SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines’ board of directors has elected Diana Birkett Rakow vice president of external relations, leading the airline’s government affairs, corporate communications and community relations teams in Alaska, Hawaii, San Francisco and Seattle. Birkett Rakow succeeds Joe Sprague, a 17-year veteran of the airline, who left Sept. 1.
Birkett Rakow recently served as vice president of public affairs, communications and brand management at Kaiser Permanente of Washington through its acquisition of Group Health Cooperative. With Group Health since 2006, Birkett Rakow led a 75-person team with a $26 million budget responsible for public affairs and marketing. She served on the company’s executive leadership team and as a core member of the acquisition team. As president of Group Health Foundation, she also led the company’s community philanthropy strategy, championing initiatives such as the “Catch Every Kid” program to promote childhood vaccines.
Prior to that, she spent three years on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C. as a health policy advisor.
“Diana’s exemplary business and civic leadership record makes her a perfect fit for her new role overseeing Alaska Airlines community stewardship and government affairs efforts,” said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. “We look forward to welcoming her onboard as we continue our commitment to our people and communities, and as we continue to grow our airline.”
Birkett Rakow holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and master’s degree in public administration and public health from the University of Washington. She serves on the boards of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Pacific Science Center, and last year was recognized as a 40 under 40 Honoree by the Puget Sound Business Journal.