August 8

By Emily Goodykoontz

Anchorage Health Department director Joe Gerace has resigned, citing severe health issues.

Mayor Dave Bronson’s office announced Gerace’s departure Monday afternoon in a written statement.

“Last week, I suffered a stroke while working and spent three days in the hospital as a result,” Gerace said in the statement. “Today, after suffering another event, and being transported by ambulance to the hospital, I recognize the need to focus on my health first and foremost.”

Bronson appointed Gerace in September. In his role as director, Gerace oversaw a staff of about 130 at the health department and a roughly $14.7 million budget. The department has been responsible for overseeing the city’s COVID-19 efforts and much of the city’s homelessness response.

Ahead of the Anchorage Assembly’s November vote confirming Gerace as director, multiple accusations against Gerace surfaced, largely from former colleagues and employees he had supervised at previous workplaces. The accusations related to his behavior in the workplace and included allegations of sexism toward female employees and safety concerns. The Bronson administration called the accusations false and an attempt at character assassination.

After securing his position, Gerace worked to stand down the city’s mass care homeless shelter at the Sullivan Arena, which the city closed at the end of June, along with most of its other pandemic-era homelessness responses.

Deputy Director Kim Rash will serve as acting head of the department, according to the mayor’s office.