About Heidi Drygas
Heidi Drygas is a lifelong Alaskan with deep ties to communities across our state and a track record of bringing people together to find solutions. She is stepping up to serve at this pivotal moment in our state’s history because she is committed to building a bright future for her 4-year old daughter, Olive Jane, and for every Alaskan.
Heidi was born in Alaska’s golden heart city of Fairbanks in 1978. She is the daughter of the late Mark Drygas, a retired battalion chief for the Fairbanks Fire Department and a celebrated union leader, and Kathy Drygas, a devoted wife and mother to her three children and a retired cook for the Fairbanks Pioneer Home. As a child, Heidi spent countless hours with her older brother, Erik, and younger sister, Holly, playing youth sports, making up games in the woods surrounding their home, swimming in the cold waters of the Chena River, and skating on ice rinks around the community. Her tight-knit family spent summer vacations tent camping in public campgrounds along the Richardson Highway and fishing in the beautiful waters of Prince William Sound near Valdez.
Heidi is a proud Nanook, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. She was chosen class commencement speaker at graduation. Heidi moved to Salem, Oregon for three years to attend Willamette University College of Law, receiving a juris doctorate in 2003. Upon graduation, she returned to Alaska to work as an attorney in Anchorage, focusing on natural resource, commercial, and insurance law. Heidi then proudly spent ten years as general counsel to the Alaska District Council of Laborers, representing more than 5,000 Laborers across Alaska. Heidi’s father heavily influenced her life and chosen career path, encouraging her to pursue a career in law and to use her knowledge, passion, and energy to advance the rights of Alaskan workers. Mark passed away suddenly in June 2021.
In 2014, Governor Bill Walker appointed Heidi to serve as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. She successfully led a department of more than 800 hard-working public employees with a $150 million budget. She championed middle-class values like a living wage, occupational safety and health protections, and robust workforce training programs. Alongside her dedicated team, she expanded training opportunities through registered apprenticeships, focusing on Alaska’s high-growth industries, such as healthcare, aviation, maritime, and construction. Under her leadership, the department received more than $20 million in competitive federal grants to boost workforce development. She championed policies to eliminate subminimum wages for workers with disabilities, help youth with disabilities find jobs and achieve financial independence, and expand reemployment services to unemployed workers. Under her leadership, the department advanced multi-agency initiatives to combat human trafficking, increase career and technical education opportunities, and to build robust prisoner reentry programs. These accomplishments were all achieved at the same time Governor Walker’s administration was forced to cut the department’s budget by 38 percent.
Heidi moved to Juneau in 2015, where she met her now-husband, Kevin Sund. In 2017, Kevin and Heidi welcomed their daughter, Olive Jane. This fierce, feisty, joyful Alaskan kid is the apple of their eye, and Heidi wants to ensure that Alaska is a place where all children, including Olive, can have a vibrant future and raise families of their own. Heidi is an avid fisherwoman, enjoys foraging for mushrooms and wild edibles in Southeast Alaska, and is an accomplished home cook. They spend many summer days at the family’s cabin on Prince of Wales Island enjoying the beauty and bounty of Alaska’s pristine coastline.