A local Native leader from Tanana and a former Tanana Chiefs Conference chairman, Victor Joseph, has been named to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response team.
“To me it’s just a great honor to serve, and I’m going to do the best job I can to make sure we have positive deliverables,” Joseph said. “It’s going to take a lot of work.”
Biden announced members of the Biden-Harris Administration COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force last week, which will provide recommendations for addressing disparities in COVID-19 testing, cases, hospitalizations and mortality, according to a news release.
“As the president indicated, it’s essential to ensure a balance, not only today but also in the future,” Joseph said.
Before joining the committee, Joseph played several leadership roles in the Native community in Interior Alaska. A tribal member of Tanana, he was a Tanana Chiefs Conference chief for six years until October 2020 and worked for the organization for 28 years total, occupying various positions, including health director.
Besides TCC, Joseph also served as Alaska representative in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee and on the Indian Health Services Budget Formulation Committee.
“Thirty years working with tribal organizations has really prepared me for this role, whether it’s been on local or on the state level,” he said.
The specific objectives and actions for the task force are not outlined yet, but members are preparing for an orientation where they will learn about what they can and cannot do, Joseph said.
Joseph will work alongside 11 other members of the task force who represent “a diversity of backgrounds and expertise, a range of racial and ethnic groups, and a number of important populations, including: children and youth; educators and students; health care providers, immigrants; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQ+ individuals; public health experts; rural communities; state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments; and unions,” according to the news release.
Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.