well-served by an examination of our past practices. 

    Dr. Denby-Brinson has more than 30 years of experience in social work education and 20 years in administration. She completed her PhD at The Ohio State University. Prior to her academic career, she served children and families in various social service settings. Her scholarly interests include policy, programming, and treatment issues relevant to children and families, child welfare, children’s mental health, and culturally specific service delivery. Dr. Denby-Brinson is a nationally recognized expert in culturally adapted child welfare services. She has published extensively about kinship care, as well as the mental health and well-being of African American children who are foster-care-system involved.

    She has been funded significantly from federal, state, and private sources to conduct research related to child and family well-being. Her work is articulated in peer-reviewed journal articles, books, chapters, technical reports, issue briefs, media presentations and professional papers and presentations. She has been active in several national social work professional associations, including the National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, and the Society for Social Work and Research. Dr. Denby-Brinson has received numerous accolades for her scholarship and impact on the field, including the 2014 Harry Reid Silver State Research Award for her highly respected research that is responsive to the needs of local and national communities.